Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Earls on Main going, but new one coming

Updated eatery at same location opens next spring

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One of Winnipeg's most popular restaurants and bars has a date with a wrecking ball.

Earls on Main, one of the Vancouver-based chain's busiest locations and a favourite of visiting sports teams, will be demolished in the fall of 2014.

But unlike The Wagon Wheel, C. Kelekis Restaurant and Papa George's, all of which closed in the last year, this one will rise from the rubble.

Earls Restaurants Ltd., a privately held company, plans to build a new $6-million restaurant on the same site at the corner of Main Street and York Avenue and open it in 2015, said communications manager Cate Simpson.

"As we built new restaurants, they got our new look. Now we're tying to catch up our older restaurants and give them the new look. Some get a facelift and some, like Winnipeg and Edmonton, get the whole-meal deal," she said.

The new building will seat the same number of people -- 144 in the dining room and 110 in the lounge -- but the plan is to expand the outdoor patio from 75 seats to 100, she said.

Looks and trends have changed considerably since the Main Street eatery opened, and it's time to redo it, Simpson said.

"It's not very environmental. It's an energy- and a space-waster. We're a lot better at designing restaurants now," she said.

Earls has 60 restaurants in Canada and a half-dozen more in the United States.

The Main Street eatery opened in fall 1994 and is the top-grossing Earls of the four in Winnipeg. At one point, it was one of the company's top-three in Canada and remains among the busiest.

Earls on Main brings in about $6 million a year in sales. The company has annual revenue of $260 million.

Earls arrived in Winnipeg in 1986 on St. James Street across the road from Polo Park shopping centre, a location that is now a Tony Roma's. Back then, the concept was far different than the high-end eatery and bar it is today. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature was the giant collection of ceramic parrots located throughout the restaurant. The new Polo Park location opened in spring 2002. Earls also has a Pembina Highway location, which opened early in 1995, and another in St. Vital, which opened in summer 2006.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 27, 2013 B7

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