Carbone, a new pizza restaurant/lounge that's coming to downtown Winnipeg, will add a new twist to the phrase "beer on tap": It will have the province's first self-pour beer system.
Carbone (pronounced car-bone-eh) managing partner Benjamin Nasberg said beer lines running under the concrete floor will carry draft beer from kegs to taps installed at a number of tables in the lounge area of the restaurant, which is scheduled to open in early to mid-March at 260 St. Mary Ave.
Instead of placing their order and waiting for staff to deliver a pitcher of beer, customers can turn on one of the two taps at their table and refill their glasses, Nasberg said. The automated system is programmed to pour a specific amount of a beer at a time and keeps track of how much is dispensed.
"It took me four months to get the MLLC (Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp.) to approve it," Nasberg said, adding he got the idea after seeing a similar setup on a trip last year to Chicago.
"We're super-excited about this. It will be an extra perk for the downtown crowd."
Nasberg and his business partners, Joseph Paletta and Sean Dillinger, originally hoped to open their second Carbone outlet last fall, but some unexpected delays forced them to postpone it for five or six months.
Paletta said the delays were a blessing in disguise because it gave them the extra time to get MLLC approval and install the beer lines under the floor before the rest of the renovations started.
Construction crews are renovating the 2,500-square-foot space, which is on the main floor of the Stevenson Group's three-storey office/retail building at the corner of St. Mary and Garry Street.
The partners say their Taylor Avenue restaurant, which has been in business about 2 1/2 years, is still the only coal-fired pizza restaurant in Canada.
They bake their pizzas and other Italian dishes in 454 C ovens that burn anthracite coal, one of the world's oldest and cleanest-burning fossil fuels. They say it really brings out the flavours of the ingredients.
Their downtown restaurant will be equipped will the same type of ovens. The partners have no plans to install a self-pouring draft-beer system in their Taylor Avenue eatery because it doesn't have a lounge and is a more family-oriented establishment.
Nasberg and Paletta said they're eager to open the new downtown location, which is situated across the street from the new police headquarters and within three blocks of the MTS Centre. The restaurant, lounge and outdoor patio will each have seating capacity for about 50 people.
"The downtown is definitely growing and we want to be a part of that growth," Nasberg said.
"And we think there will be even bigger things (happening in the downtown) over the next five years," Paletta added.
The Carbone restaurant is one of two retail spaces available on the main floor of the Stevenson building, but Doug McKay, director of commercial development for Stevenson's development arm, Longboat Development Corp., said they're not actively marketing the other 1,500-sq.-ft. spot.
He said they're waiting until the new police station opens and some further developments unfold in the nearby Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED). That should heighten interest in the extra space, he said.
Longboat is one of the leading players in the downtown revitalization effort.
Longboat and development partner Artis Real Estate Investment Trust have one major development, 311 Portage Avenue at CentrePoint, underway and another, SoPo Square, in the works.
The $130-million CentrePoint development includes construction of a five-storey office/retail building, a 15-storey Alt hotel, a 400-stall parkade and a 21-storey Glass House condominium tower on the north side of Portage Avenue.
Longboat president Scott Stephanson said the CentrePoint project is more or less on schedule. The recent bout of bone-chilling weather forced construction crews to temporarily halt pouring concrete for the remaining floors in the hotel -- six have been erected so far -- but Stephanson said that work will resume in the next week or two.
Work is continuing on the office/retail building and the parkade, and Stephanson said they hope to begin building the condo tower this spring or summer. The expectation is still to complete the office/retail building this fall, the hotel and parkade late this year and the condo tower in late 2015.
Work on the proposed SoPo Square development on Graham Avenue (the original concept calls for construction of two mid-rise office/retail complexes, an outdoor plaza, some parking space and a highrise hotel) won't start until the partners find some tenants for the office/retail towers.
"What is going to drive that downtown development is the leasing... and we've been working very hard to get some tenants involved," Stephanson said. "And at this point, there is enough interest in the project... that the project partners are going to continue working on it."
Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, industrial or multi-family residential sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below or at 204-697-7254.