Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Revolving restaurant will turn no more

Doors to close Jan. 1; lack of parking cited

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A city landmark and tourist attraction is shutting its doors at the end of the year.The revolving bar and restaurant atop Fort Garry Place will close after its lease runs out Dec. 31, and the building's landlord says it will likely be several months before the place is spruced up and a new tenant moves in.

The Gill Family Trust has operated the Royal Crown Revolving Restaurant as well as banquet and conference facilities on the building's fifth, sixth and 28th floors for 14 years, said a family member, who requested anonymity.

He cited declining sales and a lack of customer parking among the reasons for the closing.

He said the landlord, Edison Rental Agency, had been selling an increasing number of monthly parking spots, making it difficult for customers to find convenient parking.

"They (customers) won't park two blocks away and walk to the restaurant in -35 C. They will eat somewhere else," the family member said, adding that company revenues are down by "almost $280,000" this year.

The business is paying about $25,000 a month in rent, plus business and property taxes and utilities, for the 30th-floor restaurant, 31st-storey lounge and banquet facilities, he said.

Miriam Bergen, who heads Edison Rental, said she received notice from the Gill family earlier this year. She said she hopes to have the restaurant and banquet spaces leased soon, but they won't be occupied for at least a few months.

"It needs a good cleaning and there's some painting and patching and (other) maintenance that needs to be done," Bergen said Tuesday.

The revolving restaurant and bar completes one revolution every 70 minutes, offering diners a panoramic view of the city. It opened in 1988.

The manager of the restaurant, Crystal Alves, a four-year employee, said Tuesday that workers were in the dark about the facility's future.

"So far, we have no idea who is taking it over, if we're going to keep going, if they're going to close it down and renovate," Alves said.

Fort Garry Place was developed by Martin Bergen, Miriam's father. The apartment, retail and restaurant and catering complex is owned by a numbered company, controlled by Martin Bergen.

Miriam Bergen said Edison Rental, which manages more than 20 apartment buildings in the city, has discussed the Fort Garry Place restaurant and banquet space vacancies with several potential tenants.

She said various parties have expressed an interest in some or all of the available facilities.

"It looks good for something (a deal) within the next month, but you never know what happens," Bergen said.

The Gill family member speculated that the Fort Garry Hotel may lease some of the space. Representatives of the hotel toured the facilities 18 months ago, he said.

Asked if the hotel was a potential tenant, Miriam Bergen laughed. "I'm not going to say anything. I'll just say there are a number of people (looking at the property)," she said.

Fort Garry Hotel co-owner Richard Bel declined to comment on Tuesday.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2008 B12

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