Is the timing of the Sept. 13th opening of the new restaurant at the Inn at the Forks tied in any way to cutting the ribbon at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights?
You bet your sweet oysters and baked pork bellies it is.
Ben Sparrow, general manager of the hotel overlooking the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, said his staff at Smith is looking forward to welcoming their first customers exactly seven days before the CMHR follows suit.
"We want to put our best foot forward for the opening of the museum. That's why we timed our opening the way we did," he said.
"People shop in clusters. The more hotels you have in one area, the more people associate that area with staying (in hotels). New hotels are popping up downtown and the downtown is a stronger and more popular place for people to come and stay. The museum (will be) an anchor of that."
Smith has taken over the space that was previously occupied by the Current Restaurant & Lounge, which shut down in June. Sparrow is adamant the seven figures his company spent on the space is much more than a renovation.
"Every square inch has been completely redone. It's a brand-new restaurant in every single aspect. It's a massive undertaking," he said.
Smith is a partnership between Inn at the Forks and chef Alex Svenne, formerly of Bistro 7 º.
Sparrow said the new moniker is a play on the word craftsmith.
"We could have called it that. It's about food that is crafted and crafted cocktails. It's a celebration of fine crafted foods that are available in Canada and locally," he said.
"Alex is a big proponent of the local-food movement and local suppliers. It's a simple style with big flavours from the best local suppliers. It's food that makes you feel good."
He's not kidding about local. The kitchen staff won't have to look too far for some of its ingredients because vegetables are being grown in a new garden adjacent to the hotel.
Sparrow said downtown Winnipeg has become much more "interesting" during the past decade, with the impact of the MTS Centre, the convention centre and now the museum, and that's caused more people to visit the central business district than ever before.
"That's what we can bank on. The number of people who will actually visit the museum is an unknown," he said.