The place will be rockin' and rollin' today when Salisbury House Canada opens its first free-standing, built-from-scratch restaurant in 25 years. The iconic Winnipeg restaurant chain's new $3-million-plus, 138-seat eatery at Pembina Highway and Stafford Street was to throw open its doors at 7 a.m. today.
And one of the features that sets it apart from the other 15 free-standing Sals restaurants in the city is a Manitoba music memorabilia display section just inside the front entrance.
On display will be a variety of musical items collected over the years by Sals president and CEO Earl Barish and his wife.
They include a 1948 Rock-Ola jukebox, which will be playing hits from the 1950s and '60s, former Guess Who/Bachman Turner Overdrive member Randy Bachman's first electric guitar, an upright piano that used to belong to former Guess Who member Burton Cummings and a guitar autographed by Bachman, Cummings and rock star and former Winnipegger Neil Young.
The new 4,500-square-foot restaurant replaces the 3,475-square-foot Sals that has sat on that corner since 1956.
Barish said the Stafford location is considered one of the top three in the chain "as far as history and nostalgia is concerned." The other two are the ones at Main Street and Matheson Avenue and at Ellice Avenue and Roseberry Street.
"We wanted something very unique for that restaurant because of its history," Barish said of the music memorabilia display. "And Manitoba music is something we're very proud of in this province. So we thought that would be a great thing to have."
He said the new restaurant has a bigger seating capacity than the old one, which had 103 seats. And it also has a fireplace -- something the old one didn't have.
"It's very unique and different. But it's also still a Salisbury House, with the same menu, the same prices, the same staff, the same service... it's all the same," he said.
And it also has the chain's signature red roof.
Barish heads up an investment group that took over the financially struggling chain in 2006 and gave it a new lease on life. The group also includes Cummings, his longtime agent, Lorne Saifer, lawyer Hersh Wolch and local technology entrepreneur Harris Liontas.
The chain added another new outlet last year, but that was an existing restaurant on Leila Avenue that was converted to a Sals. The company's new corporate headquarters is also located there. The opening of the new Stafford outlet marks the culmination of the group's six-year revitalization effort. With that now complete, company officials are turning their attention to adding a few more locations.
Barish said the three areas they have their eyes on are the IKEA retail development in southwest Winnipeg, the Chief Peguis Trail area in the northeast part of the city, and Deacon's Corner in Dugald, where Sals once had a thriving restaurant.
In addition to its stand-alone restaurants, Sals also has six seasonal locations in places like the Goldeyes and Bomber stadiums, several smaller outlets in the Health Sciences Centre and Richardson International Airport, and two food-catering operations -- Red Roof Catering and Riel Catering.