The revitalized West-Broadway-Sherbrook Street area is getting another hip, new restaurant, and for some Winnipeggers it will be like the return of a beloved, old friend.
Talia Syrie, owner of the former Tallest Poppy restaurant on Main Street is opening a bigger, better version of the Tallest Poppy in the Sherbrook Inn, at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Westminster Avenue.
Syrie and her business partner, Steve Akerman, are in the midst of renovating the vacant main-floor space, with the goal of opening their new licensed eatery by the early fall.
Like its predecessor, which closed more than a year ago, the new venture will also be called the Tallest Poppy.
"I just didn't want it to be confusing for people," Syrie said, explaining why they decided to keep the same name. "But it's going to be a little bit different. All of the old Poppy favourites will be available, but the menu is going to be expanded a little bit because we're going to be open for dinner."
'I think it's just a real exciting neighbourhood to be a part of'
The original Poppy restaurant, which operated for about 61/2 years in the Red Road Lodge (formerly the New Occidental Hotel), was open just for breakfast and lunch. It was Syrie's first restaurant, and she said she's looking forward to expanding her offering to include dinner entrees.
"With the Poppy on Main, I experimented with a lot of things. But now it's time to try some other new things and build on that foundation... "
She said she closed the original Poppy because after 61/2 years of running a restaurant on her own, she was getting burned out. So when she was offered a one-year contract to oversee the startup of the Come 'N Eat Café in the new Neechi Commons food co-operative on Main Street, she decided it would be a nice change of pace.
But by the time her contract expired, she was pining to have her own restaurant again. "I found I really missed it."
She said the West Broadway-Sherbrook area was the only neighbourhood she considered when choosing a site for their new eatery.
"There are so many new businesses there and so many restaurants now," she said, rattling off names like Stella's Bakery, Boon Burgers, Bistro Dansk, and the Nook.
"I feel it's like Corydon was five years ago, or even Osborne Village, where you can just go there and once you're there, decide where you want to eat. It's become a real destination for food... which is the best."
Syrie said there's also a large and growing population in the area to draw upon.
"I think it's just a real exciting neighbourhood to be a part of."
In the past decade or so, the once-sketchy West Broadway-Sherbrook area has quietly morphed into one of the city's hip, new neighbourhoods.
In an interview earlier this year, the executive director of the West Broadway Business Improvement Zone said in the last six years alone, 20 new businesses have opened in the neighbourhood, boosting the area's business count to about 110.
Leah McCormick said the demand for storefront space on the area's three main commercial arteries -- Sherbrook, Maryland Street and Broadway -- has become so strong there is now a waiting list of retailers who are eager to set up shop there. That's a far cry from a decade or two ago, when "for rent" signs were commonplace.
Syrie said it was a friend who suggested she check out the vacant space in the Sherbrook Inn.
"I came and spoke to him (the hotel's owner) and we hit it off. He agreed to let me give it a go," she said. "And the minute I walked in there... I knew that was our new home -- that we were supposed to be there."
She said the space is about three times bigger than her first location -- room for 92 seats versus 32.
"And it has a huge kitchen."
She said all that extra space offers them and their interior designer, Sharon Johnson, a lot more flexibility in terms of how they design and decorate the new restaurant.
"The (first) Poppy was always more of a cobbled-together kind of thing," she said. "So it's kind of exciting... "
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