Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Another grocery store shuts in North End

Residents decry continuing trend of closures

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The North End has lost one of the best butchers around, residents say.

Food Fare, located at Arlington Street and Polson Avenue, was permanently closed Tuesday after filing for bankruptcy.

"It was a shock," said Maples resident Joe McNeilly, who shopped with his wife, Donna, Wednesday for chicken. "We come once a week, sometimes twice. They had good-quality meat."

Owner Nino Cantafio could not be reached for comment. He owned a Food Fare franchise for 15 years, said Moe Zeid, owner of the four other Food Fare stores in Winnipeg.

The closure caught Zeid by surprise.

Zeid said he talked to Cantafio on Tuesday morning. Cantafio told him he had fallen behind three or four months of rent payments on the building. He closed the store after receiving a letter demanding payment last week from the landlord's lawyer.

"The guy ran out of money," said Zeid.

"The people were really friendly," said resident Bill Kovltchouk. "Every basic need was here, we never needed a big store. Any daily shopping? Food Fare."

None of the other four Food Fare stores in the city is threatened by closure, Zeid said.

Zeid said he will try to buy the Food Fare building on Arlington. "If I can buy (it), it will reopen," he said. The owner is currently away in the United States.

The closure is another hit for the North End.

Westfair Foods recently announced the closure of the Extra Foods grocery on Main Street at Inkster Avenue. It shuts its doors at the end of this month.

As well, the Zellers in the Northgate Shopping Centre is closing. An Extra Foods on Notre Dame Avenue also closed recently.

"There are no more close stores anymore," said Kovltchouk, who sees a lot of his neighbours on Bannerman Avenue walk to the store. "I see elderly people coming here and now they will have to take a bus or something."

At 5,000 square feet, it's a medium-sized grocery, Zeid said.

Zeid has owned grocery stores since 1976 when he started with Payfair. He changed the name in 1982 and expanded the number of stores.

Connie Chubaty said she will find the other Food Fares because she's found the meat quality at the larger chain stores not as fresh.

"I'm hoping they have the same meat quality," said Chubaty. "This meat counter was phenomenal; it was really good."

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca steph.crosier@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2013 A8

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