CHOCOHOLICS: Best bet for a great date this weekend? Watch the romantic movie Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp at home, while eating a light dinner to brace your stomach. Then hit the Chocoholics Buffet at the Gates on Roblin where you can dive headfirst into the 3,000 pieces of sheer delight. The buffet is organized by LunchFor1 blogger Anna Echols. Tickets are $53.99, with proceeds to United Way. The decadent buffet lasts from 6:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sinful details at www.chocoholicsbuffet.com, the only place you can buy at ticket. You may be able to save on cab fare by flying home on the sugar buzz!
DEFYING THE WEATHER! John Kolevris of Saffron's, who's already lost a month of precious patio business, has decided to go ahead and celebrate spring on his well-known deck at Corydon Avenue and Hugo Street, snow or shine. He's throwing a big outdoor bash, with prizes for all the hardy souls who show up from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 26. "We were spoiled last year to be out on the deck in March. That wasn't normal -- but this isn't normal, either!" he says.
CHI-CHI ITALIAN: Meanwhile, saws are shrieking in Corydon patio land all the way from Hugo Street to Stafford Street. The biggest project is the replacement of the former Red Cactus watering hole at 691 Corydon and adjoining Maple Bistro. The incarnation? An elegant new Italian restaurant and bar from new owner Sam Colosimo (Brooklynn's Bistro, Boa nightclub and other downtown spots). His artisan/builder Derrick Pakosh has been transforming the interior over the last few months into a sleek, charcoal brick and taupe-textured interior with woven metal and steel touches. "I'm a fussy, nutcase builder -- a perfectionist about every stone or piece of steel," says Pakosh. Adds Colosimo: "This is something new for Corydon. We're taking things up a level." At the moment, it's awaiting its name. "We have several different names at the lawyer's office and hope to have the name by Tuesday, and to be open in four or five weeks," said Colosimo.
HARVEY'S: The upcoming Harvey's on Stafford and Corydon finally got the go-ahead for a drive-thru and is now tendering so they can build an outlet that looks like part of the village. The atrium will be gone and replaced by a patio facing St. Ignatius Church. "We want the eco-friendly patio, Corydon feel," says manager Prince Mehta. "We have a lot of healthy foods on our menu, including vegetarian burgers." Partners in the project also include owner Mohinder Sidhu and manager Robin Lamba from the 600 Portage Ave., Harvey's location. Lamba hopes to open in July or August.
TEA STORY EXPANDS: Chemist Daniel Song and his wife, Iris He, an Asper Business grad, own the popular Tea Story Cafe on Osborne Street with the funky 1950s egg chairs in the window. This week, they are busy moving 120 kinds of tea into a second space at 653 Corydon Ave., sharing with Brenda Weiss of Boutique Unique. They will offer chocolates and French macaroons, smoothies and special teas -- iced, hot and latte style. Weiss is moving back into the elevated space so people can nosh and shop at Tea Story and then shop for jewelry accessories, clothing and beading. They are hoping for a May opening.
BESTIE PARTIES: Newly open on the strip at 701 Corydon Ave. is Prep, a new concept in hairdressing where women are invited to come in with six or eight of their besties to prep hair for a night out clubbing. There's even snacks and music. It's strictly wash and blow, not cuts and colours (although they do offer a full-service salon as well each day). "It's a kind of pre-game situation," says manager Allison Marinelli, 24. "At the end, we put them in a taxi. Sometimes, since things are so close in Winnipeg, I will just drive them!" Her sister, Chelsea, 27, is the owner and main stylist of Prep. They've also developed the downstairs for other beauty treatments and for more stylists.
A STAR IS BORN: Actress Sarah Jane Martin surprised herself by winning Wednesday's round of the Comedy Do or Die contest against seven comedians. How long has she been a stand-up? "Since last Thursday," she laughs, yet she handily beat veterans and newbies. The University of Manitoba theatre student just finished playing a lead role in the Black Hole Theatre's production of The Pluto Shot, has training as a doula and works as a cosmetician at Shopper's Drug Mart.
This contest runs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. at Pulse Nightclub, 423 McMillan Ave., Want to enter? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 204-474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to: Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.