Six months after its closure made headlines, a North End grocery store will soon reopen.
Area businessman Todd Harris says he’s hoping to throw open the doors to Harris Meats & Groceries at Arlington Street and Polson Avenue in September after the former Food Fare closed suddenly in mid-March.
"I’ve been watching this place for a long time," said Harris, who took over the building July 1.
"This is an underserved area. If this goes, there’s nothing around here."
Harris has been shipping meat and groceries from his Charles Street warehouse for seven years. This will be his first stand-alone grocery store, which includes his brother and business partner, Tim.
Harris is refurbishing the building’s floor and purchasing new shelving before he opens. He’ll carry the standard grocery fare, but says a beefed-up butchers shop and the meat it cuts in-house will be the store’s highlight.
"It’s all going to be local and it’s going to be quality," Harris said, adding he plans to have fresh beef, chicken and pork every day, along with veal and lamb and halal meats if there’s demand from the neighbourhood.
"What the customers want, we’ll get."
In March, North Enders lamented the closure of the Food Fare, after former store owner Nino Cantafio closed the doors after reportedly falling behind in rent payments. It followed a number of other store closures in the community, including the Extra Foods grocery on Main Street and the Zellers in the Northgate Shopping Centre.
In May, local grocer Moe Zeid, who owns four Food Fare locations in Winnipeg, said he was hoping to take over the store.
Harris said he’s been encouraged by the community’s support since he’s started renovations.
"We get a dozen people a day to see if we’re open," he said.
"Everyone seems to want to support it, which is positive."
Harris, who grew up near Cantor’s Meat and Grocery on Logan Avenue and worked there for 20 years, plans to staff the store with 15 to 20 people. It will be a mix of new hires from the neighbourhood and a crop of staff from his existing warehouse.
Izzy Urbina, a North End resident who has been working at Harris’ warehouse for two years, will manage the store and run its butcher shop. Most people in the community walk to local destinations because of travel limitations, he said. With a dearth of grocery options in the North End, he knows the importance the store will have for residents.
"It’s going to play its part," he said.
"It’s a good opportunity."
Harris is planning to open 9 a.m to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, though that is subject to change.