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Longtime restaurateur’s eatery, market mysteriously close

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TWO establishments owned by former local restaurant king George Tsouras — whose food empire once boasted nine spots in the city — have mysteriously shut down in recent weeks without explanation.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/11/2018 (1537 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

TWO establishments owned by former local restaurant king George Tsouras — whose food empire once boasted nine spots in the city — have mysteriously shut down in recent weeks without explanation.

The Beachcomber restaurant at The Forks, alongside his Mediterranean market and bistro in south Winnipeg (known as Agora Fine Food Market and Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar), have been shuttered.

The closures caught everyone at The Forks off guard, said Chelsea Thomson, manager of marketing and communications.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Agora Fine Food Market has closed.

“We were just as surprised as anyone to hear of their closure. We had a new lease out to them and were waiting for them to get back to us. We have no plans for the current space, as this information is still very new,” Thomson said.

Tsouras has been a tenant at The Forks since it opened in 1989. Prior to opening the Beachcomber restaurant, he operated one of his Branigan’s locations out of the same spot.

Meanwhile, a sign dated Oct. 20 that announces the closure, is posted on the front door of the market and bistro, located on the 1700 block of Kenaston Boulevard.

The sign does not give an explanation for the closing, but thanks customers, employees and suppliers for their support during the short-lived venture. Its website has also been shut down and the telephone line has been disconnected.

Tsouras, who served as a co-owner of the establishment with his youngest daughter Jackelyn, did not respond to a request for comment.

“From day one, we believed in everything that we did and we fell more in love with our dream each business day that passed. What is life without taking a risk or two? And that is exactly what we did,” the sign reads.

“Owning a small business in a thriving city is never an easy task and over the last month we have realized just how difficult it can be. We persevered in hopes that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel, and we have no regrets doing so.”

Tsouras opened his first restaurant in Winnipeg with two partners in 1974. By the 1980s, he was a significant player in the restaurant scene.

At one point, he owned six Branigan’s restaurants (a well-known local chain), a Remington’s Seafood Steakhouse, a Longhorn’s Texas Steakhouse and a Barba Yiannis Mediterranean Grill.

His group of companies also opened up Branigan’s locations in North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as the Remington’s in Brandon. In addition, Tsouras had contracts to operate restaurants in the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and in both city casinos.

At the height of his success, his companies employed more than 800 people and boasted annual sales of $28 million. However, in the early 2000s he ran into financial trouble. By 2003, all that was left was the Beachcomber restaurant at The Forks.

In 2016, Tsouras opened up the Mediterranean market and bistro with his daughter. The bistro featured seating for up to 75 and the spot specialized in Greek, Spanish and Italian food.

“It may not have been a long run, but it was one that we will remember for the rest of our lives. We will look back at our accomplishments and the fact that we were able to make our dream a reality with the fondest of memories,” the sign reads.

“We would also like to apologize for any inconvenience this news has brought to you. Thank you for making our family feel so loved and thank you for letting us be a part of so many celebrations with yours. Winnipeg, we love you with all our hearts.”

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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