Restaurants’ revolving doors Johnny G’s in the Exchange, Tuxedo Village/Monstrosity Burger put up for sale; Forth Café quietly shuts down

It’s a season of change for some well-known Winnipeg eateries.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/08/2022 (226 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s a season of change for some well-known Winnipeg eateries.

Both Johnny G’s on McDermot Avenue — a decades-old establishment — and Tuxedo Village Family Restaurant, which made headlines for flouting pandemic-era public health rules, are up for sale.

And Forth Café, also on McDermot Avenue, has permanently shut its doors.

Johnny Giannakis, owner of Johnny G’s, says the plan for his 177 McDermot Ave. bar — and Wee Johnny’s Irish Pub, the downstairs comedy club — is to continue as is under new ownership, he said.

“Everything is normal,” he said. “Everything is good, the same.”

Giannakis declined to reveal why the more than 35-year-old Exchange District establishment is for sale. The roughly 3,700-square-foot spot is listed at nearly $1.4 million.

“Nothing changes,” Giannakis said, adding neither Johnny G’s nor Wee Johnny’s will close while on the market.

He plans to keep running the Johnny G’s Main Street location, he said.

Roughly eight kilometres west, Tuxedo Village Family Restaurant is seeking new ownership.

The eatery currently shares a space — and owners — with Monstrosity Burger at 2090 Corydon Ave. Both made headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic for the owners’ opposition to public health measures, such as masking and requiring dine-in customers to be vaccinated.

In January, the company was facing fines of up to $1 million for repeated alleged breaches of public health orders.

Monstrosity Burger is moving to a new Winnipeg location east of their current site, according to Suzanne Mariani, real estate agent for the Corydon restaurant.

“Monstrosity is doing well, and they’re considering franchising,” she said, adding she’s not involved with the company’s politics, she’s just selling the location.

An employee at Monstrosity Burger declined an interview request.

“They’re sort of restructuring right now for preparation and franchising,” Mariani said.

She wouldn’t divulge where the burger joint is headed. The deal hasn’t closed, she said.

“Tuxedo Village has been there for a lot… of years.” – Suzanne Mariani

Meantime, the Corydon strip mall’s roughly 2,224-square-foot segment is listed at $349,900. Buyers can “resurrect” Tuxedo Village Family Restaurant, Mariani said.

They can own the eatery’s name, equipment and Greek recipes, and the menus are available as well, Mariani said. A listing on calls the sale “turn key.”

“Tuxedo Village has been there for a lot… of years,” Mariani said. “It’s like a little heritage in the Tuxedo area.”

Monstrosity Burger’s owners bought Tuxedo Village around 2018 and set up shop without losing Tuxedo Village’s signage or food offerings, Mariani said.

New purchasers don’t need to continue Tuxedo Village’s legacy. Mariani said potential clients have mentioned opening Chinese food or burger restaurants.

Back on McDermot Avenue, Forth Café — a once-popular Exchange District coffee shop — has permanently shut its doors.

The company announced its closure via social media posts Saturday. Owners were not available for comment by print deadline.

Controversy brewed last September when the 171 McDermot Ave. shop chose to temporarily close instead of denying unvaccinated customers entry.

“We do not believe this is an effective and inclusive public health policy and we wish to signal support for open and reasonable debate on the public health response in Manitoba,” the business wrote on social media on Sept. 10, adding they believed COVID-19 vaccination effectively reduced hospitalization and death.

Thousands of people expressed their outrage or support in the comments section. The café hasn’t been open since. Forth Bar, which was under separate ownership in the same building, has also closed.

Downtown restaurants are struggling, said Shaun Jeffrey, CEO of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

He pointed to inflation, the need to offer higher wages to attract workers and a lack of foot traffic as constant blows to restaurateurs.

“It’s tough,” Jeffrey said. “We just really don’t have the population to support the amount of businesses we have down here with no workers working in offices.”

He said government must do more to get workers back in downtown offices, to bring more consistency to downtown eateries.

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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