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This article was published 2/2/2015 (2271 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A second restaurant operator on the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge is closing.
Chez Sophie sur le pont closed its doors unexpectedly Monday.
The owners, Sophie and Stephane Wild posted the notice on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
The Wilds could not be reached for comment. An English translation of their Facebook notice stated:
"After considerable reflection and consultation with our advisors, it is with great regret that we need to announce the closure of chez sophie on the bridge as of that day.
"We have dedicated (our) bodies and souls in this restaurant for several months trying to find solutions to our precarious situation, even up to put our health and our personal finance at risk."
The note went on to state that during its two years of operation it became evident that the seasonal income from the restaurant’s location on the bridge was not enough "to satisfy the extraordinary expenditure relating to a restaurant on that bridge."
The Wilds opened the restaurant in June 2013 after the first restaurant operator, Salisbury House, opted not to renew its lease after seven years in operation.
A subsequent search for tenants attracted only three bids and city officials recommended the Wilds, who operate a popular second location, Chez Sophie Bistro.
The Wilds were given free rent for the first year of a five-year lease, in exchange for extensive renovations totaling $150,000 to $200,000. The couple were paying $2,000 monthly after the first year.
Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface) said the Wilds did their best but the venture didn’t prove viable.
However, Allard said another type of business could be successful there and the city should see if anyone is interested.
Allard said there’s no reason why the location should be reserved for a restaurant.
"We should call for expressions of interest (EOI) and see what ideas are out there," Allard said. "It’s a beautiful site with good potential."
Allard said the city should look at the experiences of the Wilds and Salisbury House and determine what can be done moving forward.
"It’s important that we move quickly on this," Allard said. "Why should figure out what went wrong and then move forward."