For over two decades, Earls has been a staple at the corner of Main Street and York Avenue. Within a week, it will be closed — and setting up shop down the road.
The new Earls will open in the Artis Building, at 300 Main Street, on March 14. First, though, downtown Earls lovers will face a three-week drought: the 191 Main Street location will close on Feb. 22.
"We just felt that… when we’re coming out of (the pandemic) — or, hopefully coming out of it — it’s the right time for us to open," said Jacqueline Edwards, director of regional brand and marketing at Earls.
The Vancouver-based chain announced its move down Main last June. The new 6,000-square-foot space was originally set to open last summer, but the timeline was pushed back for pandemic-related reasons, Edwards said.
Manitoba removed restaurants’ capacity limits on Tuesday and has plans to scrap vaccine passports and mask requirements by mid-March.
Edwards named accessibility as the reason for uprooting. At the new locale, Earls guests will be plugged in to the city’s underground tunnel network.
"We love our current location, but really, we’re going to be connected to the path at 300 Main, so we’re going to be in the heart of the city centre," Edwards said.
Visitors can commute to the Canada Life Centre and other notable downtown sites without having to walk outside, Edwards said.
"You can come join us for pre-game drinks or a dinner, then walk to a (hockey) game," she said. "We just think it’s a great opportunity."
Patrons can park underground at 300 Main. There will be a fee to park in the lot, but Earls will pay a portion of parking on evenings and weekends, should the customer bring their receipt, Edwards said.
Most of the restaurant’s current downtown staff will make the 500-metre move to the new location, which seats 182 guests.
Earls was mum on what will become of the York Avenue site.
"We do have a plan, but unfortunately, we have not been able to come to an agreement with the City of Winnipeg. We are hopeful to have a resolution in the coming weeks," the company said in a written statement late Tuesday.
At one point, the downtown eatery was one of Earls’ top three locations in Canada.
"You’re going to walk in (to 300 Main), and it’s going to feel like an Earls, it’s going to have everything you’d expect an Earls to have, but there are going to be distinct differences," Edwards said.
For example, other Winnipeg Earls locations don’t have the sushi tacos and seafood platters that are coming downtown, Edwards said.
Pieces by Winnipeg-based artists will line the restaurant’s walls. Synonym Art Consultation, a local curatorial collective, paired with Earls on the collection. Bramwell Enan created a mural; works from Marla Guerreiro, Glodi Bahati and more will be on display.
"We’re looking to unchain the chain," Edwards said, adding customization is important.
Earls has 69 locations across North America, including locations in St. Vital and Polo Park.
The company’s latest migration lands it inside of what’s touted to be Winnipeg’s tallest building, a 42-storey mixed-use apartment complex.
"I think it’s extremely exciting for our residents to be able to just walk downstairs and have a world-class restaurant like Earls… available to them," said Jeffrey Lukin, director of marketing for Artis REIT, the company completing the building.
Goodlife Fitness, OEB Breakfast Co. and a beauty salon will also set up shop in the building. Commercial space is still available in the high-rise, Lukin said.
"Earls downtown has been a staple of the neighbourhood for so long," said Kate Fenske, CEO of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. "I think this really shows their commitment to downtown Winnipeg. (It’s) also something new, something fresh, something people can get excited about."
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.