The Esplanade Riel is the only bridge with a restaurant in North America, and it was occupied previously by a Winnipeg’s local chain restaurant Salisbury House. The Sal’s, which has been located in this spaceship-looking structure on the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge for 7 years, shut its doors on December 31, 2012. No wonder when I visited this bridge, the restaurant was already closed on Dec 29!!! :-( Sals owner Earl Barish indicated that it was very challenging to operate a restaurant in the middle of the bridge, because it has no parking and the utility costs are very special to that location. As well, supplies would have to be brought in on foot. It lacks business in many months, most likely during chilling winter. Furthermore, who wants to walk across a wind-swept bridge for a few hundred feet at least for just a burger anyway?!?! ò.ó
Aside from the business maintenance issue, it also cost the city $1 million to hook up heated sewer and water lines to the restaurant. Had there been no restaurant on the bridge, there would have been no reason to put this million-dollar toilet there. At $2,000 a month in rent, Sals has so far paid $168,000 rent over the period of its 7 year tenancy. Even if Sals had stayed open, it would have taken at least 42 years to cover the toilet construction cost, or even longer if inflation, interests on debt, and other maintenance costs are considered. Now, with the closure of the restaurant, who is gonna recoup the difference? Taxpayers!
My speculation for a restaurant to be successful in this unique venue is through combo package; eg, lunch or dinner buffets combined with admissions to the Human Rights Museum. Or, build a streetcar / trolley rail / skytrain connecting the Forks to St. Boniface, with a stop on the bridge.