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New airport terminal goes big on Manitoba

Decidedly hometown flavour for retailers and restaurants
By: Murray McNeill
Source: SSP Canada and The Paradise Shops

For air travellers arriving home, they'll be reminders of why it's good to be back. And for those flying out, they'll be reminders of what they'll be missing while they're gone.

On Tuesday, Winnipeg Airports Authority unveiled 13 of the 21 restaurants and retailers that will be setting up shop next year in its spanking new international airport terminal. And the lineup has a decidedly Manitoba flavour, with five iconic Winnipeg eateries and retailers.

Mike Oman, catering manager for Salisbury House, hands out cheese nips at a ceremony to announce stores and restaurants that will occupy the new terminal at the airport. (TREVOR.HAGAN@FREEPRESS.MB.CA)

For those pining for a classic taste of Winnipeg, they can grab a Sals nip at the Salisbury House of Canada outlet, a savoury sandwich from Stella's Cafe & Bakery, or a cheese and pepperoni pizza from Gondola Pizza.

And for those looking for a distinctly Manitoba gift, how about Miriam Toews' latest novel from the McNally Robinson Booksellers store, or a doll from the Toad Hall Toys shop.

There will also be plenty of recognizable names for non-local travellers who prefer to stick with something more familiar, such as gourmet coffee from Starbucks or Tim Hortons, golf gear from PGA Tour Shops, or a meal from T.G.I. Fridays.

They're also be at least eight other restaurant and retail operations to choose from, although they haven't been selected yet by the two international firms that hold the master concession contracts for the new Richardson International Airport terminal -- SSP Canada, which is overseeing the food and beverage concessions, and The Paradies Shops, overseeing the retail operations.

They'll include four news-and-gifts shops and a number of vending-machine and retail kiosk operators.

The five Winnipeg-based operators unveiled at Tuesday's news conference were all hand-picked by SSP Canada and The Paradies Shops to give travellers a good taste of what Winnipeg is all about.

Officials for four of the operators who were on hand Tuesday said they were thrilled to have been selected.

"This will be a pretty high-class building," Stella's owner Tore Sohlberg said in an interview.

McNally Robinson spokesman Chris Hall and Toad Hall manager Kari England said they're looking forward to the added exposure an airport outlet will give their family owned businesses.
"Lots of people have still not been inside a McNally Robinson store, so this will be an opportunity to introduce ourselves to a lot more people," Hall said. "It's both a store and an advertisement of sorts."

"Not everybody when they visit the city goes to the downtown area or necessarily seeks out the local businesses," England said. "So I'm thrilled. I think it's a unique opportunity for us."

Salisbury House CEO Earl Barish said an airport concession is a natural progression for the locally owned restaurant chain, which in recent years has opened concession stands or kiosks in a number of hospitals, golf courses and sports venues, including Canwest Global Park and Canad Inns stadium.

"It's part of our new thrust," Barish said, adding the kiosks and concession stands nicely complement the chain's full-service restaurants.

Because air travellers spend a lot more time in the post-security area than they used to, the bulk of the retail and restaurant outlets will be located in that part of the new terminal and therefore won't be available to the nontravelling public.

The exceptions will be Stella's, Tim Hortons, two of the news and gift shops, and some of the vending machines and retail kiosks.

Sohlberg said he was relieved to hear that Stella's restaurant will be located in the public area. That way anyone can pop in for a bite.

WAA CEO Barry Rempel also updated the media and invited guests on the status of the WAA's $572-million airport redevelopment, which got underway in 2005 and includes construction of the 549,000-square-foot terminal, new aircraft parking pads and taxiways, new public roadways, a 1,600-stall parkade, and upgrades to the central powerhouse.

He said the total project is about two-thirds complete, and by this time next year the terminal should also be in the final stages of construction.

They're the lucky 13

Here are 13 restaurant and retail outlets that will be setting up shop in Winnipeg's new international airport terminal, expected to open late next year:

Local operators:

Salisbury House of Canada, best known for its Sals nips (hamburgers), hot dogs, french fries and pastries.

Gondola Pizza, known for its pizzas, pasta dishes, ribs, chicken wings and salads.

Stella's Cafe & Bakery, which specializes in home-made breads, cinnamon buns, soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts.

McNally Robinson Booksellers, a full-service bookstore known for carrying a broad selection of titles from local authors.

Toad Hall Toys, an "old-world" toy shop whose products include exquisite dolls, miniature puppets, musical toys, science kits, and arts and crafts supplies.

National and international operators:

Starbucks Coffee, an international specialty coffee/restaurant chain.

Tim Hortons Inc., Canada's largest specialty coffee/restaurant chain.

T.G.I. Friday's, a U.S.-based, family-restaurant chain.

Rice Tales, a contemporary Asian, quick-serve, restaurant chain offering a variety of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Filipino dishes.

Upper Crust Bakery, a U.K.-based chain best known for its freshly baked French baguettes. Also carries an extensive selection of gourmet salads and fresh pastries.

PGA Tour Shops, a U.S.-based retailer offering both men's and women's golf and leisure apparel and accessories.

Rosetta Stone, one of the world's leading language companies that sells specialty CDs and other computerbased language-learning products.

CNBC News, which offers in-store broadcasts of CNBC business news programs and carries a broad range of traditional newsstand products, including books, magazines and convenience items.

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© Talbot Consultants International Inc.