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Butcher shop eatery a cut above

St. Boniface welcomes retail concept unique to city

A retail concept that’s new to Winnipeg — a combined restaurant and butcher shop — has opened in St. Boniface.

Bouchée Boucher is the brainchild of the local husband-and-wife team of Alexander Svenne and Danielle Carignan Svenne, the original owners/operators of the former Bistro 71/4 on Osborne Street.

Their new concept opened Thursday on the main floor of a recently renovated apartment block at the corner of Marion Street and Tache Avenue. The 70-seat restaurant looks out onto Marion Street, while the butcher shop faces Tache Avenue. Between the two shops is a shared kitchen.

Svenne said he’d been thinking about opening a butcher shop for a few years. It was always his intention to get back into the restaurant business after spending the last little while working as a chef for the Southwood Golf and Country Club.

The original plan was to open two separate entities at two different locations, “but then it kind of morphed into this combination,” Svenne said.

“When I first thought of it, I thought I was going to be unique in the world,” he added. “Then I did some research and found out there are other places doing it. But not a lot, and few, if any, in Canada.”

One of the advantages of having a restaurant and a butcher shop is they have more than one revenue stream. The two operations also go together well because it gives them more options in terms of what they do with the meat products they produce.

“If somebody buys pork chops (from the butcher shop,) we can sell the pork shoulder in a dish in the restaurant.”

Svenne said they have two other business partners in the new venture. Eve Conner oversees the business side of things. The other partner — Harborside Farms, a Pilot Mound-area farm owned by Clint and Pam Cavers — supplies most of the meat and finds other local farms to supply the rest. For now, their meat offering includes beef, pork, chicken and lamb, although they plan to add specialty meats such as bison, elk and rabbit.

“And it’s all pasture-raised pigs, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens,” Svenne added.

He noted the butcher shop has its own seating area and, like the restaurant, is licensed to serve liquor.

“So if you come in to buy some pork chops and want to have a roast-beef sandwich and a beer, we can give it to you.”

Alexander and Danielle Svenne along with other partners opened Bouchée Boucher and restaurant on the ground floor of recently renovated apartment block in St. Boniface.

The butcher shop also has a large dining table which seats up to 14 people. It can also be used when the shop is hosting things such as cooking classes, butchery classes and wine tastings.

On the restaurant side, they’re hoping many of their customers will chose to order dishes as a group and share them, much like people do when ordering Chinese food.

“That’s sort of the goal,” he said, although customers can still order separate meals if they like.

The partners also plan to change parts of the menu from week to week, depending on what’s available in the butcher shop and what’s popular with customers.

Svenne said they checked out a number of neighbourhoods, including Corydon Avenue and the Exchange District, before choosing the St. Boniface location. And he’s glad they did.

“I’m amazed at how much foot traffic there is (on Marion and Tache), which I didn’t expect. I knew there was lots of vehicle traffic, but there’s a lot of foot traffic too. I’ve also learned since being here that St. Boniface people like supporting St. Boniface businesses.”

He also likes the fact they’re close to the downtown, which gives people time to hop across the bridge for lunch.

The CEO of Enterprises Riel, the economic development agency for Winnipeg’s three francophone communities — St. Boniface, St. Vital and St. Norbert — said Bouchée Boucher is a great addition to the neighbourhood.

“I think it (a restaurant and butcher shop at the same location) is a brilliant concept,” Normand Gousseau said in an interview. “I think they hit the nail right on the head.”

Gousseau also noted they haven’t had a butcher shop in the area since the Dutch Meat Market on Marion Street closed a few years ago.

He said Bouchée Boucher, along with the hair salon which opened earlier on the ground floor of the same building, will add new life to the corner.

“That corner is such a visible corner, so I think there is a lot of potential there. And look at that building, and how investment has triggered new tenants there.”

Svenne said that’s another reason they chose that location.

“It’s practically a brand-new building. The exterior bricks are about the only thing still standing from the original building. They’ve done an amazing job. It has the charm of an older building in an older neighbourhood, but it’s like being in a new building because the renovation was so well done and was so extensive.”

Gousseau said passersby are also going to start noticing some big changes over the next month or two to the exterior of the two-storey office/retail building that Enterprises Riel owns on the northeast corner of the same intersection.

As reported last year, Enterprises Riel plans to extensively renovate the building inside and out. The exterior renovations include installing a new roof, new awnings, and adding windows on the west side of the building. The inside will also be extensively renovated and an elevator added to provide wheelchair access to the second floor.

Gousseau said the agency hopes to have the exterior renovations completed within the next four to six weeks, which should make it easier to attract new tenants.

“We’re a small, not-for-profit organization, so it’s tough for us to undertake big things real fast. But we’ll get there.”

Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.

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