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The history of Salisbury House Restaurant in Manitoba

Mayor Steve Juba
& Ralph Erwin

In 1933, a restaurant was opened adjacent to the Texaco station at Broadway & Osborne. The Great West Life Building is there now.


Flin Flon, Manitoba opened in 1935.

It all began in 1931. Ralph Martin Erwin, a director with the travelling Tent Show Chautauqua Theatre Company, borrowed $200. He returned to Winnipeg to open an all-night cafe on Fort Street, just south of Portage. The tiny restaurant sat 10 people at a small counter and would be named Salisbury House after Lord Salisbury. The restaurant featured its version of the new craze in the USA, The hamburger.


Although Winnipeg was a tea drinking city, Ralph introduced the new superior coffee made in a Silex machine. He had only one teapot in the building. If someone ordered tea, he would ask if they wanted to wait until the teapot became available, or would they like to try this new coffee. They did, in ever-increasing quantities. The restaurant opened with the banner "Dine for a Dime". Coffee was a nickel and the new Nip was a nickel. A year later, the second Salisbury House was opened on Kennedy Street. That building was portable and was moved to River & Osborne in 1937 and to Portage & Spence in 1940. It was demolished in 1964. The foreman in charge of building the 1932 version of Salisbury House was Stephen Juba, who would later become mayor of Winnipeg.

Kiddie's Day became popular in the 40s and 50s. For 10 cents, children enjoyed a Nip and a drink and entrance into a theatre (often the Furby Theatre) where they could win hampers and prizes. One lucky child went home with a new bicycle at each event. Bicycles are now part of the decor of several locations.

Early Commissary Delivery Van

In the early 50s, two locations opened in Fargo, ND, USA. In 1950, Minto Baracks, and Selkirk, MB opened. In 1951, the McLaren Hotel on Main Street opened. In 1954, our first drive-in restaurant with car hop service opened on Ellice & Roseberry. In 1956, the iconic Pembina & Stafford restaurant was built. It was a drive-in as well and housed our head office. It also contained a cigar stand. The original cigar stand was in the bus depot on Hargrave & Graham, which opened in 1936 and closed in 1964. In 1959, the Main & Broadway location opened in Fort Garry Court. It also contained a cigar stand.

In the 60s, Sals entered the Brandon market, which eventually grew to four locations.


During the 60s there was a proliferation of 24 hour coffee shop restaurants with 10 to 30 seats, mostly stools, along a service counter.


They are all gone now.

In 1964, the current Salisbury House Commissary opened at the corner of King Edward & Bannister. In this building all the breads, buns, nip patties, soups, sauces and pastries are produced and delivered daily to all the Salisbury House Restaurants. There is a retail outlet there called “The Sals store”. It is open to the public.

Late in the 60s and through the early 70s, Salisbury House went west. We opened a commissary and five restaurants in Calgary including one in Palliser Square attached to the Calgary Tower.


We had one restaurant in each of Edmonton, Red Deer, Moose Jaw and Swift Current.


The restaurants were sold as a group in the mid 1970s.

Late in the 70s and into the 80s, the market shifted from small neighbourhood coffee shops to larger quick serve restaurants with more variety and faster service.


There were two quick service concept restaurants developed in the 60s, Main & Matheson and Portage & Thompson Drive.


These were used as the model for 17 new locations.

As President for the last 10 years, Earl Barish has elevated Salisbury House to a prominent place in the Winnipeg restaurant market. In the 2000s we entered the sports venue market. We opened concessions in the old Winnipeg Stadium, the old Winnipeg Arena, Investors Group Field, the new Home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team, Shaw Park, Home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team and two public golf courses. We opened in the Health Sciences Centre Hospital as well.


On July 1, 2005 Salisbury House opened the most famous restaurant in Winnipeg on the Espanade Riel Bridge. With its fantastic view, it was THE place to be during the summer. This building was known to locals as “Salisbury House with the million dollar toilet” because of the huge cost to run plumbing to it.


In July 2006, Burton Cummings, who was a shareholder at the time, toured all of the Salisbury House restaurants and graciously autographed memorabilia for his many fans. Fast forward to 2010, and the company celebrated the opening of a new building on Leila near McPhillips, which not only featured our largest restaurant to date but also became the location of our current head office. In May 2015, Salisbury House expanded beyond the borders of Winnipeg for the first time in many years. This expansion was made possible through a joint partnership with Norway House Cree Nation, resulting in the opening of a new Salisbury House location in that community.


On April 2, 2012, the current restaurant on Pembina & Stafford opened. It contains a “Tribute to Manitoba Music Museum”. It features one of Burton Cummings’ early pianos, Guess Who memorabilia, a working 1948 Rockola jukebox, and several other unique historic pieces - a must see!And the growth continues. In the fall of 2016 we expect to open a large family restaurant in Steinbach, Manitoba. Also, plans are underway to build a new restaurant on our property on Ellice Avenue.

We would like to thank all of our of our guests, staff, and suppliers who have been part of our story over the last 90 years and who continue to make us a driving force in Manitoba.

In 1991, we opened a Salisbury restaurant in the Big Sky Travel Stop in Headingley. Eventually a Bar called Memories was added to the site.


During the 90s some existing restaurants were reconfigured to the new full service family style model. These included:


  • Deacon’s Corner

  • Henderson Highway

  • McPhillips & Leila

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