Hermanos restaurant in Winnipeg closes, owners join fight against COVID-19

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A popular steak house in Winnipeg’s Stock Exchange district will close at the end of the month due to the COVID-19 pandemic – but its owners say they will quickly move to a new industry.

The founders of Hermanos Restaurant and Wine Bar, Noel Bernier and Najara Barros, announced Friday that they will permanently close the restaurant due to the pandemic and “the uncertainty of the downtown entertainment industry.”

“Hermanos was designed and meant to bring people together, bring them together and create memories as friends, families and couples,” the two wrote in a letter to clients and people living on the stock exchange.

“We just don’t know how to make that same feeling happen in an environment of [physical] distance, “they wrote.

“We know that the life of our restaurant depends so much on entertainment in the city center. … Without discussion or a way to keep these events coming back, there is no way to stay open.”

The owners said the closure was due to no dispute with their owners, who they said were “extremely supportive and willing to work with us on all fronts in these unprecedented times.”

But they said the problems started before the pandemic.

“Our business was severely affected by the construction and redevelopment of the streets in 2018,” they wrote.

However, Bernier and Barros will not leave the region. The two say they are planning to launch a new business called Exchange PPE, which aims to procure the personal protective equipment needed by businesses upon reopening and by indigenous communities.

Although Hermanos is closed, a new PPE supply company will be located in the same area. (Travis Golby / CBC)

The restaurateurs say they will do it with the help of Josh Giesbrecht, a member of the Roseau River First Nation in southern Manitoba and coordinator of the cannabis project at Red River College.

“Our native division will be a rapid response company focused on meeting the logistical and PPE needs to manage this health crisis,” said Giesbrecht, who will be president of the company, in a press release.

“We will act quickly and be flexible, to help as many communities as possible prepare their PPE needs before a second wave” of COVID-19 cases.

Finally, the company would like to be able to develop by offering masks for the general public, said Bernier in the press release.

Barros said that Exchange PPE would also seek to sell fans internationally.

“We are already in discussions with the state governments of Brazil for the sale of fans,” said Barros, a native of Brazil.

“It is very tragic what is happening in my country of origin with COVID-19, and it is very positive to be part of the solution. “

Closure of Stella’s in Osborne Village

Meanwhile, Stella’s Café & Bakery also announced a closure on Friday, announcing the closure of its location in Osborne Village. He cited the drop in sales and pedestrian traffic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This establishment was the first to open and will always hold a special place in our hearts and history,” said the company, which operates six other restaurants in Winnipeg, in a Facebook message.

The original Stella’s Café & Bakery site in Osborne Village is closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Travis Golby / CBC)

“We would like to thank all of our staff and all Winnipeggers for being so loyal to this place. We look forward to serving you in one of our other Stella restaurants soon. “

The Osborne site has 13 employees, who have been notified of the closure and will have priority if and when employment opportunities arise at other Stella sites, the Facebook post said.

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