Chez Sophie – the new restaurant on Esplanade Riel – quietly opened its doors on Monday.
The Parisian restaurant, owned and operated by husband and wife Stéphane and Sophie Wild, didn’t hold an official opening, but word got around quickly.
“It’s summer and everybody’s walking on the bridge and they go ‘Oh, it’s open,’” floor manager Caroline Rousseau said. “We rolled our tables twice (Wednesday) for lunch and supper will probably be the same.”
Chez Sophie – which also has another 30-seat location, Chez Sophie Bistro in St. Boniface – replaces the bridge’s previous tenant, Salisbury House.
Rousseau says the Wilds invested $250,000 in renovating the 80-seat restaurant, replacing the lights, table, chairs, booths, floor, wallpaper, all of the equipment in the kitchen and adding a dessert stand.
She says the couple hopes to operate Chez Sophie’s bridge location year-round, with private functions and special events like jazz nights attracting customers in the winter.
“When you go downtown to eat, you have to park a couple blocks away anyway and do that even in the winter, so what’s the difference?” Rousseau says.
“It’s Winnipeg, just dress well and take a walk. It’s worth it.”
Rosie Blais agrees. The 22-year-old – who ordered the spinach and goat cheese quiche on her first visit to the new Chez Sophie – grew up and works in St. Boniface and is a big fan of the restaurant’s other location.
“I’ve been to the bistro and I love the atmosphere but there’s something really exciting about being on the bridge,” Blais says.
“I’m so happy it’s them representing the gateway to St. B.”