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August 14, 2019 - Winnipeg, MB

An ambitious project now underway at the Norwood Hotel will soon bring elevated cuisine and fresh new style to one of Winnipeg’s most beloved gathering places.

Today Sparrow Hotels unveiled the new concepts behind the transformation of the 82-year-old establishment in the heart of the city’s French quarter. Patrons will get their first peek at the new facilities when doors open in late September. “It’s a challenge to reinvent a place that is basically a local institution,” said Ben Sparrow, CEO of Sparrow Hotels. “Our goal was to give this city more of the award-winning design that has been so successful at our latest restaurants. At the same time, we wanted to retain the warm, welcoming character that makes the Norwood special. Our new concepts capture all of these elements, and we can’t wait to share them with Winnipeg.” Inspiration was drawn from the history of the hotel, the surrounding community of St. Boniface and the latest hospitality trends. The resulting design uses classic, retro-inspired materials in a modern way, creating an atmosphere that feels warm, nostalgic and decidedly contemporary.

Three new concepts within this overall design approach, the Norwood's new restaurant, tavern and gaming lounge will assert their own distinctive personalities.

Pauline will be a stylish new restaurant with an old French bistro feel, serving simple, elegant fare for breakfast and brunch. The light, airy space will be dressed in the classic French colours of royal blue, white and cream, punctuated with bright pops of golden yellow, natural wood tones and coloured mosaic tile. The name was inspired by Pauline Boutal, a well-known St. Boniface artist who created fashion illustrations for Eaton’s from the 1920s onward. Her work will be echoed in murals and accents throughout the restaurant. “It’s our way of celebrating the surrounding community of St. Boniface, which is the heart of Manitoba’s French history and culture,” Sparrow said.

The Wood Tavern, the neighborhood’s favorite hangout, has been reimagined from top to bottom for a new generation of bar patrons. The new design gives a nod to the building’s 82-year history as a tavern while embracing the growing popularity of camping-inspired cuisine. The ambience will be cozy and outdoorsy, with plenty of dark woods, raw stone, warm leather and bright hits of brass. The tavern will also feature several private dining spaces for groups of up to 200.

Carousel, the new gaming lounge, will be a fresh take on the VLT area. The lounge will be directly accessible from the street, and will have its own bar and comfortable seating. Dark woods, raw brick, deep blacks and rich golds will bring to mind the heyday of casinos and a ‘secret club’ vibe.

Sparrow Hotels recruited the best firms in the business to create and implement the new concepts. The designs were created by FRANK, a Calgary firm that is a North American leader in the hospitality sector, and are being implemented by Winnipeg’s PCL Construction. “The success of our latest restaurants, Smith and ERA, has shown us that good design is good business,” Sparrow said. “Winnipeg is becoming known for its forward designs, and we thought why not bring that same quality to St. Boniface? It’s the right thing to do in such a unique neighbourhood, so close to downtown.”

The new concepts will showcase a dining style centered around the irresistible tastes and aromas of open fire cooking. The star of the show will be a new open kitchen anchored by an 88 inch live-fired grill, one of the largest of its kind in Canada. Visible from both the tavern and Pauline bistro, it will provide a feast for the eyes as it adds special sizzle to the wood-fired burgers, house-smoked wings and ribs and full dinner menu available in The Wood.

The exterior of the 100-year-old building is also getting a new look. Behind the scaffolding now in place, workers are removing awnings, refacing brick, punching through walls and installing additional windows. When their work is completed, the streetscape of Marion will be transformed. Instead of a long expanse of red brick, passersby will see individual venues with different personas. Airy white brick will distinguish Pauline restaurant, while The Wood will have a dramatic black exterior. Patrons will be able to enter Carousel directly from the street via a separate entrance, and a deep blue colour scheme will mark the shared entrance to The Wood and Pauline.

The renewal is part of a bigger revitalization of the Marion-Taché corner, including new developments by the Black Bird eatery and Enterprises Riel. “The Norwood BIZ is aiming to make Marion Street the next Corydon Avenue, and we’re proud to play a leading role,” Sparrow said. “Downtown developments may get most of the attention these days, but some of the most exciting projects are happening just over the bridge in St. Boniface.”

Few Winnipeg hotels can match the enduring appeal of the Norwood, the oldest locally owned and operated hotel in Manitoba. The business was founded in 1937 by Merle Sparrow and has been owned and operated by Sparrow Hotels ever since. Today Sparrow Hotels employs more than 400 staff in Winnipeg. In addition to the Norwood Hotel, the company operates Inn at the Forks, Mere Hotel on Waterfront Drive and ERA Bistro and Catering at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

For more information about Sparrow Hotels, please contact:
MELISSA MULDER, Food and Beverage Manager