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Skinner’s restaurant booted from The Forks after 30-year-tenure

Skinner’s restaurant lease not renewed at The Forks after 30-year-tenure
A long-running eatery at the Forks Market will be closing for good, Global's Marney Blunt reports.

A long-running eatery at the Forks Market will be closing for good on Sunday – but it’s not the owner’s choice.

Skinner’s, known as the ‘home of the world famous hot dog’, has been in the market area for decades, but its lease hasn’t been renewed, according to a spokesperson for The Forks.

The restaurant’s owner, Al Thompson, told 680 CJOB he was asked – for the first time – to submit a business plan and apply to lease out the space, but someone else appears to have submitted a different proposal for the spot, which was accepted by The Forks.

Thompson said he was even willing to pay an increase in rent, and the decision has left him perplexed.

“We’ve been there 30 years. We paid a good lease over the 30 years,” said Thompson.

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“We have never been late with a payment or missed a payment, and we’ve given The Forks very good money. We’re a good fit for The Forks.”

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The Forks has undergone a number of changes in recent years, including a new, licensed patio and the renovated Common area.

Thompson said he understands that change is sometimes necessary, but in this case, he doesn’t see how having a Skinner’s location at the iconic Winnipeg market isn’t a positive.

“We have a 90-year name recognition in the Winnipeg area, a 30-year name recognition at The Forks. We’re the oldest hot dog vendor in Canada,” he said.

It’s also unwelcome news to employees.

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“It’s terrible. We’ve been here for 30 years at The Forks, and they’re just getting rid of all the old stores that used to be here. So it’s really upsetting,” said Micki Lai, who has worked at the Skinner’s Forks location for the past eight years.

“It used to be a family oriented place but now it’s basically a big bar,” Lai added.

Other people spending the day at The Forks on Friday were also shocked and saddened by the news.

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“It’s too bad, it’s been in The Forks since it started here, it’s been a mainstay. I go to the one in Lockport but for people in the city it’s great,” one woman told Global News.

Bindy’s has been in The Forks market since 1987. Owner-operator Andrea Tiwari says they’re now the last original tenant in the building.

“At first I was surprised (to hear about Skinner’s) and secondly I was kind of sad because they are also one of the tenants who have been here the longest,” Tiwari said.

Skinner’s is among the original restaurants at The Forks.
Skinner’s is among the original restaurants at The Forks. Randall Paull/Global News

Tiwari says although she’s sad to see the original tenants leave, she says the upscale changes at The Forks have been positive overall. She’s re-branded her business and been able to extend her hours into the evening.

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“(It’s) good change, I would say. Having the renovations and all different types of events coming in here, it’s been great for business,” Tiwari said.

A spokesperson for The Forks was unable to provide further details about what will be opening in Skinner’s place.

None of this affects the two other Skinner’s locations, which will continue operating out of Lockport.

It has become a favourite destination in Winnipeg, for locals and visitors alike
It has become a favourite destination in Winnipeg, for locals and visitors alike