Letter to the Editor

by Earl Barish,

President and CEO of Salisbury House of Canada Ltd.

I feel compelled to comment on the recent decision of the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) to allow SSP America, the master holder of the Food Services Rights for our new James Richardson Airport to terminate their contract with Salisbury House.  Contrary to the statement by the WAA in the December 30, 2015 Free Press article, “Nips no longer on airport’s menu” “based on some of the customer feedback we received, it was clear that travelers wanted new food and beverage options in the departures areas” there is no such evidence. In fact sales at the Salisbury House Airport location increased every month in 2015 over 2014 with an 80% increase in November 2015, the last full month of Salisbury House operations. I would love to know how many people “some” represented – I’m sure it was only a handful.

I have had many unhappy travelers and employees of the Airport facility ask me why we, Salisbury House, decided to leave our location at the Airport. I would like to clarify that “we” did NOT voluntarily leave that location. We were enjoying supplying our classic food items and hearing the often received accolades of many happy customers. We found that Winnipeg residents were thrilled to be able to grab a Salisbury House selection, either as a meal if they were employed at the Airport, or as some sustenance as passengers in process of preparing to board an airplane in their travels. For former Winnipeg residents now living in other places, this was the perfect way for them to indulge in their nostalgic longing for Salisbury House foods that cannot be obtained anywhere but in Winnipeg.

SSP America’s Vice President informed me that they had made the decision to “go in another direction” with regard to food selection at the Airport, with full support from the WAA. We now find that the “other direction” included another “burger” establishment. No one told me that until I learned of it in the article in your newspaper on December 30, 2015.

To add insult to injury, many of our former Airport guests, have told me they find the new “burger” place to be unsatisfactory and of a much lower quality than Salisbury House products. Why would the WAA agree to replace a local iconic establishment like Salisbury House, celebrating its 85th anniversary and recently voted the #1 restaurant brand in Manitoba with an unknown “burger” place that people find inferior in quality? Why would the WAA accept food services in our Airport to exactly resemble the Airport in Toronto, rather than encourage a unique Manitoba experience as they initially proposed? It is really too bad that local business is not supported by WAA whose strategic direction is to be “a source of pride for our community” by acting as “a community-based corporation that operates, manages and maintains and invests in your community Airport” when they are in a prime position to do so.

Hopefully there is no hidden agenda for this decision since according to the Free Press article, WAA has a direct contract with the Harvey’s hamburger outlet and operates it outside of SSP’s fiefdom. 

Earl J. Barish

President & CEO

Salisbury House of Canada Ltd.

787 Leila Ave.

204 795-8619

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