Friday, December 30, 2011

David vs. Goliath in Westwood

(photo courtesy of the Winnipeg Free press)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Imagine going for a bite to eat at your favorite local Winnipeg restaurant, only to navigate your way through hundreds of 100 pound boulders.  Now imagine that you found out that the boulders were put there by a heartless management company as "punishment" in a lease dispute, with no regard for children, elderly, or handicapped residents in the area.  seems pretty far fetched, doesn't it?

Well that is exactly what has happened in the D-Jays parking lot on Portage Avenue in the Westwood area.  It seems D-Jays parking lot is owned by a company called Superior Management.  The restaurant owner and the property manager seemingly came to a stalemate over their dispute on the lease of the parking lot.  Rather than work on a civil resolution to the problem, or even declare legal action, Superior management has defied logic and dumped giant boulders all over the disputed parking lot.

This may have been funny if it were a Monty Python skit.  You may shake your head and say "only in Winnipeg..."  Now there have been two stories in the Winnipeg Free Press about the huge boulders being placed in D-Jays parking lot.  The first story mainly portrays the restaurant owner's side of the story, that Superior management have been unreasonable, and are trying to scare off the iconic local restaurant.

Today, a second story appeared on the situation that portrayed Superior management's side of the story. It clamied that D-Jays was being unreasonable, and impossible to negotiate with.  They also claim that the owner of D-Jays offered to sell Superior the land that D-Jays occupies, then reneged on the deal and tried to double the price.

Here is what Superior Management had to say about the boulders being placed in the parking lot (I am not making this up):

"I’m chagrined to read that the boulders seem to have aggravated some of our neighbours," Matthews writes in a letter to the Free Press.
"If you visit Westwood Village, you’ll see that we have used boulders throughout the whole of the shopping centre to define laneways, parking areas and property lines.
"At the western end in particular, we wanted to secure the required number of parking stalls for our own tenants, for sure, but we also wanted to create a clearer sense of the parking layout and the line between our two properties.
"In fact, these nefarious boulders do not block the established laneways or reduce the existing number of parking stalls. It’s regrettable if (restaurant founder and co-owner Dennis Johnson) hasn’t explained the parking arrangements to his patrons, but he knows what they are and we’ve given him plenty of advance notice of our positions and intentions."

hmmmm....who to believe....

In cases like this, it is wise to ignore the petty squabbling between the two parties and look for factual information.  While I am no private investigator, a simple public search of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench registry site paints a very unflattering picture of Superior Management.  it seems the property management company has been in court cases 16 times, most in the past five years in battles with various companies including (but not limited to) the Bank of Montreal (who also have a location in the immediate area), Nu west Decorating, MPIC, and numerous other private businesses and individuals.  Keep in mind that the registry does not publish every single case that found it's way through the legal system, so there could be many more cases that are not on public record.

One would think with the unsightly boulders being a nuisance and a public safety issue, that one call to the area's City Councillor would achieve a quick resolution to the issue, and have the boulders removed.  You would be wrong.   City Councillor Grant Nordman does not seem to care about the best interests of his constituents.  Here is Nordman's take on the property dispute, as reported in the Winnipeg free Press

Coun. Grant Nordman (St. Charles) has been contacted by several concerned citizens about the situation, but said "at the end of the day it's a private matter."
Nordman said D-Jay's customers have no right to park on property that the restaurant doesn't own. "It's business 101. You get what you pay for," he said.
Nordman hasn't been approached by D-Jay's or Superior Management, and said if there's a dispute, they should resolve it privately, because it's not a city matter.
Now I have no idea why Grant Nordman would ignore his constituents (the same people who voted him into office), but it usually means that the Councillor is in bed with the property management company.  I certainly would not want a man like that representing my best interests.

D-Jays has been around for decades, and is a fixture in the St.James-Assiniboia area.  The restaurant is an integral part of the Westwood community.  The reason that Superior Management dumped huge boulders on their doorsteps and not the Bank of Montreal is due to two things.- money and power.  Superior Management hopes to bully and intimidate a small Winnipeg eatery into submission.

I would hope that the people of Westwood, and the surrounding area would continue to patronize D-Jay's Restaurant, despite the large rocks surrounding the establishment.  I would also hope that many people would contact the appropriate people regarding the dispute.  I have listed some numbers that concerned citizens of Winnipeg may want to contact at the bottom of this article.

Workplace Safety and Health

Grant Nordman, Winnipeg City Councillor, St.Charles Ward

Superior Management, 255 Bell Ave., Winnipeg, MB

Sharon Blady, MLA for Kirkfield Park


  1. i believe the placement of the rocks is a serious offence to the regular customers and potential customers and the superior management does not come across as superior at all. Actually in a weird way they got more attention paid to the restaurant- and more sympathy. superior management looked as though they do not care about the disabled and elderly who find these rocks annoying and troublesome.

  2. Yeah, it is one of those things where you just shake your head and ask "What was Superior Management thinking?"

    On a related note, one person mentioned it was professional wrestler Chris Jericho's favorite restaurant (he grew up in Westwood. I tweeted him the article, and he replied:

    "This is brutal!! Free D-Jays my fave restaurant!!"