- 311 Portage Avenue
“How do you turn down a location that’s 100 feet from MTS Centre?” cracks general manager of Browns Socialhouse on Portage Avenue, Justin Guest.
The same year of its opening, the Winnipeg Jets are on fire in the first round of playoffs, and the hysteria is causing wait lists to form by noon on game days.
Not only is it steps away from the action, but Browns boasts the largest TV to catch the game on locally.
In fact, it’s the largest TV of its kind in Canada – a carefully crafted mosaic of 27 screens – which allows for cinema-size viewing, or for appeasing patrons by showcasing multiple channels.
For Jets games, there’s no arguments.
While Browns is a Canadian company started in Vancouver, the Portage Avenue location features many firsts.
“The premise of Browns as a social house is intimate, small and quaint… they’re mostly built in suburban neighbourhoods,” says Guest.
For the location on Portage, Browns expanded its capacity, while maintaining most of the staples of its identity. “Subway tile, solid wood, and a bar along the wall is never going out of style,” says Guest.
Plus, they held on to the vibe that distinguishes it.
“It’s very personal. We want to know who’s in the neighbourhood… create a regular base, know people’s names,” says Guest. “I love that people can see me at the Jets game after work.”
Recently, Browns won Pinnacle’s national foodservice and hospitality award for company of the year. Of its 60 restaurants, they used the Portage Avenue location to support the entry – and it’s already sparked a lookalike in downtown Vancouver.
“It’s kind of crazy that this is a flagship for a Vancouver company,” says Guest.
Though certain things may be mirrored in the new Vancouver Browns, there are some things that are too specific to Winnipeg to include.
For one, the patio never closes, and Guest has seen Winnipeggers out on the patio, mitts and beers in hand, watching the game through its windows in December.
They’ve got plenty of heaters to keep the outdoor space toasty – but ultimately, it’s Winnipeggers’ resilience that keeps it open.
Due to its location in the Alt Hotel building, Browns even initiated a room service program for the hotel, the first for an Alt.
There’s also plenty of local beers on tap at Browns downtown – showing love for the many neighbouring Exchange District breweries.
On game nights, Browns has been known to be a bit like a hometown matchmaker, pairing groups together to squeeze in more superfans.
“A social house is based on human interaction,” explains Guest. “I’m glad our first year brought this kind of energy.