Capital Grill & Bar


With his west coast accolades behind him, including earning an EnRoute Magazine “Top 10 New Restaurants in Canada” honour for Fraiche, Chef Wayne Martin could pull off an air of pretense with his downtown Winnipeg restaurant.

Instead, he’s sticking to a formula he’s always liked best at Capital Grill and Bar on Broadway: an approachable atmosphere with elevated classics on the menu – something his parents would be proud of.

“My parents never went to a Four Seasons Hotel (while I was there) because they felt too uncomfortable to go in there,” notes Martin. “I just want it to be comfortable for everyone to come to… casual enough (and) homey.”

Winnipeggers have already proven they’re more than happy to cozy up in the Capital Grill and Bar on Roblin Boulevard, the original Winnipeg location Martin opened in 2015.

Since opening a second location in October 2018 downtown, Capital has seen the hometown crowd flock in for celebratory dinners, pre-game drinks, and simple market salad lunches.

“It’s nice to not be pigeon-holed as a fine dining restaurant. That’s the kiss of death to a lot of people I think,” explains Martin. “We just wanted it to feel comfortable, where you can come and have a Manitoba pickerel or a great New York steak, or just come and have one of our burgers and a glass of wine.”

After running two successful CRAVE locations in Vancouver – one at a very high-profile spot overlooking Stanley Park – and Fraiche, Martin felt ready for a change and was pulled back to the city he’d fallen for in his early years as a new chef.

“My first real cooking job was Minaki Lodge,” remembers Martin. “We used to come to Winnipeg – and it was this big city compared to the 300 people near the lodge.

“I could see that something was happening in Winnipeg.”

When his CRAVE location was set to be demolished in lieu of a high-rise, Martin packed his bags for Winnipeg. Though he was used to heavy foot traffic and high visibility in Vancouver, he didn’t immediately gravitate downtown to open a new restaurant. “Our realtor came to us and asked if we were interested in downtown. He kept pushing – you’ve got to see this place.

“As soon as we saw it, we said, ‘Oh my god, this is perfect.’”

Martin loves being in the centre of the action for Jets playoff games, and looks forward to feeding thousands downtown for summer festivals like Manyfest and the Winnipeg Pride Festival.

And even though he loves getting feedback after a busy service, most of the time, you’ll still find Chef cooking on the line.

“Always – I cook every day,” says Martin. “I’m happy being a cook… There’s enough people that want to be a celebrity chef.

“As long as I can cook and make enough money to travel once in a while, I’m happy.”