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Salisbury House is a Winnipeg diner chain. A major local institution, it was founded in 1931 by Ralph Erwin (who is notable for nothing else). The first location was downtown and seated ten at an old-school lunch counter, giving folks in the depression a "beef burger" and coffee for a dime. Soon, Ralph renamed the unappetizing "beef burger" to the more zippy "nip", a term that's entered Winnipeg slang (mostly among older people these days) to mean any hamburger. Winnipeg ownership ceased in 1979, but was bought back in 2001 by local private investors including Burton Cummings, he of Guess Who fame, and not-yet Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz. And the people rejoiced. Sal's has come a long way: these days there are 24 locations , so you could probably fit most of the North End in a Sal's somewhere, although the St. Boniface guys might not be too happy about this emigration.

It seems to be a peculiarly Winnipeg thing - attempts to expand, even into nearby Manitoba towns, have been miserable failures. Like most diners, mostly working class people go there: tradesmen, graveyard shift workers, old retired guys who know everyone else there. It's also a popular place for hipsters to go after a show, as it's open all night and the coffee keeps flowing. They pretend to like it ironically, but I think they really just like it.

If you are visiting Winnipeg, this is not to be missed if you want to get a feel for the city. Get a big breakfast - the most expensive is seven dollars, and you will roll out of there - or a Mr. Big Nip platter, or the Salisbury Steak. Some people like wafer pie, but YMMV: it's indescribably weird, in a custardy way. Just look for the pointy red roof.

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