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Butch and the Kid.

Butch and the Kid

Doug Odowichuk and Mike Bradbury, the owners of Bradbury's, could be called the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of the restaurant business. They steal customers away from other trendy Osborne Village-area restaurants, and have a wonderful time doing it.

Do they look like upscale restaurateurs? Hardly. Take away Bradbury's beard, longish hair and Chip & Pepper T-shirt, and you're essentially left with an easy-going fellow who likes to reminisce about his pro hockey days with the Atlanta Flames.

At 25 years old, Odowichuk is 10 years junior to the ebullient Bradbury. He is also the quieter of the two. With different outward appearances and different images, the pair bring a checkered history to the restaurant industry. Odowichuk had a background in cooking, but had been selling real estate three years ago with Re-Max Realty. Bradbury had just decided that the banking business he had been in for eight years was not where he was happiest. "They have banks purely for profit, not to help people," he contends.

Did our intrepid outlaws spend their time doing research and market studies? It was more along the lines of seeing an ad for a restaurant for sale, and deciding to buy it. They purchased the "Pas de Deux" in the Osborne Village with a two-month management contract to avoid hassles with their liquor license, and suddenly they were in the proverbial business.

"We did the entire renovation ourselves, including the carpeting and assembling the chairs and tables," states Bradbury. It took them 10 days, and an initial investment of $40,000, to change the tacky Pas de Deux into the fine dining atmosphere of what is now Bradbury's. Opened in June, 1989, the restaurant is already owned outright. Though the partners are a little reticent to give out cash figures, they hinted at $350,000 annual revenues. "And don't forget that it has been fun, too," laughs Odowichuk. "We wouldn't want to do anything that wasn't fun."

Their initial strategy to lure customers was again more along the lines of Butch and the Kid. They simply walked into other people's restaurants and bars and gave their customers gift certificates for Bradbury's. Not too sophisticated maybe, but what the heck. It worked.

They offered their customers affordable dinners, in an amiable, if somewhat bland, atmosphere, with cordial waiters and pleasant classical music in the background. They did all the cooking, serving and cleaning up themselves, putting in seven-day weeks and never leaving until the job was done.

Even though repeat business was booming - even the waiters were making $100 plus a night - the two entrepreneurs did not want to rest on their one-year-old laurels. They dove into a related venture, opening up Michael's downstairs from Bradbury's.

With all the walk-by traffic in Osborne Village, our ambitious duo decided another bar was the perfect accompaniment to their restaurant. Aptly named Michael's, the concept behind this new project was to develop a regular crowd away from the fashionable Market Square area with all of its nightspots.

With a spiral staircase, dance-floor and live entertainment, the owners are looking to emulate Cheers (the two strange-looking characters at the end of the bar the night I was there did resemble Cliff and Norm). With a finger-food menu and recreation room decorum, the place is relaxing and warm. It is like being invited over to your neighbor's house for a drink, except that you get a check at the end of the night. When asked who his specific target market was, Bradbury replied: "Between 20 and 50 years of age, or anyone breathing."

Organization for Michael's was a little more on the conservative side for these two, spending about $10,000 advertising on FM stations. They offer their customers more than just drinking and talking, with backgammon tournaments, amateur night for aspiring entertainers, and every conceivable type of music. If by some chance you do take a bit more of the spirits than is good for you, or is legal, they will also make sure you are driven home.

Being equitable fellows they have found an interesting way of dividing the responsibility and work. Bradbury does the talking and Odowichuk does everything else.

With awards for their Caesar salad and Chicken Dracula, and a steady clientele, the two look forward to being clear of debt in a couple of months. Not bad for a couple of renegades like Butch and the Kid!

PHOTO : Mike Bradbury and Doug Odowichuk enjoy the culinary delights and their restaurant/bar complex in the Osborne Village. "And don't forget that it has been fun, too."
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Title Annotation:restaurant owners Doug Odowichuk and Mike Bradbury
Author:Matwijiw, Colleen
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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