Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Bar Street For Winnipeg?

Top picture is 456 Main Street today where Fox and Fiddle will be located

Middle picture is Fox and Fiddle on Yonge Street, Toronto

Bottom pic is 456 as the old Bank of Toronto

In the last weeks, we have been inundated with stories of bars and restaurants opening, often in the downtown.

One of the restaurant groups in Toronto that has worked with older buildings is Fox and Fiddle, an Irish pub-style group. They announced recently they going to build on Main Street near Whiskey Dix.

Fox and Fiddle is likely to appeal to those looking for a meal, pre or post sports or theatre events and after work or as a neighbourhood eatery. It is likely to bring a slightly more mature crowd than the nearby Whiskey Dix. And this is good, since there should be a variety of crowds up and down the street if for no other reason than to create excitement but also a civil interaction.

Whiskey Dix has been around a few years, overcoming some violent altercations ending in death in its previous incarnations. At 12,000 feet, it is monster sized and has one of the largest patios in the downtown area.

Violence is the type of stuff can destroy any bar even suburban ones. Security for bars and restaurants is both an internal and external matter. Bars have to enforce no weapons policies and over-serving protocols. Police have to be very vigilant and everyone should be aware of zero tolerance of shenanigans.

However, a lively bar and restaurant quarter can also be a boon for cultural and business affairs. It is not enough to have the Fringe Festival or MTS Centre in an area if there is nothing to do before, in between and after.

The streets of Portage and Main Street used to be lined with offices and retail. We have lost both offices and retail to the suburbs and in its place we have suffered either empty store front or offices or worse, large surface parking lots.

We have seen a scattering of restaurants and bars in the Exchange District and elsewhere but never in a real grouping like they have in Austin, Texas or Ybor City in Tampa.

The addition of Fox and Fiddle on Main might actually attract other similar businesses. At 3,100-square-foot and $750,000, this is a major investment downtown.

And it isn't the only one. The old Chocolate Shop restaurant is being converted into a Mediterranean-style restaurant. That 3,500 square foot location has been a restaurant for years aside from a stint as a cooking school. Arkadash Bistro and Lounge at 268 Portage Ave will be getting around a $300,000 facelift.

Farther down the street, some major players are sniffing around locations near the MTS Centre. More on that in a Portage Avenue update.

We have been seeing some interesting developments over the last several months. Except more private cash to start investing. And time to get some of the large surface lot landholders off their duffs and looking at possibilities.


Anonymous said...

20 yrs ago, you would never go to a bar on Main St. without being armed to the teeth.

Xtoval said...

The big obstacle is MLCC. Liquor is still grossly overregulated in the province. Not cheap to open a bar, which explains why they are all bland and corporate. MLCC even enforces decorating choices, like carpets. Separate licences for beverage rooms, cocktail lounges, cabarets, etc. make no sense anymore. But don't expect any change. NDP isn't going to attack MLCC and Conservative voters don't care about urban life. I live in Austin. Bars abound because they are cheap and easy to set up.