Friday, January 31, 2014

Ray's Lebanese Food and A Taste of India are being evicted from Scotia Square

What was once the best mall food court in Canada is being systematically dismembered.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 3:44 PM

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Two favourites at the Scotia Square food court have been told to leave. Crombie REIT, which manages the mall, has given Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine and Taste of India until March 31 to vacate the premises.

"They told me yesterday," says Ray Khattar. "I've been here 31 years, and I have never missed a rent payment, not one month."

Ray's had won The Coast's Best of Halifax poll for "Best Falafel" so many times—13 years in a row—that we had to retire the category in 2007.

Khattar says that five months ago mall management came to him and said they had to double his rent. "I said, OK, let's talk," he says. "But nothing. Yesterday, when they told me, they gave me no options. They didn't talk about raising the rent or moving me, nothing."

Today, Khattar seems shell-schocked. He's still serving food for a never-ending line of customers, and we squeeze in a bit more of the interview every time he makes it to the cash register. He says he hasn't had time to think about what to do next, or if he might re-open elsewhere.

A Taste of India was also quite busy with a well-after-lunch crowd, and the owners didn't have time to talk except to confirm that they, too, had been told to leave.

Crombie did not immediately return a call for comment.

Khattar says he was told Crombie is focusing on getting more franchised operations into the food court. That seems to be consistent with recent events: in 2011, PG's was evicted in order to reconfigure the food court to accommodate a Tim Hortons outlet. Last week, a McDonald's opened. Unconfirmed rumour on Twitter is that a Subway will replace Ray's and Taste of India.

Count us among the extremely upset. Scotia Square's was probably the best mall food court in the country, with interesting and varied local operations, and yet there seems to be a conscious effort to destroy that reputation. It's beyond sad. It's sick.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Boneheads' Fairview location has closed

Sorry to say, Dutch Village Road, but the barbeque is over

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 4:27 PM

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Just over a year after opening it, Boneheads BBQ announced via Twitter last night that it had closed its Fairview location.

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It's sad news for diners in the Dutch Village Road area, but rest easy meat lovers—the grill is still on at Boneheads' flagship location (1014 Barrington Street).


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The Carleton's new face

A new majority owner, some renos, a new menu and... Jane's brunch? (!!)

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 12:37 PM

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After five years The Carleton Bar & Grill (1685 Argyle Street) is getting a makeover, but the changes aren’t only skin deep.

This week brought not just the news that the bar would be closed until Friday for renovations, but that Mike Campbell—a partial owner of the business from the get-go—had taken over majority ownership. After a hard-fought battle running The Carleton by committee in an “economic climate that’s insane, and a business that’s even more insane”, the longtime music scene fixture stepped up to the plate and accepted an offer to buy out some of his partners.

“I pretty much have all my eggs in one basket. I believe the city is going to come back. It’s been to the brink but I'm seeing cranes in the air, residential development, downtown living, all these signs that the economy may pick up,” says Campbell. “Maybe they’ll build a ship someday, maybe there will be high paying jobs out here...maybe the city will become what I always though it could become. The last thing on earth I would want would be to fall down as soon as that stuff happens.”

Campbell’s first orders of business were giving the space a facelift—cozying things up a bit with banquette seating and new lighting—and putting some careful consideration into the menu. He says while they bar hasn’t struggled in terms of earning its reputation as a quality live music venue, the restaurant side of the business could use a revamp. “The food is really good but people just don't know about it. So I thought I’d reach out to somebody that did a really great job on that side.”

That somebody is Jane Wright (of jane’s on the common, but you knew that already). She’ll share her expertise as a menu consultant, bringing suggestions to the table along with some of her products, desserts and hopefully her famous brunch, too. Campbell says the goal is to launch the new food lineup in the next month or so, including a transplanted version of the line-up-worthy jane's brunch.

“If it was just me I'd probably be more frightened than I am. But it's amazing watching people help build and clean up,” says Campbell, who on top of his reliable Carleton staff has recruited restaurant and entertainment scene veteran—and friend of 40-plus years—Gord Lapp as the bar’s new GM.

“I’ve risked pretty much everything, but I know the second phase will be better than the first. And the first one wasn't bad.”

The Carleton re-opens this Friday night.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Untitled Eats is closed

After two years of serving the art gallery crowd Uptown Catering's resto bows out

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 2:09 PM

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Your next visit to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia might leave you a little hungry—Untitled Eats (1723 Hollis Street) has officially closed its doors.

The AGNS’ restaurant, known for its hot eats and cocktail nights, has been run by The Armview’s (7156 Chebucto Road) sister company, Uptown Catering since late 2011. They couldn't be reached for comment on the closure.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Mid Point Cafe set for Spring Garden

Ottoman owner takes on the former Second Cup space

Posted By on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 4:48 PM

5425 Spring Garden post-Second Cup - PHOTO BY ELLIOTT MAGILL
  • 5425 Spring Garden post-Second Cup
  • photo by Elliott Magill

The finely ground beans had barely settled at the former Second Cup (5425 Spring Garden Road) before we got word that the prime real estate had been scooped up by another coffee shop. Can Hicyilmaz, owner of the Cup’s neighbouring hookah bar Ottoman Cafe (5411 Spring Garden Road), had the space in the back of his mind since he’d gotten word the franchise would be moving out about a year ago, he says.

Serving up piping hot Java Blend coffee and fresh, locally-sourced lunch options like salads and sandwiches, Mid Point Cafe—inspired by the for chain cafes of Spring Garden Road—is in reno mode now, but is set to open in February. It's set to supply local fixes from 6am to midnight

“When I go to buy anything I don't go with franchised places, that’s is how I am,” says Hicyilmaz, who wants his customers’ money to stay in Nova Scotia. “I buy stuff from local markets and farmers. If you spend your money on Starbucks, it doesn't come back to you.”

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

A second helping of Smiling Goat

The downtown cafe will open another location at Bishop's Landing

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 9:36 AM

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The closure of Bishop’s Landing’s Caffe Ristretto (1475 Lower Water Street) has a double shot of silver lining. Coffee master the Smiling Goat Organic Espresso Bar (1551 South Park Street) has announced that it will be opening a second location in Ristretto’s former piazza facing space.

"It's weird, I had always been eyeing that spot. Right from when we opened on South Park I was looking at other spots in town and that location really resonated with me," says Geoff Creighton, co-owner of of the seven-year-old cafe who says the opportunity came up out of the blue when Ristretto's owners opted to not renew their lease. "We looked at some other places, but there was never really the perfect fit. I couldn't believe my luck when they [Southwest Properties] called me."

Creighton says the new space, which is three times the size of the South Park Street location, does make him a little nervous but he's optimistic about what's to come. Sticking with Smiling Goat's focus on great, premium coffee (from local roasters like Java Blend and North Mountain Fine Coffee), the new location will also offer small eats—sandwiches and soups—and allow for much more seating space.

"We have the whole run of people, everybody comes in, but they all on comment on the coffee and the espresso," he says. "Bishops Landing has same attention to detail with all of those retailers. They're all premium, local, attention-to-detail kind of retailers. And they cater to a clientele that's a little more discerning, not necessarily upscale, but discerning."

Creighton has his eyes on March 1 as an opening date for the second Goat. You can peep on reno progress on the cafe's new blog here.

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Vol 27, No 4
June 20, 2019

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