Local business and consumer news. Openings, closings, deals, sales, what to buy and where to buy it, we round it all up and give you an insider's shopper's special on small business in Halifax. Contact shoptalk@thecoast.ca to send a tip.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Finer dining

TC Demaresq browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2007 at 2:13 PM

Things are busy at the Finer Diner in Hackett's Cove when I call. Only a week after opening, co-owner Peter MacPherson says things are "rocking along." MacPherson knows a thing or two about rocking. After a long stint as the manager and booker at The Attic nightclub, he and his wife, Sarah Irwin, decided to try their hand at a business close to home. "We've been living out here for four or five years and we had been doing the commute to Halifax for awhile. We were tired of it." MacPherson and Irwin decided to put their knowledge of the hospitality industry to work and took the plunge by purchasing a vacant restaurant on Peggy's Cove Road. The building used to house The Drop Anchor, and the Cork and Pickle. The spot was in disrepair when they bought it in January, and they've worked "all but two days" since the purchase renovating the space. The restaurant contains many classic elements of a diner, including a checkerboard floor and counter seating. Irwin's artwork hangs on the walls, and a patio overlooks Boutlier's Cove, which MacPherson says is one of the most picturesque coves on the route. "Our slogan is "food with a view,'" he says. To contact the restaurant, located at 9976 Peggy's Cove Road, call 821-3434.

Market value

The Halifax Farmers' Market will be packing up and moving to a brand-new $9.75 million facility next to Pier 21. Construction on the new, eco-friendly building will begin this fall, and is expected to take about a year. Not only will it be twice the size of the current market space, but there is talk of it being a daily operation. Does this mean a cure for my Tuesday afternoon wild boar cravings? When it opens the market will be re-named the Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market, but I suspect most people will just keep calling it The Market.

Photo shop'd

Brian Larter, a freelance photographer in Halifax for several years, had seen need for affordable studio space for amateur and professional photographers alike. Employment ads for photographers run in local papers with the requirement "must have access to studio." Larter decided it was time to level the playing field, opening Aperture Studios at 1657 Barrington. "It's a way that I can give back to the photography community while also starting a sustainable business," Larter explains. The current, temporary location offers a large studio which can be rented for $25/hour, including lighting. There is also a small amount of gear for rent. Aperture offers memberships, giving frequent renters a discount. For more information, see the Aperture Studios website at: www.aperturestudios.ca.

The kids are artistic

The Khyber Centre for the Arts is gearing up for another summer of Khyber Kids art camps. This year the aim of the camps is to have kids interact with their community through art. The schedule consists of five one-week camps, each concentrating on a different area of artistic expression: painting, sculpture, performance, puppetry and mixed media. They will combine activities at the Khyber building itself (at 1588 Barrington) as well as field trips to nearby artist workshops. The classes are all limited to eight campers, allowing kids to get plenty of individual attention, and cost $160 per week including healthy snacks each day. The camps will run from July 2 to August 3 and will finish with the annual Khyber Kids art show during the second week of August. For more information call Abby Fry at 223-5829 or visit the website at www.khyberarts.ns.ca.

Sounds divine

CD Heaven in Dartmouth is under new ownership. Candace Redden has taken over the second-hand music shop from Brian Rippen after working for the company for 10 years. "I'll be running the business pretty much as it was," she says, "We'll still carry rock t-shirts and posters and other paraphernalia." Redden does have at least one big plan up her sleeve. "I want to introduce some events," she says, "I'm going to start having in-store shows with visiting bands." CD Heaven can still be found at 118 Wyse Road in the Dartmouth Shopping Centre, online at: www.cdheaven.ca , or by phone at 464-0123.

Bits and bites

The Great Canadian Bagel on Spring Garden Road is closed. A sign on the door thanks customers for their patronage, and lets us know that they are relocating to Bedford. That's a lot of bagels, Bedford...In other Spring Garden news, Timothy's Coffee, just up the street from the bagel emporium, also closed this week...Empire Theatres opens their new 12 screen multiplex at Dartmouth Crossing this Friday. The new theatre replaces the recently-closed Penhorn Mall cinema, and is fully loaded with stadium seating in every theatre, an arcade and all your favourite concessions. Take a gander at Movie Times (page 41) for show times...South End pizza fans may have noticed that Tomasino's has recently changed its name to Tomavino's. The obvious question on everyone's mind is: huh? A quick call to the restaurant reveals that the name change was strictly for franchising reasons. The pizzeria is looking to expand, and the name Tomasino's was already spoken for. Tomavino's is still serving up delicious pizza at 5173 South Street, and can be found online at: www.tomavinos.ca.

Give us the works. Email: shoptalk@thecoast.ca

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Restored ristorante

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2007 at 9:42 AM

It turns out that more is happening at Milano's Ristorante than meets the eye. Not only has the Chebucto Road restaurant undergone extensive renovations, it also has a new co-owner. Tom Hickey, entrepreneur superstar about town, has joined forces with Source Security CEO / restauranteur / dreamboat Ron Lovett as joint owner of the popular Italian restaurant. Both are recipients of entrepreneural awards for their respective businesses. Hickey was in the market for a new business opportunity after selling his offshore training company, Frontline Safety, last year. "I love good food, I've always wanted to dabble in a hobby business," says Hickey. "Ronnie has done very well with Milano's over the past few years, and has already proven it to be a successful venture."

Lovett has no intention of resting on his laurels. Milano's has a whole new look since it re-opened on June 19, including a new bar and a liquor license. For more, visit milanosristorante.ca, or call 431-6500.

Pies rise, cones dethroned

If you're waiting for Boticelli'sin Bishop's Landing to re-open, I have bad news for you. If you like pizza, I have good news for you. Maurizio and Stephanie Bertossi, owners of Bish, Il Mercato, Mosaic, and, until recently, da Maurizio, are opening a new restaurant in the former Boticelli's space. Pizzeria a Mano is described by Stephanie as "a funky little pizzeria," and will offer a more casual, family-friendly atmosphere than many of the upscale restaurants on the waterfront. The menu will include brick oven-baked pizzas, salads, soups and desserts. Pizzeria a Mano plans to take advantage of being next door to Bishop's Cellar, one of Halifax's favourite wine stores, by offering a varied and impressive list of wines. A large wrap-around patio will allow diners to sit either facing the courtyard, or Water Street. The restaurant is expected to open in early August.

Seven-day hangover

And on the seventh day, Nova Scotians rested...with booze! If you haven't heard the good word already, the NSLC has announced that, beginning July 8, they will be opening select stores on Sundays. Stores will be open from noon until 5pm for all your last-minute Sunday afternoon drinking needs.

Word is Bondi

Bondi, a European bistro and cocktail bar, is now open at 1566 Argyle in the former Casbah Imports location. The small restaurant is waiting until July 5 for its lounge license, which will allow liquor to be served without food purchase. The menu, designed by chef Newi McGrath, specializes in Continental European fare including pasta, grilled panini sandwiches, and an array of Italian, French and Spanish dishes. McGrath names the chili mussels as a signature item, along with gravlaax, a Norwegian cured salmon dish. For now the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with breakfast coming soon. The small bistro seats about 60 people. For more information, call the restaurant at 406-3230.

Heal the World

The One World Cafe on Agricola Street, one of the most peaceful places in town, was the stage of a violent attack last Saturday evening. It started when the victim, a 20-year-old male, flipped off a passing motorist who came close to hitting him at a crosswalk. The driver responded by shaking his fist out the window as he drove away. "I didn't think anything more of it other than he was just a really aggressive motorist," says the young man. "Then he came back." The car was a blue BMW, driven by a middle-aged man. "He started asking if I wanted to start something, if I wanted to fight. I kept telling him that I didn't want to fight him and for him to leave me alone." The driver yelled homophobic slurs at the young man before getting back in his car. He drove away, and the young man entered the cafe. Minutes later, the BMW parked outside and the man ran into the cafe and started beating up the young man. It ended with the young man being thrown through one of the storefront windows, the glass shattering onto the street.

This leaves the One World Cafe on their own with a broken window. But they aren't going down without a fight. One World Cafe manager Siobhan Murphy has spoken to police. "I was on the phone with the police for five hours yesterday," she said Tuesday. "I filed a new report. Now we're just waiting for them to get the guy who did it. We don't know if we'll be able to fix the window."

A whole new restaurant

A new restaurant is opening at the corner of Spring Garden and South Park, former home of the Italian Garden. Aladdin's Palace will be opening soon, with Lebanese and Middle Eastern food. Stay tuned for more...Flirt Boutique in Dartmouth has closed its doors. The shop specialized in dresses, hats and handbags by Canadian designers. No word yet as to who will take over the space...This August will see the debut of the Halifax Seaport Beerfest. The event will take place behind the Garrison Brewery at 1149 Marginal Road. Tickets will be $30 plus HST, available at all HRM NSLC stores...Also at the Garrison Brewery, the Halifax Farmers' Market is holding a press conference on Thursday morning to announce details of their new waterfront location. Stay tuned to Shop Talk for more deets as they emerge.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Let them eat steak

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 7:52 AM

Hungry Haligonians wondering where they can find Jon Alan's famous certified Angus beef steaks need only look around the corner from the former Jon Alan's Steak and Chophouse location. Luxx, in the Park Lane Mall on Spring Garden Road, now goes by the name Jon Alan's Luxx. Victor Fineberg, owner of Jon Alan's, purchased the former Birmingham Bar and Grill location and opened Luxx last year. When the 10-year lease was up at the old Jon Alan's on Dresden Row, he decided to consolidate the two restaurants. "We've taken the most popular Jon Alan's dishes and inserted them into the Luxx menu," says assistant manager Dale Redmond. Diners will still be offered the variety of the Luxx menu but they now have the option of the Jon Alan's steaks. Redmond also says the wine list has been completely changed to cater to the new clientele. For more information, call 405-4060.

Harbourside bay

Walk your aching feet into the new Mahone Bay Trading Company store, opening soon in the Historic Properties on Lower Water Street. This will be the first Mahone Bay Trading Company store downtown but the second in HRM (there's also a Bayers Lake location). The new store will sell a wide variety of comfortable shoes and sandals, including brands such as Clarks, Naot, Rieker and Portia. "It's a great location," says owner John Bourinot. "It's right on the street and has big windows." The shop is taking over the spot once occupied by Handsmiths and Bourinot expects it will be open in about a week. The Mahone Bay Trading Company chain first opened in Mahone Bay seven years ago. For more information, call the store at 444-7454.

Heppy heppy, joy joy

Heppy's Pies has long been a favourite at the Halifax Farmers' Market. Now the business has expanded to include a retail store at 30 Herring Cove Road. Heppy's had been supplying local grocery stores with its homemade meat pies but as owner-operator Corrine M. Weir says, "We wanted a piece of our own pie." Weir is currently promoting her products as quick and easy summer foods. "You can barbecue our pies and quiches and I try to get in touch with campers and cottagers about our pies. They're the perfect weekend food when it's hot out and you don't want to turn on the oven." If you don't believe you can barbecue a pie, go to the store and see for yourself. Heppy's always has hot samples available for customers in its cozy Acadian-themed shop. So far, business has been good. "The community has been more than supportive," says Weir, who also wants customers to know that her shop is one minute from the Armdale Rotary. Her pies are also still available at Planet Organic on Quinpool Road, at all Chris Brother's locations and at the Farmers' Market every Saturday. "I will never leave the Farmers' Market," she says. For more information and to see a full product selection, visit the website at: heppys.com, or call the shop at 479-PIES.

Overhauled mall

If you've been to the Halifax Shopping Centre lately, you've probably noticed some changes. And if you haven't been there lately, hold onto your hats! The mall is nearing the end of a $14-million overhaul, which includes both interior and exterior renovations. According to marketing director Linda Townsend, the interior work is 95 percent finished and work on the exterior will begin soon. Inside, the mall looks a lot brighter thanks to a new paint job, new flooring and hundreds of additional lights. The food court has been completely redone, complete with fancy new tables and chairs. The mall also has a new customer-service centre, new doors, new soft seating throughout for tired shoppers and, perhaps the most exciting, all-new washrooms. Townsend explains, "It's fairly typical for a shopping centre to be renovated every 15 years or so. And we actually haven't been renovated since 1989." Next up: The entire exterior of the mall will be painted and all signage will be replaced. The parking deck will also be getting a new stone finish. Asked about any new stores we can expect to see in the centre, Townsend mentions Banana Republic and Town Shoes and says those are the only ones she's allowed to talk about right now. Do I smell a Bloomingdale's? (Probably not).

Bits and bites

Naughty By Nature has closed its shop on Quinpool Road, but there will soon be a new store in Bayer's Lake. The adult store and tattoo-parlour chain will also be keeping open its locations in Dartmouth and Lower Sackville. For more information or to shop online, go to the website at naughtybynatureonline.com...The Halifax Shopping Centre Annex is now home to a trio of plus-size ladies' clothing stores. Addition-Elle, Pennington's and MXM have now opened in the space once occupied only by Pennington's. All three stores are part of the Reitman's Group of retail clothing shops. Neither Addition-Elle nor Pennington's is new to HRM, but it will be the area's first MXM store. MXM is aimed at younger size-14-plus customers...Milano's Ristorante at 6430 Chebucto Road is undergoing some cosmetic renovations, which should be complete by next week. The patios will also soon be open. Contact the restaurant at 431-6500.

Got a new look? Give us a peek. Email: shoptalk@thecoast.ca.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Penny drops (its name)

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2007 at 8:08 AM

The thing about copper is that it can tarnish. That's why the Copper Penny owners decided it was time to polish up the Clayton Park bar and restaurant. " spent $100,000 on renovations to the interior and there are going to be renovations outside as well," says manager Scott Samways. "The new look is far removed from the Copper Penny. It's a very current pub-look." The new image includes dark wood throughout the restaurant, lots of natural light and a brand new name. The bar now goes by the very proper and British name Winston's Pub and Eatery. Asked why the decision was made to overhaul the Penny, Samways explains, "Clayton Park has changed demographically in recent years. We're keeping up with the Joneses." Winston's will be unveiling a new menu soon. The drink menu will also feature classy beverages such as martinis. And did somebody say entertainment? An upgraded look and image means upgraded entertainment. Trooper and Honeymoon Suite are both heading for Winston's this summer to "Raise a Little Hell" and "Feel It Again," respectively. The Irish Descendants will also be hitting the stage during the summer for what Samways calls "St. Patrick's Day in July." For more information, call 443-7024.

Sweet moves

What's better than chocolate? Answer: Lots of chocolate. Rosemary's Chocolates has long been the place to go in Halifax for handmade Belgian chocolates and truffles. Now, owner Rosemary Bowman has decided to move her shop from Robie Street to the Atlantic City Centre Mall on Spring Garden Road. "It's a more convenient location for most people," Bowman says. The new upscale shop is now open seven days a week, upstairs from Pete's Frootique. Bowman says there will be lots of new products, but promises that old favourites such as chocolate-covered ginger will still be available. Rosemary's also offers specialty products such as dairy-free chocolate and the entire shop is peanut-free. A grand opening is planned for Sunday, June 10, with chocolate fountains and lots of free samples. Call the store at 454-9588.

Tweed whacker

Turning our attention back across the Harbour to Dartmouth Crossing, another store is set to make its HRM debut. Tweed & Hickory is an Ontario-based chain that promises "An Adventure in Lifestyle." This adventure includes high-end casual wear for men, women and children, plus a wide selection of upscale products for homes including kitchenware. The boutiques area of Dartmouth Crossing should be opening this spring. To learn more about Tweed & Hickory, see www.tweedandhickory.com

Tarek yourself

Tarek Kostec loves his customers so much, he's willing to go to them. The owner of Tarek's Cafe, the incredibly popular middle eastern restaurant on Robie Street, has opened a second location in the Spring Garden Place food court, across from Ko-Doraku. "Lots of customers told me they need me downtown because they don't have time to come uptown," Tarek explains. "I listen to my customers." The space occupies one that has been vacant since 24 Carrots Bakery left. Tarek says the menu is 95 percent the same as the original location and serves the same "good quality, healthy food" that has made him famous. The new spot will be open until 5pm every day except Sundays. For more information call 444-8723.

Holy crepe!

The waterfront has long been a place to stroll leisurely along with a tasty snack in your hand. Now there's one more delicious option for tourists and snackers. La Petite Creperie is a new stand offering an array of European-style crepes and Belgian waffles. This may not sound portable, but the crepes are rolled in paper so you can walk and eat. La Petite Creperie has taken over the small stand right on the boardwalk that formerly housed Black Bear Ice Cream. The menu offers sweet treats such as sugar and butter crepes, and also crepes with savoury fillings if you'd rather make a meal of it. After its first week of operation, manager Marilyn Conrad says people are starting to take notice of the new kid on the block. "It's a nice, light meal," she says. "And it's something different." For more information call 444-8680.

Bits and bites

You may have noticed some new automated DVD rental terminals around town. Swipe & Go DVD Rentals is the latest company to bring the concept of self-serve movie rentals to Halifax. Customers choose and rent their movies from an automated kiosk using their credit cards. The Swipe & Go kiosks hold more than 110 new releases and no membership is required. The DVDs come in their original packaging and cost $2.99 plus tax per day. There are presently two kiosks in Halifax, one in the lobby of the Maritime Centre at 1505 Barrington Street and one at the Perks Newsstand at 1781 Lower Water Street. For more information call 429-4282...Rumour has it that Scotia Square is going to be the home of the latest Quiznos Subs restaurant. It will be the fifth Quiznos location in HRM...The paper covering the windows of the former Nail and Kneecap restaurant on Quinpool Road is now also covered in Greek Fest posters. Is this a clue to what might take over the space? Stay tuned....

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