Ch-Ch-Ch...Chabaa!

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news

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After months of prepping, painting and renovating, downtown's newest Thai eatery, the Chabaa Thai Restaurant, is open for business at 1546 Queen. Restaurant co-owner and head chef Wen Prathumma, originally from Thailand, has been cooking in other restaurants for years, but Chabaa Thai is the first one he's owned. And Prathumma's ready to dazzle you with his culinary prowess. "I just want to make people say "wow!'" he says. Busy Prathumma did a lot of the aforementioned painting and prepping, too. The mural that greets customers as they enter Chabaa Thai is his handiwork, and so are the ornate carvings adorning the restaurant walls. "I've never done work like this before in my life," says Prathumma. The tables and chairs in the restaurant were all brought over from Thailand, as were many of the decorative statues displayed throughout the eating area. Chabaa Thai is open from 12 to 2:30pm and from 5 to 10pm every day except Tuesday. Want take-out? They've got that, too. And Prathumma's cooking has already garnered at least one positive review: "He's a really good cook," promises Kim Dao, Prathumma's fianc<0x00E9>e, and the restaurant's other owner.

Greece is the word

Starting next week, another restaurant joins the ranks of Quinpool's army of Greek eating venues. It's All Greek to Me opens at 6196 Quinpool, the former home of The Nail and Kneecap, this coming Monday. What distinguishes the new restaurant from other Greeks? "The Greek restaurants in the city...they're doing a fantastic job. They are great. But we want to do something a little more...like what you'd experience if you were in Greece," says Jimmy Zelios, one of the restaurant's three co-owners. "Essentially, we want to take a piece of Greece and bring it here. We felt there was just a void for an authentic experience from start to finish." Zelios and co-owners Helen Kapsales and Amy Aalders have also given the restaurant's interior a complete re-vamp. There are new stone walls, a stone-and-wood bar, new terracotta flooring and a new awning. It's all pretty fancy. Kapsales, who has been living in Greece for the last 20 years, will also be bringing her Greek expertise to the kitchen, acting as head chef. The restaurant's specialty will be its grilled meats. And watch for lots of platter-style eating (which means we'll all get to practice those sharing skills we learned in grade one). Just don't expect an intense rivalry between It's All Greek to Me and nearby restaurants Athens and The Greek Village. "We're not in competition with our neighbours. We're going to be basically complementing them," says Zelios.

Come see Seeds

Looking to support emerging artists without (necessarily) breaking the bank? Check out NSCAD University's new Seeds Gallery (1892 Hollis), which officially opened last week. It shows and sells work from NSCADU students, alumni and faculty—from inexpensive buttons, artist-made greeting cards and wallets, to $500 paintings and $3,000 statues. Most of the gallery's start-up costs were provided by fundraising by NSCADU's student union. "It's nice that it's by students, for students," says Jen Simaitis, the gallery's manager. The gallery takes a relatively small commission from all pieces sold (40 percent), which goes towards running the store, and eventually a SEEDS scholarship fund. The remaining 60 percent goes back to the artist. Seeds, now well lit, bright, and inviting, was once the home to the dearly departed cheap-drink haven J.J. Rossy's. "The colour theme in here was all black, peach and Pepto-Bismol pink," says Simaitis. Massive renovations were completed over the summer—the walls are now white, the floor is new, and the "drink railing" has gone. But don't take the drink railing's demise too hard. In its place you can find sweet, sweet art—and a counter made from a bowling-alley lane. Call Seeds at 494-8301.

Barrington Buzz

Some sad news for bargain hunters: Pinky's, the secondhand clothing boutique that's been open (in various incarnations) at 1272 Barrington since late last year will close by the end of October. The store is owned by costume maven Allie Edgecombe. For 20 years, the space was home to Allie's Costume Magic, Edgecombe's beloved costume rental and secondhand store. In November, she moved the costumes out, and Allie's became Pinky's. The costumes now have a home at Edgecombe's newest business venture, Allie's Boutique (1144 Barrington), which opened in January. When Pinky's closes, Edgecombe will have more time to nurture Allie's, which carries an ever-growing array of new fashions, accessories and jewellery (ordered from suppliers all over North America) as well as the standard Allie's secondhand duds and costumes. Eventually, Edgecombe would like to add a cafe. In the meantime, watch for crazy sales at Pinky's in the weeks to come.

Rest easy

Despite rumours to the contrary, downtown punk/metal bar, The Speakeasy, at 5640 Spring Garden, is still open for business and ready to rock you every Friday and Saturday. The venue closed for a couple weeks to re-group and to book some more acts, but it's now open again, and has shows booked for the next month at least.

Need some company, lonely shop-owner? Write me at shoptalk@thecoast.ca. We’ll do lunch.

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