Revitalization

Discerning Bar District Downtown?

By Jason Leach
Published March 23, 2010

Well, we can kiss James North goodbye, now that this was printed in the Spec. The local NIMBYs who run the show at City Hall will be sure that this new wave of investment is halted in its tracks before there is any "Hess on James".

Don't local entrepreneurs know by now? You're allowed to open seedy bar after seedy bar on Barton Street with nightly fights, arrests and general alcohol abuse, but don't dare try to open a cool licensed cafe downtown or the NIMBYs will be all over you.

Of course, I'm being tongue in cheek. This is a great news story about James North:

[The Brain owner Brad] Chichakian's grand scheme is to help create a new bar district in town. Some of the elements are beginning to come together, including final negotiations for a licenced My Dog Joe to take over the ground floor of next door's Hotel Hamilton.

Two weeks ago, Chichakian bought the nearby Ricca Furniture store where he hopes to open a licenced cafe. "I believe this is going to be a more interesting stretch than Hess Village, with a more discerning clientele."

I can only hope that the Locke Street NIMBYs stay in the west side of downtown and let James evolve into an awesome urban hub with dining, culture and attractions for every taste. Maybe even - gasp - patios!

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2010 at 15:11:03

WET T-SHIRT CRAWL? HOMOPHOBIC REMARK CRAWL? STABBY FIGHT CRAWL?

Imagine the possibilities. :)

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 15:22:47

I hope the NIMBYs stay away. I would love something like this...

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 15:36:17

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2010 at 16:18:20

Did Jason specifically say anything about the poor in his post? I think this is an overreaction.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 16:29:54

grassroots, I just re-read my post in case I missed something, but I didn't mention or even suggest anything about the poor. My Barton St comment (I assume this is what you are talking about) is meant to direct criticism at some of the less than stellar owners of bars in that area that seem to have no problem selling $2.00 beers all night long and then having to call the police to break up fights. I've chatted with local cops and they tell me that they get called to the same places all the time on Barton for the same thing. I have no clue if the patrons are lawyers or poor people, nor was that the point.

The point is, we see successful business operations punished in our downtown area far too often (West Town on Locke, Hess Village) due to the bad behaviour of a few unruly patrons among the thousands that come to Hess and to a lesser extent, Locke. I don't have numbers, but I'm sure that the ratio of police calls per 100 persons is higher on Barton than it is at Hess. Yet the city does nothing about Barton. Hess actually draws in visitors from the GTA and all over the province so we try to clamp down on it and drive business out for being successful. Perhaps we should realize that any overcrowding problem in Hess is due to the lack of options for folks looking for a fun night out on the town in the Hammer. Add in several more options on Locke, James, Augusta, King etc..... and people won't all have to cram into the only 4 square blocks of vibrant, urban fun in our core. And if some bar owners in Hess seem to be the source of repeated problems - put the squeeze on them.....and please, do the same on Barton so that legit businesses there have a chance of surviving and perhaps growing.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 17:06:39

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 17:25:58

There is a place on James North that you can a glass of draft for $2.00.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 20:31:21

There is definitely a lack of places for adults to have fun in this city (not talking seedy stuff) All my friends (35 -45 age group) head out of town every weekend to Burlington, Oakville, Miss., and TO. I realize Augusta is a great place to go but if you want more than just a pub you're $%^# outta luck. A new bar district with a median age range would be fantastic.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 22:59:47

if james north turns into a bar district, everyone already here other than brad will pack up and leave, including his business partners. count on it.

i found the spec article offensive and repulsive. real estate speculation is one of the reasons the downtown is in the shape it is and helps no one except those who are in it strictly to make money and couldn't give a shit about the community.

i'm disappointed in jason for not seeing the disturbing elements of this article, but hey, you guys are the ones whole heartedly supporting the harbour as the must have site for the stadium too. this site sure likes to pick and choose when it comes to common sense about good urban planning. if stadiums create good dense urban mixed use areas then one would expect the blocks around copps to be a mecca for one and all 24/7. name one business or residential building that has located anywhere near bay and york in the last 25 years.

why the hell would any of you want to turn james north into something like hess? give your heads a shake people. seriously. go ruin some other street, maybe the street you live on would be a good place to start.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 24, 2010 at 08:58:27

This statement is sad:

For Chichakian, it was a property speculation in a nascent artsy neighbourhood and its attendant coolness factor.

Also, I am a bit fearful of this:

Chichakian's grand scheme is to help create a new bar district in town.

Not that one person can single-handedly create a "bar district" (well, not without a LOT of money), but I just hope the underlying push is not for a string of bars side by side akin to Hess Village. That's OK for a place like Hess or even Augusta, where we aren't talking about street level retail space. James needs to continue moving toward becoming a mixed-use extravaganza. It's close but not there yet. What's great about the gallery "scene" is that they are scattered along the street, not all clumped into a single-use destination, and they co exist with all sorts of other businesses and residential units.

Unfortunately, prematurely inflating the property values (by hyping them as in this article) will only prevent the mixed uses from moving into the area, meaning the spaces will only ever be filled either by those who have been there forever, or those who can turn a higher profit in the short term - such as nightclubs. If a "bar district" and "property speculation" put James north onto this path, the ma's & pa's, young entrepreneurs, and smaller profit small businesses will be shut out, and James will no longer be an interesting destination...

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 09:01:07

I have lived on James all my life. I think it has already been a bar district for 100 years, starting with Copper Johns in the 1800's. As a woman, I do not find it fun to ever walk through a bar district. There's the spit, barf, blood, used needles, broken beer bottles, dog crap, litter, blood stains, and then there's the ever present cat calling and some drunk trying to grab your ass. A bar district is fun for young guys. That's about it.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 09:02:12

PS my old man (old school Sicilian) suggested they call the new bar "This Ain't Ancaster"!!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 09:46:56

Not that one person can single-handedly create a "bar district" (well, not without a LOT of money), but I just hope the underlying push is not for a string of bars side by side akin to Hess Village. That's OK for a place like Hess or even Augusta, where we aren't talking about street level retail space. James needs to continue moving toward becoming a mixed-use extravaganza. It's close but not there yet. What's great about the gallery "scene" is that they are scattered along the street, not all clumped into a single-use destination, and they co exist with all sorts of other businesses and residential units.

That's the beauty of James North. It exists in this manner and even with My Dog Joe opening along with The Brain and potentially a licensed cafe in the old Riccas building I don't think there needs to be any fear of another Hess Village happening here. James North already has a solid base of retail uses and galleries etc..... What I hear Brad saying is that James will also now gain a few new places that are a little cooler and a little more tame than the old bar scene on James North. Anyone who knows My Dog Joe in Westdale will have a good idea of why it's such a big addition to James North. There simply isn't anywhere that laid back and with that vibe on James. I haven't been into the Brain yet, but have peered through the windows and it also strikes me as a more laid back cafe/bar like the Bar on Locke.
This is good news for James St and given the existing property owners that already own buildings along the stretch I don't think we need to worry about another Hess on James.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 09:47:55

PS my old man (old school Sicilian) suggested they call the new bar "This Ain't Ancaster"!!!

That would be awesome!

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By ThisIsATest (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 10:01:33

This is a test comment. Please disregard.

This is an edit on the comment.

Comment edited by ThisIsATest on 2010-03-24 09:01:53

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 24, 2010 at 10:46:32

That's what I'm hoping, but Brad invoked the Hess comparison, not me!

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-03-24 09:47:34

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:00:57

Jason and others who want another bar district in town - I just want to let you know I would sell my building and move my business (Mixed Media) - if James North was to become that. Has no one read Jane Jacobs around here? Don't you understand what is happening on our interesting little stretch?

There are already way too many places to get a drink here - perhaps we can start by looking at those places first if folks are looking for a bar in the neighbourhood. A great street is not just one thing - if Hamilton has failed anywhere is the reliance on a mono-culture.

Why do we need a rival to Hess? Why do we insist calling Ottawa Street the new Locke Street? Why is James North tagged as the Art District?

This isn't a healthy way to rebuild the city. We need neighbourhoods that have a little bit of everything that make living and visiting a pleasurable experience.

My wife and I have been working on James North for almost 5 years and we went from renting a space initially to buying and renovating a depressed building to house not only our business but other small shops that contribute to the life of the street. Our next step is finishing our upper floors to continue that contribution to James North. We are serious about renewal - but also understand to make this place happen again - it needs to be a slow and proper growth.

Before you all jump on this - when was the last time you came down here and supported the existing businesses? I wish folks would celebrate the journey - the finish line ain't what it's cracked up to be.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:05:03

We need neighbourhoods that have a little bit of everything that make living and visiting a pleasurable experience.

Absolutely bang on Dave. I agree with you 100%. You are one of the many building owners I was referring to earlier that gives me hope for the future of James. With folks like you and the Buttrum's etc.... we seem to have a good base of landlords in place who will continue with adding quality retail and mixed uses to this neighbourhood.

I'm sure you'll agree that the Brain and My Dog Joe are amazing additions to the street. I think the message has been missed by some who hear the words "Hess Village" and automatically assume that every building on James is going to be torn down and replaced with a gross spot like Rokbar.

Based on what I know of Brad and hearing his comments, he seems to see the need for cool new spots like The Brain and MDJ to add to the culture and vibrancy of this district. It sure sounds to me like he's not looking to replicate Hess Village, but rather add more discerning spots to relax for folks like you and I who feel out of place in Hess Village. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I only see that as a good thing for you and all of the other business owners on the street.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-03-24 11:06:50

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:31:51

Two weeks ago, Chichakian bought the nearby Ricca Furniture store where he hopes to open a licenced cafe.

Am I the only one thinks the loss of a furniture store for another bar is a bad thing?

Let's remember the 'trendy' areas like Locke and Westdale used to be full service neighbourhoods with all amenities. Does such a thing even exist anymore?

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:47:45

Jason and others who want another bar district in town

I'm not sure where you got this. My reference to Hess was to poke fun at the people on Locke who went crazy when a crepe cafe was announced for that street. They started plastering the neighbourhood with 'No Hess on Locke' signs in order to cause fear among residents that shoppers stopping for a crepe would equate thousands of drunkards staggering out of Rokbar.

MDJ and The Brain are the complete antithesis of Hess, which is why I support them opening on James.

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:54:27

Jason - I am a huge fan of places like The Brain and My Dog Joe opening on James North. We need places like this that are open later hours and bringing people down here to eat and drink. But I'm afraid the way The Spec and Brad framed it was that this place was the next Mecca for drinking holes.

The Spec had no right to publish a story that has no base to it. The economies of bars are such that they can easily make their money back quicker on an investment than shops such as ours or galleries can ever imagine doing in such a tight timeline. That's why people open up bars - they make money.

Shops and other retail oriented storefronts take longer to establish themselves - even at 5 years - we are only hitting our stride and learning from our past mistakes and looking forward to future opportunities in our business. But I have no interest in being part of a bar district - this is not NIMBYISM - this is "I and others have worked too hard on James North to let short term interests ruin a good thing" ism.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:54:56

Let's remember the 'trendy' areas like Locke and Westdale used to be full service neighbourhoods with all amenities.

I've lived on or near Locke for about 15 years now, and it is as full service today as it has ever been in the time I've been here.

When I moved into the area, Locke had some antiques/consignment stores, a disheveled used bookstore (Henry Black Bookseller), an awesome restaurant (Ron's Big Easy for those who remember), a convenience store, a gun shop ... and that's about it.

Now it has four coffee shops (one of which specializes in bagels), an organic grocer, a butcher, a cheese shop (albeit far too pricey compared to, say, Sam's in the Farmers' Market), a bookstore that sells new books, bars/pubs catering to different demographics, a few restaurants, some hair salons and barber shops, some craft stores (Textures is a great place to find unique, locally made gifts and 10,000 Villages is a great place to find unique, fair-trade gifts), art venues, creative professional businesses, and clothing stores (I understand Kataya to be a great women's fashion store). Even better, an honest-to-goodness bakery is on the way. (Did I forget anything?)

The antique stores are moving over to Ottawa Street North where they enjoy high compatibility with the garment/textile/knitting stores there, while Locke is rapidly turning into a one-stop urban destination for both day-to-day and upscale shopping.

In fact, the businesses that thrive seem to be those that combine the two: a reliable income stream meeting more commonplace needs coupled with an upscale offering that draws the browsers, strollers and people-watchers who help sustain the street's urban vibrancy.

All Locke needs is a hardware store and I'll be set!

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 14:36:12

you forgot florists, chocolate shops, the fitness club and an ice cream shop.

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By kevin (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 15:14:27

Hamilton Surplus on Dundurn has a lot of stuff hardware stores carry and it's cheap. It's next to the Cable 14 building. Great spot.

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By TD (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 16:05:18

Am I the only one thinks the loss of a furniture store for another bar is a bad thing?

Ricca Furniture was the family business of Michael Ricca, Hamilton's "Kingpin of Crack" and owner of the Sandbar. You're sad to see it replaced by a licensed cafe owned by one of the guys running The Brain?

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By Really? (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 16:34:26

Dave, you are an awesome contribution to the street! And we in this area THANK YOU! It's the bars like Classic Cafe & Five Star that are problems!

I fear for Ola Olay Cafe, right in this area. Why is it necessary for 3 cafes at one intersection? Are these 'developers' (speculators) just that uncreative? Can they not think of a better use of a building than a bar/cafe?

I have only ever seen The Brain operate during Art Crawls. It's never open during regular days (I walk this street daily). And what's up with Rajin' Cajun!? Closed unless it's Art Crawl night?

It seems James North is crawling (ha!) with property speculators who just can't figure out what to do with their properties since media keeps hyping the street, while non-art crawl adventures can show James North's true colours...

All-in-all, I love this neighbourhood any day of the month, and highly doubt it will ever turn into a Hess-like district. At the same time, sadly, it seems to be losing it's Italian/Portugese heritage as well.

But Hey; That's Gentrification for you, folks!

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 16:52:12

Ricca Furniture was the family business of Michael Ricca, Hamilton's "Kingpin of Crack" and owner of the Sandbar. You're sad to see it replaced by a licensed cafe owned by one of the guys running The Brain?

You'll just have to forgive me, I didn't know that. Maybe the spec could have enlightened us.

Comment edited by Jonathan Dalton on 2010-03-24 15:58:29

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted March 24, 2010 at 16:57:46

I have only ever seen The Brain operate during Art Crawls. It's never open during regular days (I walk this street daily). And what's up with Rajin' Cajun!? Closed unless it's Art Crawl night?

The Brain should be opening soon regular hours. Rajin Cajun didn't do so hot, it's up for sale as a business.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 25, 2010 at 14:15:19

Seems to me people are arguing over a poor choice of words. "Bar district" isn't the right choice of words. I understand people not wanting block after block (or even one whole block) of bars, but a vibrant entertainment district with attractions such as restaurants, bars, cafes, art galleries, shops, etc… developing on James North would be a good thing. Can we all agree on that?

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 25, 2010 at 14:51:23

absolutely Kiely. Imagine our King and Main looking like Queen or King in Toronto someday....block after block of vibrancy and every amenity under the sun. I guess we should start by getting James and Locke running successfully before worrying about our brutal freeways.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted March 26, 2010 at 10:03:14

I concur with Dave's cautious comments. A 'Bar District' is not appropriate for this stretch. Bars should be interspersed with other amenities and, where there is residential in the mix, they should be slotted in carefully (I believe this is what Jason is advocating). The Toronto Bar District/Nite Club district along Richmond/John is a nightmare for police and residents. Clustering bars together is a dicey practice.

As for cheap drinks, the UK has only recently started waking up to it's harmful happy hour practices. Teenage girls with beer bellies - not a pretty sight. Cheap drinks should be banned!

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By Gottasit (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 12:43:18

Despite the sad history of Ricca's furniture, James N. could use an interesting furniture store more than it could another bar. Furniture stores seem to be among the disappeared in downtown Hamilton lately, and that makes me question the viability of nearby areas as residential communities. Furniture stores are where people buy . . . furniture! For their . . . homes!

I recall that for a number of years, as Montreal's Upper Plateau gentrified and vacant buildings on St. Laurent were converted into trendy condos, the street-level shop windows began to display some pretty awsome furniture. Some of it was borscht. Some of it was pretty sleek stuff by Quebec designers. Artsy. I'm guessing this furniture was selling to the trendies who moved in upstairs but didn't have mini-vans to drive to the Ikea out by the expressway.

Full service commercial districts encourage people to live nearby. Specialty commercial districts encourage people to jump in their cars and travel cross town when they need this item, and then to another area when they need that service, and then go back to their residence somewhere that generates less traffic. Major arteries become inner-city expressways that divide residents from area services. Ever noticed the long line of taxis and limos on Main W. late weekend nights as Hess Village returns to pumpkinhood? Now there's a real piece of the Hamilton cultural landscape.

But another thing I noticed on St. Laurent is the number of second-story bars overlooking the street. Moishe's, a tony, long-established steakhouse is up a flight of stairs too. Don't see a lot of that on James N. for some reason, though there are some vacant spaces that would serve the purpose. Maybe Hamilton bar patrons can't handle the stairs?

Still, people get beat up and shot in Montreal too. Hell, I was there during a Second Cup bomb threat one summer, so I figure that sometimes some brawling Montrealers must get thrown downstairs too. It's just I never see it first hand, except on Toronto/Hamilton news.

BTW, I don't get to Hess Village much anymore, but at a recent unanticipated visit there didn't seem to be any shortage of women among the clientel. Or maybe they were all Ti-Cats in drag?

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2010 at 22:23:06

We were just in Montreal and really enjoyed walking along St. Laurent - it was great to see the use of multiple levels for a lot of businesses.

In our city, I wouldn't call the disappearance of a furniture store of that type particularly indicative of residential no longer being viable nearby, however - simply that perhaps a new type of furniture store will be sustainable as the composition of the neighbourhoods surrounding continues to (unavoidably, for good or ill) change.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-03-27 21:23:52

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By TD (registered) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 00:51:12

The furniture stores are disappearing for one reason: Ikea. You just can't compete with upscale cheap. And people who live in cookie-cutter developments usually lack the imagination to buy antique furniture (that wouldn't match their depressingly beige house anyway).

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2010 at 01:15:47

Ikea "upscale"? Hardly.

That said, I hear you. I got my own walnut dining set for peanuts.. from someone who thought the family heirloom just "didn't fit" into the house they were buying. Too bad for them...

With James North it's a bit different though.. If I walk into a house with that type of furniture you see through the window at Ricca's, you know that it's probably Nonna who lives there. And the other furniture sellers nearby (Hart and possibly the Salvation Army) have low-priced, low-quality furniture.

What I meant was that as the demographics of the surrounding area become more diverse in age and culture, new products will be required to serve that new demographic.

Sure, Ikea's cheap and has a bit more style than the average department store at competitive prices. But there's a market for not-Ikea as well. There's a market for solid wood, for one. There's a market for hand-made. There's a market for furniture resellers - antiques, mid-century modern, whatever. There's a market for new Canadian-made/locally made. There's a market for all sorts of other things besides just your "lasts for one move" particleboard/MDF, pine, or veneered flatpack furniture.

It doesn't have to mean prohibitively expensive for those who live nearby, though it probably will cost more than that $170 IKEA table... still, that type of specialty furniture isn't just purchased by those around it, but it's specialized enough that people will travel to buy it.

Wouldn't it be an amazing addition to an art distict to have some true craftspeople making furniture that's well-designed, carefully made, then creatively and playfully displayed?

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-03-28 00:22:13

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 19:58:50

The Brain looks like an upscale licensed cafe. Hess Village on the other hand appeals to the lowest common denominator. The Spec comparison is an uninformed quick surface treatment and tells a lot about the writer's inability to distinguish a drinking hole from an upscale cafe that appeals to the artists in the city.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 20:31:47

yes, The Brain looks really cool. Can't wait to check it out. MJD will also have a great, laid back vibe. There was absolutely zero reason to mention Hess in the Spec piece.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 08:42:24

I think of great stretches of spaces like in TO and I think what is probably missing is series of francise shops like Taco Bell, KFC, Starbucks, McDonalds etc interspersed with indie shops to get the cash flowing in. That may seem distasteful at first glance, but think Younge Street.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 08:56:58

I see your point when it comes to mainstream retail - H&M, Mexx, American Apparel, but honestly, do we need another Taco Bell or McDonalds anywhere??

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By Skully (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 11:27:42

City council should be doing everything in its power to get the likes of H&M, Mexx, American Apparel, etc into the downtown core...once we can convince the major retail players that downtown Hamilton is a desirable place to locate, others will follow...(the name of that heritage building on the Southside of King St escapes me, but it's the one with the all-metal facade, the only one left of its kind in North America, or something like that? Anyways, I think it's available for lease and American Apparel or H&M would be a great fit for a location such as that...esp. with the improved pedestrian aspect and Gore Park revitalization...)

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By Guy Ricca (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 12:09:16

Just to let some uninformed people know, Ricca's Furniture is definately still in business, having moved to a larger location across the street at 245 James N. (a building we have owned since 1982). As for Mike, yes he is a family member, but is not an owner. The business is owned by Guido Ricca, the same owner since the beginning in 1955. To equate our business with the Sandbar is bordering on libelous slander, something we simply will not tolerate. As for the equally misinformed poster about Nonna, this person has obviously not had the decency to browse our 3 floors of unique MADE IN CANADA fine furnishings, most of which is not visible by merely glancing in the window. As well, we would be more than willing to work with anyone who has the best interests of James St in mind, including Brad and Frank, the new owners of our store.

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By Family Matters (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 13:30:16

> To equate our business with the Sandbar is bordering on libelous slander, something we simply will not tolerate.

Lloyd, is that you??

FWIW I've seen several business owners shut out of attempts to open other businesses in the city due to past track records. It absolutely matters and local residents have every right to feel nervous given the family connections. If it's just one 'bad apple' in an otherwise wonderful family, I suggest you work hard to minimize the public damage being done to your long-standing family name.

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By Guy Ricca (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 13:53:36

I will not debate what we should or should not do regarding our family name with an anonymous poster. The simple facts are: our store has been a going concern on James N for the past 55 years. We will continue to do business for the forseeable future. I would be lieing if Mike didn't have an impact on our business, but guess what, there have been many positives. Most of our repeat customers (and new ones) are intelligent enough to know that we are totally different entities. For the people that aren't, it's not just our loss.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted March 29, 2010 at 18:23:47

Guy, I apologize for the generalization -- but that's always been my impression walking by. It doesn't look like a store that I have any interest in walking into based on what's visible from the outside.

I'm sure you do quite a bit of business based on word-of-mouth - unfortunately, as I don't have acquaintances who buy furniture there and can give me a different view, all I have to base my opinion on is what I can see from the window - immense, glossy dining sets and fussy couches. Why would I go into a furniture store that looks like it caters to a far different demographic, especially when my time's limited?

If you have a better selection, I admit to being misinformed - but no more than any other person walking by and getting the same first (and continuing) impression of the store and its stock.

Hopefully your new space affords wider opportunity to display items - especially if you do have many made in Canada. Perhaps contracting out the display work to someone skilled would help as well.

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By Guy Ricca (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 20:54:25

Meredith, I appreciate your response. However, it has been many years since we had an "immense, glossy dining set" in the display window. The last few window display sets have been much smaller 2 and 3 door buffets in keeping with modern trends. I'm not sure what sets you were referring to. The sofas also alternate between classic and more modern (but still traditional) styles. Mind you, our bread-and-butter styles tend to be higher end with the resulting higher end prices. This obviously does not appeal to everyone, considering our disposable throw-away trends some people adhere to. As for our displays, I appreciate your suggestion, but in all honesty, considering the many compliments we have received over the years, and our limited space for such displays, we'll keep it in-house. Our limited (in some people's view) decorating knowledge has served us well for over half a century.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 22:34:35

Jason, I was perhaps a bit glib in throwing around corporate names like Taco Bell. The sad reality is if someone tried to open up a KFC francise in the space where the Brain is they probably wouldn't have to go through 2+ years of bylaw hassles to open up.

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