Five new projects will bring more Vietnamese restaurants to the downtown core, even along the unfriendly York/Cannon expressway.
By Jason Leach
Published April 07, 2009
This is a mini-downtown update, but it's more like a Vietnamese Update.
Those of you who know me know that I love Pho. I could eat it every day of my life. Lately, I've been keeping my eye on a few new projects and renos downtown - and wouldn't you know it, all five projects are going to be Vietnamese Pho restaurants!
First, a sign is up on the lot just west of B&T, Hamilton's legendary Pho restaurant, indicating a new multi-building project being developed by next spring with a brand new T&T Supermarket built to the corner of Park and Cannon, and new restaurant (I assume B&T, but more on that in a minute) to the west, with an entirely new building on the vacant lot towards Bay St with four commercial / restaurant units available.
The project may not be incredibly dense or multi-storey, but it is two stories in the market section and is built right to the street with parking behind the complex. This is quite a good design, considering the truck freeway it is located on.
Now, I chatted with the folks in B&T the other day and they made me nervous. They say they don't know the plans for this new project since it is the supermarket that owns the entire complex. They also don't know if it includes them, although one would assume that T&T would be crazy to lose such a valuable tenant.
I told them that I hope the project is built in such a way as to keep B&T open during construction, to which they all laughed (I'll take that as a compliment considering I'm such a loyal customer).
Across the street and slightly east, you may have noticed a new blue stucco building that was recently completed. It is two stories and is also built to the street with parking in the back.
They even have a nice concrete space for a patio in front of this building. I'm guessing they built it with the hopes that city hall will catch up to the rest of the world one of these decades and turn Cannon into a walkable, tree-filled commercial district.
It is begging for a 'Chinatown' design makeover, but let's start with the four lanes of speeding trucks first and then worry about creating a true neighbourhood commercial district.
(I'm starting to think that we should put Hamilton's Asian business community in charge of new downtown development designs. If this is how they build on Cannon, imagine what they'd do on King or James?)
Some of the units in this new complex have been rented out, and today I noticed a sign up for a new Pho restaurant coming soon in one of them. I was pumped, as I'm sure you can imagine.
That's not all. The former La Bocca Restaurant at Catharine and Jackson has been renovated and is now Vietnam Taste. Bring it on. You can't have too much Pho in one downtown.
Some of you will recall Pho Bo Con, which opened on York at Queen and then abruptly closed. I'm not sure if new owners are in place or if it was closed down for any particular reason, but it is now opened up again. I can vouch for the pho and the rice dishes from my one visit so far.
Last, but not least, renovations have been taking place at Locke and York in the old Asian karaoke restaurant in the Southern Ontario College building. A sign went up this week advertising a soon-to-open Pho restaurant. This one has me most excited since it's two blocks from my house.
The location has never been very successful as a restaurant due to the usual reasons - speeding highway out front. I know, I sound like a broken record, but don't blame me. Blame the folks who destroyed huge sections of our downtown 50 years ago with mega-highways.
I hope the surrounding neighbourhood will discover and enjoy this newest Pho addition to the Hamilton dining scene. Grace Food Market opened at York and Inchbury a couple of years ago and has done a great business in the neighbourhood, so it is possible.
And of course, the stretch of Cannon between Bay and John has a plethora of great Asian restaurants and businesses and proves that with a quality product, it is possible to survive on even the most unfriendly of streets. Just don't plan on using those patios anytime soon.
Here's to the continuing delicious development of Hammertown. Or should I say, Photown.
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