When Mandy Goodhandy and Todd Klinck, the co-owners of Club120 at Church and Richmond streets, were handed a demolition notice for the 100-year-old building that houses their club, they didn’t view it as a defeat — they saw it as a call to action.
Now, the pair are a mere week and a half away from opening 120 Diner — a queer-friendly restaurant in the same building as Club120.
In a twist that could be ascribed to the luck of the Irish, the building was saved because it sits next to McVeigh’s, the oldest Irish bar in Canada. According to Jimmy McVeigh, Jr, one of the owners of the pub, they have no plans to sell to developers.
That gave Klinck and Goodhandy an opening to come up with a plan for the street-level space that once held Spring Rolls. The restaurant moved out after its parent company sold the building to the current owners.
“It was sort of an organic thing that happened,” Klinck says. “Mandy has always wanted to have the whole building.” The downstairs, which was renovated completely when Spring Rolls moved in, was ready to house another restaurant with minimal alterations.
Klinck and Goodhandy’s proposal was accepted, allowing the pair to turn 120 Diner into reality.
As first-time restaurateurs, Goodhandy and Klinck are learning how to deal with the longer hours and higher costs that come with running an eatery. But they have the help of their new executive chef, Richard Henry, the former chef of Toucan Taco Bar, Le Rossignol and Le Canard Mort. “The quality of the food and the experience that he brings to it is incredible,” Klinck says.
The menu will focus on homestyle cooking, with a potpie of the day special as well as other favourites, such as steak and ribs. While the chef is clearly not afraid of fat, there will be healthy options as well, including a bodybuilder’s plate tailored to people looking to add muscle to their frames.
Klinck says the restaurant will begin with dinner service and late-night dining in August, then expand into lunch and brunch service in the fall.
Club120, which has also been known as Goodhandy’s and Club Rockit throughout the years, has a history of throwing wild events, including the regular Sodom parties. But the audience for the club has expanded since it opened eight years ago.
“We are queer-owned and -operated and we have a lot of queer events, but we’ve evolved and adapted over the years,” Klinck says, chuckling as he recalls straight male comedians who have come to the bar’s comedy night prepared with jokes for a gay audience only to find themselves faced with an almost entirely straight crowd.
Klinck hopes the new diner will attract people who normally wouldn’t go to Club120, especially the families and couples living in the nearby condo towers.
The same towers provide a constant reminder that one day they may have to close or move. “It’s very frustrating,” says Klinck, who says a clause in their 10-year lease allows for the building to be demolished early. However, Klinck says they would not have invested in 120 Diner if they did not believe they would be there for a significant amount of time.