Big changes are coming to the Village, kicking off with the rebranding of Fuzion restaurant as a bistro-pub called The Old Vic, starting May 1.
The Old Vic – the name alludes to the Victorian mansion that is its home – will serve food by day, in a price range somewhere between O’Grady’s and the Fox and Fiddle, while at night it will continue to host gay parties. It will also offer 13 different beers on tap, up from its current three.
The rebranding follows last year’s drama over a proposed 25-storey condo tower on the site that would have forced out the restaurant, as well as neighbouring businesses and residential units. The developers officially withdrew their proposal last year following a massive community outcry.
Further up Church St, Java Jive is changing hands after 18 years at the corner of Isabella St. An employee there, Eugene Johnson, is expected to take ownership May 7 and is planning to hold a grand-opening ceremony on June 1.
In the intervening period, Johnson plans a total makeover of the café, both inside and out, including a name change. The new name hasn’t been settled yet, but the menu is expected to stay the same.
Meanwhile, Strategic Property Management, the landlord of the space that housed Reither’s Market until March 19, is busily preparing to put the space back on the market.
The location is likely to be hotly contested by prospective tenants. At 2,400 square feet, it could be one of the largest spaces to become available on the strip in recent years, or it could be split into two smaller outlets.
Dane Fader, the building’s property manager, says he had already received five calls about the property as of last week, and it hasn’t even been put on the market yet.
SPM is looking for a tenant, or tenants, to commit to a five-year lease and will accept tenants with solid plans to pay the rent. That could mean a new restaurant, bar or club in the space.
“We would entertain any type of use, really,” Fader says. “I would imagine — typically food and alcohol uses always tend to do well in the Village.”
One business whose future remains opaque is the Village Rainbow Café, which abruptly closed its doors and papered over its windows in January, leaving a note on the door explaining that the building was being renovated. That note has since been removed.
Rumours are swirling around the Village that the café will reopen shortly, having finally paid off months of back rent. But even more people suggest that the café has gone completely bankrupt and the property is up for lease. Rumour has it that former Village Rainbow employees are still owed weeks of back pay.
Xtra was unable to reach the Village Rainbow’s owners or the building’s landlord.
Another rumour that can be squashed is a persistent story that Flash is going to close and George’s Play will move into its space. Gilles, who owns the two clubs, insists they are both staying put.