Martini bar or coffee chain: Locke St. continues to evolve. James North hums, and King East shows signs of life.
By Jason Leach
Published January 27, 2006
The Hamilton Spectator recently reported that the proposed Smokin' Joes Bar and Grill on Locke is actually a running joke with two business friends in the neighbourhood (yeah, we fell for it), so there won't be any Smokin Joes coming to Locke.
However, something will be coming to Lock in the old Tudor-style home at #215. The new owner, Ray Paquette of Ray's Place on Dundurn, wants to put in a Manhattan-style Martini bar with a health-conscious menu. Sounds great to me, and with the lawn out front just waiting to become a patio, this would be a great addition to Locke, especially for those of us who like to get out at night.
Hold on, though. Ray tells the Spectator that Starbucks came through the site yesterday and might want a location in that house. Now, I know that Ray is a smart guy and good businessman and will obviously do whatever makes the most sense to him, but boy, do I hope he doesn't take Starbucks up on their offer.
Talk about two polar opposite visions for the same space – a locally owned, health conscious martini bar or a mega-national firm with absolutely no conscience or remote concern for health. I wrote a piece last year suggesting that city hall develop a few 'no chain' zones in Hamilton.
One of the great things about places like Locke and Hess is the feeling of goodwill towards each other in the district. Ray Paquette wouldn't arrive on Locke hoping to drive the Bad Dog Café or Locke Street Bakery out of business. Starbucks would.
I've met dozens of folks who have moved to our city from Toronto in recent years in part to escape the constant domination of that city's neighbourhoods and business districts by massive chains like Starbucks and Second Cup.
This tug-of-war is repeated in major cities all over the continent as urban neighbourhoods work to revitalize, and do such a fine job of it that they attract the mega corporations that wouldn't so much as spit on the street just a few years earlier.
Here's to Ray Paquette's vision for a Manhattan-style bistro and late night spot on Locke. The alternative could be disastrous.
Also on Locke, the owners of the West Town Bar and Grill have bought the old music store at Locke and Chatham with plans for an expansion of the West Town, specifically the smoking room. A nice patio is planned here with ample space at the corner.
Patios, late night spots and more revitalization on Locke. Things are continuing to improve in downtown Hamilton.
Something is finally happening at the closed Mac's store on the corner of Main and Longwood. A tractor is tearing up the ashphalt and the property is fenced off. The site has been vacant for two years, is a high profile location and the building is routinely vandalized and tagged.
James North continues to hum along:
Elsewhere, new lofts are being built into the building at King and Jarvis that used to house the Greek Paradise restaurant. Either professional offices or another eatery is planned for the street level.
A new Caribbean restaurant has just opened on King at Wellington. It's called YaMan [read Jason's review]. The renovation that took place inside the building has turned out beautiful. Looks like a nice spot to relax with some good grub.
Something is happening to the old Pete and Marty's space next to Copps. I have no clue what, but construction equipment has arrived and the city has issued a 'one month' permit for them to occupy the curb lane of York St. during renovations. We'll let you know when we know.
James St. South continues its revitalization along the path of its Northern extension. Mike's World of Books appears ready to reopen on James South in the building that houses the Parker Pearce Gallery.
That's all for now.
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