So after launching concepts in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg why did you invest your business here?
This is a locals area, and that fit well with our brand. Between Gastown and the Hockey ring was a great location, it’s an up and coming area, there’s lots of opportunity in this area. We felt we could be a catalyst for driving some of those positive changes.
Tell us more about the Brand? What encapsulates the brand?
A local feel. We have archived items of local sports heroes and other specific things. We’re also welcoming to pretty much everyone. From suits to backpackers, we run from early to late and that represents a full on experience all day not just a lunch place or dinner spot.
Have you noticed a trend in the clientele?
We’re getting the crowd that we want, but really we’re open to everybody, clientele is influenced somewhat by local events, but depending on the time of day the clientele, the demographic shifts.
Plans for any other locations?
We’re considering expanding, but can’t say too much! We’ve been challenged to find a second opportunity (in Vancouver) due to a couple of factors. I feel that if you can do a project in Vancouver you can do it anywhere in the world. It’s a long process where I think the city really weeds out a lot of people that aren’t going to operate a top notch place. Plus liquor laws, the HST and other factors. That being said, transit and proximity to neighbourhoods obviously gives us a lot of businesses. The city knows that we’re here to run a quality place, and we’ve been offered a couple of plays here in town that we’re considering. We’re also looking at other locations across Canada, but we knew we wanted to get into Vancouver early, despite the costs being so much higher than many other Canadian city. If we could have consistency when dealing with government it would make it easier to plan and execute. In some cities they’d roll out the red carpet for us, but Vancouver makes you work for it, that’s for sure.
What about this location (Pender and Abbott)
This corner has become a 24 hour environment, schools like SFU and VCC and the mall across the street, we’re open all day and late at night. I think we’re also seeing more families and local people taking ownership of this as a community. We’ve become that local spot for a lot of them.
What’s the most difficult part of running a business here?
We’re not in the heartland of operating in the entertainment district, which is a challenge, but also a huge opportunity because not everyone wants the hustle and bustle of Granville, which is once again a more local thing than tourist. We are becoming a destination spot but it’s taking time to build that awareness. Plus the Canucks didn’t do too well last year.
It took months to get streetlights in, and the alley next to us still has some problems. There are people coming up asking for money from our patrons but people are used to it here, they live in Vancouver and it’s a part of this city.
My business partners thought I was nuts for wanting to choose this location, about a month before we opened one of those partners said flat out he thought we made a bad decision, but I think we’re on track to be a success in this area and a few things need to be rectified but those partners who raised concerns have said now “you were right” and we need to give a big shout-out to our staff, bringing Chad from Edmonton and building those relationships.
So what are some of the differences between say Edmonton and Vancouver?
People love dancing in this City! We have two Edmonton locations and some other concepts but here we have issues with the dancefloor being too large making it difficult to serve tables.
People really take advantage of our island bars too. If you don’t know anybody you can sit there and feel apart of a community here. Difference in clientele, sure a little more defined subcultures that you don’t get in Edmonton or some other citites, but really those different subsets all kind of blend together and it’s a real mishmash of types. Consumer patterns are a little diferent here. People here just don’t drink as much, but food sales are higher. People don’t seem to go out as long or as late as in some other markets for us but you do get a mishmash of people outside and that’s part of the mystique of the area.
Have you been marketing to the offices nearby?
We just started doing that, we’re working to improve our Lunch and we have solid promotional items, we could classify three sort of marketing areas or groups and those are sports, local and corporate. We have a locals night where local businesses are going to pool their promotional items in a pot and over the night we’ll draw for those prizes, for corporate we of course get in touch with the technology firms.
We’ve done stuff with Cineplex Odeon, we got all our staff to dress up in like Comicon Costumes, Sunday Funday is a great event where we have a lot of fun with actual games, jenga, connect 4 and stuff like that, and we have a really creative team.