One of the most sought-after restaurant locations in town has a new tenant.
The Grove, a nearly three-year-old River Heights pub, has signed on to open its second location in the former home of Papa George’s restaurant in the heart of Osborne Village.
The 3,000-square-foot space, which has been completely gutted, has been vacant since the popular late-night eatery closed after 35 years last October.
The Grove’s deal ends a months-long saga to fill the neighbourhood anchor for Graeme Rowswell, head of G. T. Rowswell Realty Leasing Co. He spent six months negotiating with a "very large" national company but said they ended up being too demanding. It was similar with a second group that approached him and wanted him to redevelop the building.
"We’ve had five offers on it, everything from banks to grocery stores to dental offices to retail operators," he said.
"Good, wholesome people was what we were looking for. We looked for covenant – financial responsibility, reputation and putting your own money into it. We have picked people who we feel are able to do the job and have a reputation that is the kind we would want to work with."
Having a local operator agree to move in was welcome news to Stephanie Meilleur, executive director of the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone (BIZ).
"We’re really happy to see not only a restaurant but a local restaurant go into the empty building. It will definitely brighten up the street and bring the restaurant crowd back to that location," she said.
Rumours that multinationals such as Tim Hortons or McDonalds were kicking the metaphorical tires during the search were not particularly well-received.
"Osborne Village represents local operators who have been striving (to succeed) in this area for years. Having large chains come in would change the whole atmosphere of the street," she said.
The Grove is making a habit of moving into spaces occupied by iconic operators. When it christened its first location at the corner of Grosvenor Avenue and Stafford Street, it replaced Tubby’s Pizza, an area mainstay for 45 years.