One of the most sought-after retail locations in town has a new tenant.
The owners of The Grove, a nearly three-year-old Crescentwood gastropub, have signed on to open a new concept in the former home of Papa George's restaurant in the heart of Osborne Village.
"It won't be The Grove II," said Miles Gould, who owns the two establishments along with his wife, Danielle.
"But the opportunity here is fantastic. The location is amazing. It's the start of Osborne Village."
"Or the end," Danielle chimed in. "Depending where you start."
A name has been decided upon but the Goulds aren't ready to release it yet and they're waiting for some regulatory approvals before announcing their concept.
It won't stray too far from what the Grove does, though. Expect made-from-scratch food, a wide selection of craft beers and an environment that fits the neighbourhood like a glove.
"We just want to do something that will have some staying power by being simple, a place where everybody will know your name," Danielle Gould said.
The 3,000-square-foot space, which has been completely gutted, has been vacant since Papa George's 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 he 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."
The plan is to spend about $750,000 in renovating both the interior and exterior of the building with the hope of serving the first pint of beer on Oct. 1.
"There's a lot of work to be done," Miles Gould said. While surveying the main floor, it was impossible not to notice the steady stream of rainwater dripping away in one of the back corners.
"That's where we'll put a fountain feature," he quipped.
Having a local operator agree to move in was welcome news to Stephanie Meilleur, executive director of the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone.
"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 multinationals such as Tim Hortons or McDonalds were kicking the foundation 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," said Meilleur.
The Goulds are making a habit of moving into spaces occupied by iconic operators. When they christened their first location at the corner of Grosvenor Avenue and Stafford Street, it replaced Tubby's Pizza, an area mainstay for 45 years. (It was also the place where the pair had their first date.)
But don't expect whatever the new pub is called to duplicate the 4 a.m. closing time of Papa George's.
"We have two kids," Danielle Gould said. "We do want to sleep at some point."