Diners in River Heights are getting to know their neighbours over small plates and cocktails in the area’s newest restaurant.
Close Company opened in February 2016 in the former location of Steve’s Hairstyling for Men at 256 Stafford St. Co-owned by Cam Chabot and Tammie Rocke, the restaurant is literally a small business with just 10 seats and space for four at the bar. Despite its small size, Chabot says Close Co. has been a big hit with customers.
"People come in and are shocked by the size of it and tend to come back shortly after their first visit and bring someone new because it is so unique," Chabot said.
Led by chef Frank McCann, Close Co. serves up share plates in the range of $10 to $15 that follow American-style cuisine but also pulls from other culinary influences. The menu is always changing and features rotating specials, Chabot said.
"Because we have low occupancy and a small number of tables, we can do a high quality, very unique kind of menu," he said.
During dinner service, Chabot says the atmosphere is intimate and people are happy to share the limited space to accommodate other diners. After the dinner service winds down, Close Co.’s relaxed setting and tight quarters help foster a "boisterous" night spot.
"You get to know your neighbours. You’ll be talking to people across the room, and quite often you’ll know someone in the room as well," Chabot said.
Chabot, who is a longtime resident of River Heights, jumped on the opportunity to open a new dining spot in his neighbourhood. Along with The Grove and Maque, Chabot said there was opportunity to join the growing dining scene along Stafford. When the owners saw the ‘For Rent’ sign appear in the window of Steve’s Hair Styling for Men, they didn’t hesitate to get a look inside.
"Spaces don’t open up on this corner very often, right?" Chabot said, adding that Hair Styling for Men had been a feature in the community for 60 years. "When we looked at it we thought it would make a really cool corner restaurant, a place where you can grab a beer and a snack."
This is the first restaurant venture for Chabot and Rocke, a dental supply sales rep and designer respectively, and they say the neighbourhood has embraced the concept in the few months Close Co. has been open.
"We’ve already proved to ourselves and the neighbourhood that if you build it they will come," he said.
According to Chabot, the idea for an intimate dining spot came from his travels abroad.
"I travel a lot for work and the places I like to frequent tend to be small, one-off, unique types of spots," he explained. "If you go to New York or Toronto there is usually something very unique happening in neighbourhoods… that tipped us off that we could do something like that here."
Close Co. is open nightly at 5 p.m. and Chabot says they are working towards opening for breakfast. For more information, search Close Company on Facebook or call 204-691-7788.