Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Plus ça change - in the Beach(es)

Having now lived in the Beach(es) for over a decade, I've begun to take an informal inventory of what has changed - and what has not. I begin by considering the retailers and restaurants on Queen St.

The turnover is remarkably high. To some extent, this has been a good thing. Some retailers didn't deserve to stay in business. I remember 'Metro Kitchen' - in a location now used by The Source. Metro was full of little signs and reminders that the customer was a barely welcome guest - and devoid of customer service. The only staff was a surly, uninterested teenager 'manning' the cash. I'd surmised that he was the son of the absent proprietor - who had obviously lost interest in running the place.

On the other hand, there have been businesses that have closed despite excellent customer service. Studio 786 offered good quality men's and women's clothing at reasonable prices . Service was excellent. In the final analysis, the owner told me that there was too much competition, too little traffic and too high rent. There are other men's clothiers on Queen - but more at the high end. Well - now we have a Mark Work Warehouse down as Leslie and Lakeshore; no way on par with 786 on fashion - but at least we can buy underwear.

Then there are establishments that have been constants on the retail strip. If I had to list five businesses that have anchored the Queen St retail and dining experience, I'd include the following:

- The Beacher Cafe,
- Licks,
- The Running Room,
- Ends,
- Book City

Newcomers to which I accord honourable mentions include:

- Binz
- Sauvignon

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Two down - one to go

Some time back, after living in The Beach for a number years, I came to the conclusion that there were four elements to Beach life whose riddance would really improve the area.

One of these is the raccoon population. There is no way rid us of these gargantuan, clever, cheeky beasts. We can at best control them by trying to limit the supply of food.

We have now successfully dispensed with two local politicians. We sent long-self-serving city councillor Sandra Bussin packing last November. Bussin will be remembered for her sycophantic praise for David Miller, spending our money on bunny suits and self-promotion through the funding of sports teams, and phoning in in cognito to a local radio talk show to take potshots at John Tory.

This Monday, we parted ways with Liberal MP Maria Minna. Parting was no sweet sorrow - ir was no sorrow whatsoever. Minna will be remembered for forgetting where she lived and voting in the wrong ward. We now have an NDP MP. However, based on her mailings over the years, Minna was at the left end of the NDP on the socialist scale. Someone once wrote that Minna was as dumb as a flower pot. I didn't think that was fair to flowerpots.

Bussin and Minna were our Tweedledum and Tweedledee - as good an evidence as you can have that many people vote as automatons. Their dismissals prove the people sometimes wake up and pay attention.

The next thing we need to rid our wonderful neighbourhood of is in the photograph.