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

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