Heard on the Street - WEpodcast.ca

Heard on the Street – WEpodcast.ca Launches New Music Today

Photo: Corey Robertson on the set of New Music Today with Feast of Kings.

Heard on the Street – WEpodcast.ca Launches New Music Today

Musicians from Windsor and beyond now have a new venue for showcasing their talents to a wider audience with the recent launch of New Music Today, a podcast hosted by Corey Robertson. “Our goal is to share live performances from our studios to a wide audience covering all genres of music,” explains Robertson. “We’ve had blues, rock, Christian, classic rock and electronic dance music on our podcast to date and there’s really no limit to what we can show music fans.” Robertson, a 20 year veteran of local radio stations, launched the podcast in September 2017 as part of WEpodcast.ca. “We’ve found that in the past few months, musicians are coming to us and asking if they can be part of the show,” says Robertson. “Typically, they would send us their Spotify or YouTube videos and then we would invite them into our studios for either a live podcast or a show to be broadcast at a later date.” Among the artists and bands who have already appeared are: Twinns, an electronic dance music duo; blues artist Christine Campbell from Halifax; Ignore the Evidence and Feast of Kings, featuring Jody Raffoul and Kelly Authier. “I am super proud of what we have achieved so far because it’s about identifying new artists and hoping they resonate with our audience and so far, I believe they have,” adds Robertson. Viewing the podcast is free with revenue being generated from advertising within the show. “It’s an entirely new way of delivering music to fans and it’s very exciting,” expresses Robertson.

Growth and changes along Windsor’s Via Italia are being credited with an uptick in business along busy Erie Street, which is lined with restaurants and cafes. Filip Rocca, Owner of Mezzo Ristorante and Lounge and Chair of the Via Italia Business Improvement Association, says he’s expecting his best year of business since opening 16 years ago. Rocca points out that even when businesses close, none of the properties stay vacant for very long. Paciocco and Mellow, a law firm, has moved into 995 Erie Street East, Nico Ristorante is moving into a larger space at the corner of Howard Avenue and Erie, and Vern Mylischuk, owner of Bacchus Ristorante and Better Made Cabinets, is planning to open Verna-Q-Lar Cocktail Lounge in the 600 block of Erie Street East. “There seems to a great deal more traffic along the street, which is good for all our businesses,” adds Rocca. “Our BIA is also working hard to advertise what we have to offer and that helps all of us.” In mid-June, the BIA unveiled a new clock tower on the roundabout at Parent Avenue and Erie and the organization recently launched a redesigned website at: ViaItalia.com.

After spending three years managing Blanche Nightclub in downtown Windsor, Joe Merheje is stepping out on his own by opening TQLA, a Mexican-themed bar and restaurant at 481 Ouellette Avenue. “I’ve learned a lot about the bar and restaurant business at Blanche and I think it’s time to try something for myself,” Merheje explains. “It’s exciting and I think it will bring something different to downtown Windsor.” TQLA will feature specialty cocktails and upscale Mexican cuisine in a venue featuring unique artwork and a colourful design. This new business will feature entertainment on selected nights as well as theme nights and food specials throughout the week. Seating capacity will be 280 people. Merheje hopes to open in August and plans to be open in the evenings at first from Tuesday until Sunday. “I’m a social person by nature and I think I’m ready to run my own place,” adds Merheje. He plans to have 10 to 12 employees in the beginning and add more if business requires it. Blanche, meanwhile, will remain open at 487 Ouellette and Merheje will continue as Manager. He will also continue to manage Pushers Collective in the same location. Both are owned by Ahmed Hassan.

Lou Tortola, Chief Executive Officer of eliquidMEDIA, is constantly re-inventing himself and his company. After years of developing websites for major clients and corporations, Tortola branched out by inventing the Roundtail bike, which revolutionized bike design and won an award in an Italian design competition. There are about 500 of the bikes in customers’ hands around the world, but the economics of becoming a bike company never made sense, says Tortola. “It was all about selling the design and technology, but that never happened so I folded it up a few years ago.” Today, Tortola operates an e-commerce spinoff from eliquid, selling automotive parts on the Internet through PartsAuto.com. “Anybody can design a website these days, so we had to go back to our core competency, which is developing technology,” says Tortola who adds that business is going fairly well despite the fact that it’s early days yet. PartsAuto.com offers a wide range of parts for domestic and imported vehicles.

The Broken Egg, a new restaurant specializing in breakfast entrees, is close to opening in the former Gilligan’s restaurant at 12058 Tecumseh Road East in Tecumseh. Representatives of the Tecumseh Business Improvement Association were unable to provide any further details at press time and owners/operators of the new restaurant couldn’t be reached. The restaurant is currently undergoing extensive renovations.

Heard on the Street - Windsor Water Taxi

Heard on the Street – Windsor Water Taxi

Water taxis can be seen up and down the Chicago River connecting commuters, whether residents or visitors, to their destination. Will we see water taxis in Windsor soon? Plans are already in the works for a 2019 start up. Photo by Jack Rosenberg.

Heard on the Street – Windsor Water Taxi

John Sheridan, Owner/Operator of Windsor River Cruises, is planning to launch a water taxi service between LaSalle and Belle River next summer. The service would have stops in LaSalle, Sandwich, in front of Caesars Windsor, Coventry Gardens, Peche Island and Belle River. “I plan to start with one taxi and expand as business warrants it,” says Sheridan. “Many large cities on the water have water-taxi services and I don’t see why this area can’t support one as well.” Sheridan says the vessel he has in mind would accommodate 26 passengers and be powered by a pair of 90-horsepower outboard motors. “I plan to spend the next 12 months getting all my ducks in a row and be ready to go next summer,” he adds.

Rejean Gascon and Duane Chouinard are putting decades of hospitality industry experience to good use by opening up Eastwood’s Grill and Lounge at 63 Riverside Drive East in Windsor. The new spot, on the site of the former Whiskey River and Papa Cheney’s Whiskey Well, was expected to open in early June. Gascon informs Biz X the restaurant will feature North American-style cuisine — with a twist. “We’ll have beef ribs, burgers and our pizzas will feature charbroiled dough, which will give them an entirely different taste than most,” says Gascon. Over the years, Gascon previously worked at Casey’s, East Side Mario’s and Applebee’s in Windsor before moving to Calgary to oversee Applebee’s western locations. He returned to Windsor a few years ago to work at Buffalo Wild Wings at Devonshire Mall. Chouinard, who hired Gascon at Casey’s, worked at Jose’s Bar and Grill in Leamington and most recently at Smoke and Spice. “We have enough experience that I think we know what works,” says Gascon. He expects Eastwood’s will employ between 30 and 50 people depending upon business.

Discount retailer Giant Tiger will be opening a new store on October 13 in a space at Tecumseh Mall formerly occupied by Zellers. Cassandra Estrade, Community and Events Associate for the retailer, says the new store will be larger than the one at 4501 Tecumseh Road East, which will close as the new store opens. “We will have more selection in every department and we will be adding a fresh meat department to our grocery section,” says Estrade. The new store will be 19,900 sq. ft. in area and have an updated appearance. Tecumseh Mall General Manager Colleen Conlin says “we believe it’s something that is needed in the neighbourhood and Giant Tiger has a strong name in retail circles so we expect it will be a success.” The new store will face south along the frontage of the former Zellers. Conlin expects to announce another new tenant which will fill in the remaining Zellers space in the near future. Call centre HGS Canada and Sky Zone occupy the rest of the former department store. Conlin also says that a prospective tenant is close to signing a lease to occupy the former Sobeys store, And with Lowe’s Canada moving into the former RONA store, which closed in October 2013, just north of Tecumseh Road East at Lauzon Parkway, it will bring even more consumer traffic to the eastside shopping area.

Spee-Dee Auto Wash and Car Care Centre, a past Biz X magazine award winner, is for sale as the long-time owners of the family business seek to retire. “The game plan for the owners is to retire,” explains Mark Bloomfield, an agent with Royal Lepage Binder Real Estate. “I can’t disclose any names for confidentiality reasons, but the business has been around for decades and the owners feel it is time to step away.” The building, at 639 Langlois Avenue in Windsor, was rebuilt following a fire about 30 years ago, adds Bloomfield. He notes, “We’ve had some nibbles from both local and out-of-town investors who see it as an investment opportunity. The business employs between five and 10 people and is for sale for $750,000.”

A new café and bake shop will be opening in the near future in the street level of the former Amherstburg Echo building at 238 Dalhousie Street. Caffeine and Company will feature specialty coffees and baked goods in a space formerly occupied by the newspaper’s general offices. Kirsten Kurzuk, Co-owner of the Echo building with husband Mark, says the café operators “have fantastic plans and it will be a great addition to the street.” Kurzuk adds that the building is extremely sound structurally and it would have been a shame to see it torn down. After the Echo closed six years ago, there were plans to replace it with condominiums, but when that plan fell through, the Kurzuks acquired the building, which resulted in Riccardo Maltese moving his popular Riccardo’s Italian Restaurant back into the building. Maltese had moved elsewhere in the town, but jumped at the chance to return to a waterfront location. “We’re taking great pleasure in seeing the building survive because it’s beautiful and we’re very happy to see another tenant join us,” adds Kurzuk.

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Heard on the Street – HMCS Hunter Building For Sale

Heard on the Street – HMCS Hunter Building For Sale

A large vacant building on Windsor’s main thoroughfare which, until two years ago, was home base for reservists with HMCS Hunter, is now for sale for $2.25 million. A spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Canada says the building was first offered to other government departments, but there was little interest and it has now been listed publicly for sale for about two months by CBRE Limited. The building at 960 Ouellette Avenue encompasses more than 51,000 sq. ft. and includes a large gymnasium, two drive-in doors, office space, a full basement and a fenced parking lot. The former grocery store was commissioned by the Department of National Defence in 1941 as a training centre during the Second World War. It has been vacant, and largely in disrepair, since the opening of a new HMCS Hunter training centre two years ago at 90 Mill Street on the city’s west side. The new centre, built as part of the Conservative government’s Economic Action Plan, supports Windsor’s naval reservists in a naval-themed building near the Detroit River.

Citing extra duties with the recent opening of Nola’s, a Cajun and Creole restaurant in Walkerville, Chris Mickle has called a halt to the popular Fork & Cork festival in July, which ran for the past six years at Windsor’s Riverfront Plaza. Mickle also operates Protenders Special Events and Catering as well as the Dominion House Tavern in Sandwich. “There just isn’t time to do it all,” says Mickle. “It takes most of the year to pull together because you have to arrange for equipment, book entertainment and reach agreements with restaurants and beverage companies as well as many other details.” Mickle adds that it was a popular festival and it’s going out on a high note. And while his busy workload precludes running the festival this year he said “anything’s possible” when asked if it might return in the future. The festival showcased local restaurants, wineries, distilleries and craft beer producers while at the same time offering up national and local entertainment along the riverfront.

Operators of The Toy Box Early Childhood Education Centre will be able to add 200 more child-care spaces when its new building opens at 3966 Walker Road by mid-summer. Owner Anna Raymond expects the new centre will be open by July 1 once all the final construction and interior work is completed. Raymond says she intends to keep the Toy Box’s existing centres at 2550 McDougall Street and 2665 Howard Avenue open as well. The two freestanding locations have about 400 part-time and full-time spaces. The Toy Box also operates four latch-key programs at schools across the Windsor area. “Business has been going very well since we opened in 2002,” adds Raymond. “We’ve had quite a bit of response to our new centre since the billboard went up, but so far it has been more of a soft reveal. We expect more people will contact us once we have something tangible to show them.” Raymond, who currently has about 75 full and part-time employees, expects to add another 35 or so once the 19,000 sq. ft. centre is open.

The value of building permits issued by the City of Windsor during the first quarter of this year has dropped by more than $27 million, largely due to a major reduction in residential construction. The value of permits issued through the end of March hit $59,162,499 compared to $87,320,623 a year ago. Residential construction permits fell from $52 million to $31.6 million and government and institutional permit values dropped from $23 million to $9.4 million. Industrial construction increased from $2.2 million to $8.1 million and commercial permits showed a slight increase from $9.8 million to $9.9 million. Major construction projects include a Bellwood Poultry processing plant at 1518 Mercer Street for $7.2 million; a new library branch at 363 Mill Street for $4.39 million; renovations to a duty free store at 31 Park Street for $2 million; renovations to a Shoppers Drug Mart at 3060 Howard Avenue for $2 million and a new aircraft hangar at 3200 County Road 42 for $1.9 million.

After spending most of their service industry life as night owls, Mike and Alex Lambros have decided to become morning people and will open up Central Diner on the site of the former Ocean’s Restaurant at 2883 Howard Avenue. “I’m 56 and Alex is a little older and we’re both tired of working 14 hours a day until well after midnight,” says Mike. “Now, we’ll be open 12 hours a day, maybe work six each and be done.” The diner will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Lambros brothers had operated Lefty’s Bar and Grill and then Lefty’s On The O in downtown Windsor for 12 years before selling the business to Jim Arbour, their former Manager and Bartender, last October. Central Diner will feature old-style diner food such as hot beef, hot chicken, hot turkey and hot hamburger sandwiches as well as clubhouse sandwiches and hand-packed burgers. It’s expected to seat 50 with a staff of six when it opens perhaps by mid-June or early July.

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Heard on The Street April 2018

Heard on The Street April 2018

More than three thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses are coming to Windsor June 15 to 17 when the organization stages a regional convention at the WFCU Centre. Based on the theme Be Courageous, the convention is expected to attract attendees from 37 congregations spread between London, Goderich and Windsor. The convention will feature more than 50 instructive presentations, live interviews, multimedia presentations and a feature film entitled The Story of Jonah – A Lesson in Courage and Mercy. It is one of 52 similar conventions taking place across Canada from May through August. Programs will be presented in 16 languages. It’s expected that as many as 10 hotels will be utilized by visitors.

Vendor applications are still being accepted for this year’s Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market which will run from May 26 until October 6 on Pelissier Street between Wyandotte Street East and Maiden Lane. The market, which is funded by the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association to the tune of about $30,000, is produced by the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative. “It’s a great event and has helped revitalize downtown and fill some empty storefronts,” says DWBIA Executive Director Debi Croucher. “Providing access to fresh produce as well as giftware, crafts and works of art has been very well received by people throughout the downtown and beyond.” Among the vendors who have already signed on for the summer are: Alora Flora, Benotto Co., Blaks Bakery, Bloks Hands of Healing, Bouchard Farms, Café March 21, Cat’s Paw Pottery, Cedar Valley Selections, Chance Coffee, Country Fresh Packers, Country Rose Preservers, Crafty Mama’s, Creekside Market, Dances in Garden, Dockside Fisheries, Dutch House Bakery, Dyan’s Garlic Sauce, Earth Eatery, Fairy Lilly Creations, Gourds for Birds, Joseph Byrne Produce, Le Papetier Vert, Lica Ruby, Little Foot Foods, entertainer Mathew Romain, Muscedere Winery, Our Farm Organics, artist Owen Swain, Simon Steeps, Spoontastic Treats, Steeped Tea by Donna Root, Sunrise Bakery, Sweetbay Foods, The Cheese Bar, Rashmi Dadwal Art and Prepared Foods, RASOI Cuisine, Raymont Berries, Riverside Pie Café, The Crazy Recyclers, The Fruit Wagon, Henna Boutique, The Holistic Guy, Mushroom Hub, Tir Apple Farm and Zone 6 Gardeners. For more information visit: DWFM.ca.

Fortis Group, a Windsor based developer, is close to completing a pair of major construction projects. The Toy Box Early Childhood Education Centre at 3966 Walker Road is expected to open this year and a new Scotiabank branch at 7201 Tecumseh Road East is also expected to open within a few months.

A $25 million project along Division Road, adjacent to Devonshire Mall, is less than six months away from welcoming its first customers. Rocco Tullio of Rock Developments says construction should be completed by June with stores ready to open by late August. The new stores in phase one of the development will include Ashley’s and Dollarama as well as restaurants such as Five Guys Burgers, Blaze Pizza, Freshii and Quedoba as well as a pet store. It’s expected that phase two will eventually include a steakhouse and some big box retailers, says Tullio. “It’s a high traffic area given all that’s going on at Devonshire Mall and it should help generate more traffic for all the retail outlets,” adds Tullio.

Heard on The Street April 2018 continues here.

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Heard on the Street – Enzo’s, Chimczuk, Instacart

Heard on the Street March 2018- Enzo’s, Chimczuk, Instacart

Despite the fact that Enzo’s Trattoria has been listed for sale for the past three months or so, owner Enzo Mancuso says he has no plans to close the doors. “Everything’s for sale, right?” says Mancuso with a smile. “I’ve been in the business for 20 years now and when an agent approached me and said it might be time to test the market, I told him to go ahead.” Since then, Mancuso has had a few inquiries but nothing serious and as a result, it remains business as usual. Mancuso opened Tutto Ristorante in 1998 and then added Mancuso’s Trattoria and ran both for a few years. He closed Tutto in 2011, then closed Mancuso’s and opened Enzo’s at 1063 Erie Street East seven years ago, “I own the building so there’s no mortgage and business remains good,” he remarks. He cut back on the hours of business eight months ago, eliminating lunch and opening for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Count Neelam Sharma as another business owner who wishes downtown Windsor was more lively and busy with shoppers. Sharma, Owner of Little India, a gift store and beauty and day spa at 411 Pelissier Street, has been in business for almost two years and sees her street as “being full of potential but sleeping at the moment.” Sharma comments that sometimes she feels sad about what is happening downtown but has never thought of moving. “I have clients who live in downtown apartment buildings so I’m convenient but I wish there was more to attract more people downtown.” Sharma sells hand-crafted items and gifts from India and also offers traditional Indian head massages, hot stone treatments and other natural healing treatments. Sharma received her training in India and Toronto and attracts clients from as far away as London as well as across Essex County. “I would love to expand and offer more gift items to help bring people in but it’s hard to invest right now,” she adds.

Baseball fans have less than three weeks to check out a fascinating exhibit at downtown Windsor’s Chimczuk Museum which celebrates the first African-Canadian team to win an Ontario Amateur Baseball Association championship. Wilfrid Boomer” Harding and the Chatham Coloured All-Stars captured the Intermediate B title in 1934. The exhibit, a partnership between the Harding family, the University of Windsor history department, the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame and the Leddy Library’s Centre for Digital Scholarship runs through March 31. “It’s taken an incredible amount of research but it’s been truly a labour of love,” says Heidi Jacobs, Co-director of the Digital Scholarship Centre. “We thought it would take a summer and here we are three years later still working on it.” The exhibit features banners, photos of the players including Harding and his fellow co-star Earl Flat” Chase. There’s also a four-panel cartoon telling the inside story by graphic novelist Scott Chantler and a set of baseball cards featuring photos, player biographies and statistics culled from newspaper reports and family memories. Jacobs adds that a book about the team is also in the production stages. For more information on the team and exhibit, visit: Cdigs.Uwindsor.ca/BreakingColourBarrier.

Instacart, the fast-growing retail delivery service, together with Loblaw Companies Limited, has expanded into the Windsor area as of mid February. Customers can order from their favourite local retailers like Zehrs and Real Canadian Superstore and have their groceries and everyday essentials delivered straight to their doorsteps in as little as one hour. Service areas include: Windsor, Riverside, Walkerville, Tecumseh, Forest Glade and LaSalle. As well, Instacart is also bringing income earning opportunities to the area with plans to on-board more than 100 new shoppers. How does it work you ask? Customers go online or open the Instacart mobile app on their iPhone or Android device, select their city/store, add items to a virtual cart, then choose a delivery window (within one hour, within two hours, or up to five days in advance) and check out. An Instacart shopper accepts the order on his/her smartphone, uses the Instacart shopper app to guide them through shopping, and then delivers the order to the customer in the designated delivery timeframe. For orders of $35 or more, the delivery fee is just $3.99. Many customers also take the opportunity to save big over time by signing up for an Instacart Express membership, which enables unlimited, free same-day delivery on orders of $35 or more. After a free trial period, Instacart Express membership is just $9.99 a month or $99 a year. First time users can also enter the code HIWINDSOR (4/20/18 expiration) at checkout to get $20 off an order of $35 or more, plus a free first time delivery.

A local food-inspired business is launching a new festival this summer to recognize Windsor’s long-established reputation as a producer of fine Canadian whisky. WindsorEats.com will stage the first Whiskytown Festival August 4, 2018 on the grounds of the historic St. Mary’s Church in Walkerville. “We have a long history here so why not celebrate it?” asks Pina Ciotoli who runs WindsorEats along with brother Adriano. “It’s a celebration of all things whisky.” Ciotoli informs Biz X there will be samples of various whisky, whisky cocktails and a variety of foods will be available also. Windsor has long been the home of Canadian Club and Hiram Walker essentially built the neighborhood which bears his family’s name. Built in 1858 and since expanded, the distillery on Riverside Drive is the largest in North America and produces award-winning whisky recognized around the world. For more information, visit Whiskytown Canada on Facebook or email: [email protected]