Heard on the Street Summer 2020
Green Bus Café, a new coffee roaster and café at 1057 Ouellette Avenue in Windsor, was ready to open its doors the day everything was locked down due to the COVID-19 crisis. Owners Cindy Cooper and Felix Winkelaar eventually opened up in mid-May and have been serving a steady clientele ever since. The couple, who are both school teachers, spent a couple of years teaching in northern Manitoba returning each summer to run a food truck out of a school bus, which they painted green. “We replaced all the seats with a commercial kitchen and were able to offer inside service because it was so spacious,” Cooper describes. Their truck also acted as a commissary for an independent movie being shot in Toronto a few years ago. “After working out of the bus for a few years, we decided what we really needed was a café,” explains Winkelaar. The café, which formerly housed a doctor’s office, offers freshly roasted organic fair trade coffees from Colombia, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Mexico and Honduras, as well as soups, bagels, breads and sandwiches “The menu is a work in progress because we have such a small space and we’ve only been open a short while,” adds Cooper. “It’s been a challenge because we didn’t expect the Ouellette Avenue doors to the hospital would be closed this long, but we’re still seeing steady growth with our customers.”
Three months after locking the doors because of COVID-19 restrictions, Diane Clark has re-opened Island Girl Fashions, which has been selling cruisewear and summer fashions for the past 22 years. “It was terrible and I have never seen anything like it in more than two decades of retailing,” says Clark. “We’ve had to close the doors because of flooding a few times, but never as long as this.” The popular Windsor shop, 5939 Wyandotte Street East, was re-opened May 27. “We’ve had very loyal customers for many years and they have stood by us throughout this crisis,” Clark comments. Unlike many other retailers, Clark opted not to try selling her fashions online because many require custom fittings and alterations. “All our clothing is made in Canada and we’re very proud of the fact we have never gone offshore for our fashions,” explains Clark. And even with travel severely curtailed, she still believes there’s a market for her clothing since it can all be worn throughout the summer for pool parties and outdoor gatherings. “It’s all universal and can be worn anywhere, so I’m very encouraged by the future,” she states. Donna Knapp handles most of the buying for the store and seamstress Charyline Zonjic takes care of the alterations.
Tom and Amanda Sotiriadis, former operators of The Manchester Pub in downtown Windsor, are planning to open Milos Greek Grill in Walkerville in August. Located at 1840 Wyandotte Street East (previous home to 1840 Social Resto + Bar and The Willistead) in Windsor the menu features authentic Greek cuisine in an upscale atmosphere. “It will definitely be old school with recipes from my mother who is 85,” shares Tom. “Modern plating, charcuterie boards etc. will be used to emphasize the food and we have hired Jerome Little as our Executive Chef who worked for large establishments in Toronto, but is originally from Windsor.” Despite the fact they are opening up in a risky COVID-19 climate, the couple has signed a long term lease on the building proving they are in it for the long haul. Many renovations have been undertaken, such as a 22 foot wooden rowing boat now hanging in the inside, and outside a beautiful mural has been painted on the wall, plus the patio includes barn board, wooden shutters and a retractable ceiling. Watch as well for a “cool” new system for the perfect patio temp and a wedding tent styled patio in the parking lot, so diners are comfortable no matter what Mother Nature has in store! Moving to Windsor 22 years ago from Toronto, Tom is well known for becoming successful running The Pita Pit. He and his wife are big community supporters who met in our city, were married soon after and on their honeymoon discovered their favourite Greek island — Milos! Understand the connection now?
The Dutch Restaurant at 2223 Division Road in Kingsville is the latest area business to fall victim to the COVID-19 crisis, which forced the closure of many businesses across Essex County for months. While some restaurants have re-opened serving customers by takeout or delivery, Gord Moore, owner of the popular casual eatery, decided to serve his final meals to customers on July 5. “It’s partly related to COVID-19 and partly personal, because I’ve had enough of the restaurant business,” reveals Moore, who opened his restaurant 14 years ago. “I have a 50-seat restaurant and if my capacity is cut to 25, I can’t make a living at it,” he explains. Moore also expected to absorb $5,000 to $10,000 in extra expenses to get his restaurant ready for inside dining when the town moves into another stage of re-opening. “I know a lot of people are disappointed that I’m closing, but it’s time to take care of myself,” he stresses. Moore has already landed another job and is all finished with the restaurant business. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s time to move on,” he adds.
John and Debbie Filippakis were forced to close Karen’s 4or Kids, a popular shoe store at 1647 Ottawa Street in Windsor, just four days after opening the business they had taken over from long-time owners Arnie and Jack Blaine. But now they are back in operation and business is beginning to pick up again. “It’s been a challenge in the same way as it has been for many small businesses through this COVID-19 crisis,” says Debbie, who once co-owned Etta’s Greeklish Eatery with her husband. “We were so used to the go-go-go pace of the restaurant business, so whenever we have a slow day here, we really notice it,” she points out. The Blaines closed the shoe store, which had been in the family for more than 70 years, in September 2019 with John and Debbie taking over January 1 of this year. They opened March 16, closed again four days later and then re-opened in mid-May after offering curbside pickup for a month. “We’ve been lucky to have great support from the community and we’re encouraged about the future.”