A pair of well-worn neighbourhood pubs in the Olde Walkerville district, Kilroy’z Bar N’ Grill, 1848 Shepherd Avenue East, and Gladstone Grill and Draft House, 792 Gladstone Avenue, have changed hands with the promise to revitalize the businesses with some youthful vigour.
Kilroy’z, at the corner of Kildare Road, was purchased for $100,000 by husband-wife team Darcy Lauria and Katie McArthur, who immediately threw a pre-renovation party dubbed “Say Goodbye to the Dive.” Five months later, thanks to $60,000 in renovations and oodles of do-it-yourself elbow grease, Orwell Public House was set to open, hopefully in July. “George Orwell is the prophet of the time,” says Darcy on the choice of a new name. The 30-something owners are graduates of Walkerville Collegiate and hope to build up the name of the area by etching a big W on one of the walls. “We’re going to sell local craft beer,” says Lauria, noting there will be 21 different beers on tap. Bar food, live music and Sunday board games in the pool room will also be available. Lauria came home after working oil drilling rigs in Alberta and Texas for several years. He and McArthur were able to capitalize on a great price to purchase Kilroy’z, which had suffered customer declines from the closure and gutting of the General Motors Transmission Plant down the road. He says the previous owner bought the bar 13 years ago for $430,000. Another possible shot in the arm is a strong rumour that the huge GM parking lot across the street from the tavern will be converted into housing.
The sale of the Gladstone Grill, formerly Back Street, closed on June 30. “Jim Lott is retiring after five bars and 40 years in the business,” says Lott’s Royal LePage Binder Realtor Joan Charette. The purchaser, working through LePage agent Dan Zajac, is another Walkerville graduate, 37 year old John Bradt. “I was working with Dan to buy a multi-unit rental property to add to my portfolio, when I came across it on MLS.” A lover of Walkerville who lives in the area, Bradt was “inspired” by the low price and the potential of the building. So inspired that he decided to quit his nursing job and run the place himself. Bradt has worked as a Chef and Kitchen Manager in Toronto and Windsor and is planning to introduce Mexican street food and tequila-based cocktails as staples in the tavern he intends to rename. He is shutting it down for a few months to undergo a major renovation inside, as well as to apply Mexican street art on the exterior. His brother Jeff has moved back to Windsor from Mexico to assist. The upstairs of the tavern has 10 fully occupied subsidized rental units and there is a property next door, which he calls “a bonus,” to be used for parking.