28 King Street North
Chainsaw (Former Silver Spur)
Rumoured Redevelopment in 2012
'Spur' next to vanish from uptown scene
Owner sells to developer as Waterloo streetscape continues to evolve
Chuck Howitt, RECORD STAFF - WATERLOO
April 22, 2009
Denise Arnold gazed around the spacious bar she has called home for the past 12 years.
"I am kind of sad," the manager of the Silver Spur nightclub said. "I don't think it's really clicked in yet."
"The Spur," as it was affectionately called by regular patrons, had one of the best patios in town, overlooking King Street in the heart of Waterloo. There was no better place on a warm day or night, some said, to sip a beer and watch the passing throngs.
But the Spur is soon to be no more.
The cavernous watering hole at the corner of King and Dupont streets, originally built as a Mother's Pizza restaurant, is closing May 3. Owner Tom Ferguson has sold the property to local developer Jeff Zavitz in a deal that closes next month.
Ferguson had the option of leasing the building and continuing to operate the bar for a while yet but preferred to make a "clean break" from it, Zavitz said in an interview.
The closure of the Silver Spur is one of several changes taking place in the block bounded by King, Erb, Regina and Dupont streets.
The Waterloo Hotel is under new ownership, which has prompted the departure of a number of tenants, and the Eldon Gallery is closing at the end of the month after 27 years in business.
For Zavitz, the acquisition of the Silver Spur property makes a great deal of sense. He already owns the Waterloo Entertainment Centre, a renovated movie theatre next door which has poor access and only 7,000 square feet of space, he said.
Although he has no specific plans yet for the Spur property, the purchase "gives me more options for the potential redevelopment or expansion of the site," Zavitz said.
He has been renting out the entertainment centre to various groups and has three events coming up in the next few weeks.
He and Ferguson had been discussing a possible sale for the past year and a half, Zavitz said.
"I have considered bidding on it from the day I acquired the Waterloo Theatre back in 2005."
Zavitz has redeveloped a number of other buildings in the core, including the Princess Twin Cinema, the Regina Street Commons where Generation X Video is located, and The Starlight nightclub.
For his part, Ferguson said Zavitz "made me an offer I couldn't refuse."
Ferguson purchased the Silver Spur property about 13 years ago, and still owns TJ's Country Roadhouse in Kitchener. His father, Tom Ferguson Sr., has owned a number of bars in Kitchener, including Tommy's Place and the East End Tavern.
Down the street at the Waterloo Hotel, new owner Nick Georghiades, who purchased the 14-room historic property in January, said he wants "to see a year's worth of revenue and costs" before deciding what to do with the property.
So far he has been pleased with the results. Eighty per cent of the hotel's customers are corporate, he said, "and they're very loyal."
The next step is to begin a more extensive advertising campaign, he said.
"Most people don't know it's here."
Georghiades's arrival in January was followed by the departure of a number of commercial tenants in the hotel, including Silver Spoon Fine Chocolates and Erban Corner. Earlier this month, Hannah's Bella Bistro and Hannah's Tapas Bar closed.
In all cases, Georghiades said they were not paying market rents. "I would like everyone to stay, but I want them to treat this as a business, not a charity."
Hannah Pahuta, owner of the two Hannah's restaurants, said the rent increases plus hikes in "common fees" at the hotel were among the reasons why she closed the businesses.
The profit margins for a restaurant are "minimal," she said.
With a young child at home, she has no plans to reopen elsewhere, she said.
The Waterloo Hotel property still houses three other tenants, the Masala Bay restaurant, the Symposium Cafe and the Waterloo Music Company.
Meanwhile, at the Eldon Gallery, located beside the Waterloo Entertainment Centre, owner Brent Hodgson said business has been slow in recent years and has only gotten worse with the economic downturn.
"It's been a long gradual slide. No one gives a buck about art," said Hodgson, who has owned the gallery for the past nine years.
Honkey tonk brews
Chainsaw brings the beer hall to King Street with a southern twang
By Melinda Dalton, Chronicle Staff - Business
Aug 19, 2009
Chainsaw owner Ryan Good left, and manager Paul Boudreau stand on the bar’s renovated patio. The popular nightspot re-opened this week under new ownership with a southern country theme, a new menu and cold beer on tap.
With a street-side patio, cold beer and time-honoured tunes, it has long been a hot spot for uptown bar goers.
Now the re-named an re-born Chainsaw is ready to welcome back those legions of loyal patrons.
The bar formerly known as the Sliver Spur shut its doors earlier this summer and its taps have been dry ever since.
That was until Tuesday when the revamped “southern beer hall” opened its doors back up under the new ownership of Waterloo businessman, Ryan Good.
“I wanted to leverage a southern, country, small-town beer hall look,” said Good. “Sort of that old-style of doing things. I wanted to make sure it fit with that trend of – you walk into the old country bar and the jukebox is playing and everyone is wearing jeans and there’s a neon Budweiser sign above the bar.”
On the surface, it may not sound like much of a departure from the old Spur. But Good has shaken up the business in the short time he had to turn the project around.
Gone are the old, fast food style tables on the patio and the well-worn, simple railing. In their place are brand new picnic benches and a sleek-looking enclosure.
With only a short time frame to work with Good had to rein in his improvements. He decided to keep the same atmosphere, but implement some much-needed updates like new draft lines and improvements to the kitchen.
“We opened it up and cleaned it up,” he said.
“But, we kept a lot of the look and feel. For example, people have notched stuff out of the wood, and that’s part of it — part of the character. The wood has this patina from all of the grease and the dirt, but that’s part of the character of the rough-cut pine.”
The project is a first for Good, who may be new to the bar game, but is already a veteran in the business world.
He worked as a chef for 10 years before, during and after the time he spent working on an environmental studies degree at the University of Waterloo. Life in the kitchen wasn’t the future he saw for himself, so Good diversified into other businesses. He managed a mechanical company, ran a business selling medical equipment and eventually got into the real estate marketing game.
Good and two other partners bought the local PropertyGuys.com franchise almost three years ago. The business helps owners sell their home privately.
“It’s running itself now,” Good said. “It’s successful and we’re happy with it. I was looking for another project to start and this presented itself, so I took it on.”
Part of what appealed to him about the Chainsaw project was its timeline. The property owner is planning on redeveloping the site in a few years. That short duration fit in with Good’s business style and he decided to take the bar on and have it up and running by back to school time.
“This is perfect for me,” he said. “I don’t want to be a bar owner for a long time. I have two kids and it will take its toll, I’m sure.”
In addition to the physical changes to the bar, Good has made some alterations to the way they’ll do business. He has re-jigged the menu, opting out of the usual “freezer to fryer” bar food in favor of a limited selection of hyper-fresh items.
They’ll have one large-portioned meal available for the day and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
“It’s going to be cheap and very good,” he said.
“The margins on all the stuff we do are low and the way we’re going to make money is volume. Especially at this time with the economy, it’s the perfect time because everyone is looking for good value in their food and their drink.”
The entertainment at Chainsaw will also change. While the karaoke that was a fixture at the Spur will still be around, Good has pulled it back to three nights a week to make room for live country acts.
To further add to the atmosphere, the bar will be serving beer at a cheap price out of mason jars, he said.
While the area isn’t starved for country bars, two popular ones already exist in Kitchener, Good said he doesn’t see them as competition.
“If anything, they’re good for me because they have created awareness around country,” he said. “We’re all building the brand of country. Students have become very enamored by country and now they don’t have to spend $15 on a cab to get down there.”
Good is banking on those student dollars and the former popularity of the Spur to make Chainsaw a success. While he welcomes the business, he said he also acknowledges problems that arose at the property in its former life.
“We’re going to run it as a very tight ship,” he said.
“I plan on having one of the best security teams in the town and we’re going to make sure this is a safe and fun place to be.
“We’re going to be highly respectful of our neighbours. I live in the uptown core. I’ve been woken up many times days in a row and I know what that’s like.”
The bar held its first “soft opening” on Tuesday and plans on ramping up the entertainment listings as the start of the school year draws closer.
Longtime patrons of the Spur are eager to make their way back and Good is anxious to get the ball rolling on his first foray into the world of bar ownership.
He may not have much experience in the role, but given the goodwill surrounding the bar, the location and the changes he’s has implemented, Chainsaw’s owner said he’s confident the business will be a success.
“My philosophy on business is you can do any business, it doesn’t matter what your skill level is, as long as you get the right people in the right positions,” he said.
“That’s something I’m good at. I may not have run a bar before, but I know how to get the right team together and a business is only as good as its team.
“That’s why I’ve got a lot of confidence in this. People say, ‘Are you crazy? You’ve never run a bar before, let alone something like this.’
“But I’ve got a great management team, I’ve got great security. I’ve got everyone in place.”
Chatting with some of the employees the rumour is this will be a 25-storey redevelopment; however until we get some more sources I'm going leave the height/floors as a question mark. Chainsaw is simply a temporary fill until this happens hence the "Until 2012ish" in their logo.
This is a very prime piece of land in uptown Waterloo, I really hope if it is redeveloped that alot of time and energy is put into planning the development. 25-storeys would be an excellent first start, you would also think the developer/owner would be keeping the renovated cinema next door in the plans.
Great news! And didn't notice the 2012ish in the logo, but thats hillarious!
I always thought this was a when, not if, situation for chainsaw being developed.
You think so? I think it's gone
It'll be really interesting to see the future of this block, between this, and the property next door with the Waterloo Hotel. They were talking about potential redevelopment there weren't they? (obviously including the hotel in it)
It's going to be a footrace to see who can get their development off the grand first. I don't think Waterloo had the demand right now for 2x 25 story towers, 144 park and the barrel yards. I would doubt if this is developed to 25 stories anytime soon (but fingers crossed that it is). I echo leaffans concerns that this had better be a well thought out development, it's right in the heart of uptown. I'd hate to see a private apartment/condo tower go up with nothing at street level. I doubt any developer would be so short-sighted to do such a thing though.
They would be smart to do something like 247 King North. Have retail and office in the podium. Then more office in the first floors of the tower, then residential. That'd make it successful.
I don't think the City will allow for a 25-storey building there. Pretty sure there's established guidelines that make it impossible for that location.
Last edited by WatDot; 02-01-2010 at 12:27 PM.
I hear what your saying, however I'm of the mind demand can be grown: through conversations on the benefits of living in an urban condo (although I realize it won't work for everyone), Wonderful Waterloo will hopefully help to grow the market, and our Meets/Parties will help to inspire people. I know until I started pushing urban living on my parents they were happy being in a triple-car garage house in the outer suburbs while driving their F150 or Land Rover everywhere. My mom hasn't taken local public transit in 30 years, but I've convinced her to try the Bike 'n' Bus on the iXpress this summer. She had her family up at the Bauer Lofts yesterday & now her cousin wants to buy a unit too. A few years back I brought a friend through the Kaufman Lofts sales office and he ended up buying one, etc.. Yes, each sale on their own is insignificant, but eventually they will collectively all add up, especially if there are 70 other members (and growing) doing the same type of urban promotion in the region.
Yes, but that restriction is only for the actual building (where a new podium would go in my mind). The parking lot isn't included.
"These height limits shall apply to all buildings or portions of buildings within 30 metres of King Street."
Last edited by UrbanWaterloo; 02-01-2010 at 09:46 PM.
I don't see this happening. There is a 4 storey limit on development between William and either Bridgeport or pehaps even Spring streets. This property is smack dab in the middle of that zone.
Besides I don't feel 25 storeys fits here really. Something modern but height limited would fit much better I say.
From my post earlier, I was assuming the theater would be kept since it was recently redeveloped but that doesn't mean it's a lock to stay. Id like to see more height here, but Id prefer something that was mix use, great urban design and medium density to a very tall building that resembled anything like this beast.
Ya but can you build that much demand. I'd like to think so, but in the next few years, I'm not sure. Significant population growth is the way it will happen.
I think myfaceisonfire is getting at, if you think about how many units would be on the market considering 144, Barrel Yards and TWO 25 floor residential towers, that'd be insane. I'd love to see it, but by 2012, it's quite the lofty and maybe unrealistic expectation.
So how would they do 25 floors on this lot. Im having a hard time picturing it. Would it be at the Regina st end of the lot and set back at the King st end?
I think part of the reason it doesn't fit there (right now at least) is that near by, other than the Marsland Centre, there's nothing that height within a number of blocks. If there were a number of 10-15 floor buildings then a 25 floor structure would fit in more.
I think something around 15 would be no problem here. Along King I'd like to see more height than something like the42 (nothing against that project)
You got it Leaffan! Mixed use is the key here. The theatre probably could be incorporated into it, but is it worth it? It wasn't the current owner that renovated it, so I'm not sure if thats important to him. I'm not sure how/if it fits though. It might, but would they prefer retail tennants?
I agree around 7-14 stories and would like to see the theatre kept. I think a theatre in the uptown is needed, and actually one that plays 3D movies and new releases would be nice. With all the people soon to move in the area it will be needed.
Also I am skeptical on if there will be demand for this like has been previously stated. There is a wack of condos going on the market soon and unless they make this around the 200-300 price range I can't see it selling. I know a lot of people are warming to the condo idea in the Waterloo but I find that people do it because they want to, not because they have to like Toronto, etc. I preach condo living and out of all the people I know only 2 couples have done it. A lot of people in this area like homes. But as I say that with all the stuff coming to Uptown/Downtown people are seeing the potential and I think in the next 5 years we will see a big change that hopefully changes peoples minds and makes them want to live here. LRT getting passed is a big thing for this, everyone I talk to about Uptown/Downtown agrees when the LRT comes it will be nice to live in due to the convenience factor.
Also when gas hits a 1.40 again people will see the advantages of walking/public transit.
I completely agree with you, both Uptown and Downtown need theatres. But is the Waterloo Theatre really the solution for this? I don't think so.
I'm not sure how you'd get the modern theatre. I don't know of many examples for modern, multi-screen theatres. From my experience there's World Exchange Plaza in Ottawa. Other than that, off the top of my head, I can't think of anything.
I don't believe the 4-storey limit applies to the back half of this property.
1. Encourage high density residential development in the Uptown by removing any existing height limits
2. Create a minimum 2 storey height limit for all development in the Uptown
3. Create a 4 storey height limit for:
- all properties fronting onto King Street between William Street and Bridgeport Road.
- All properties in the area bounded by the east side of Regina Street, both sides of Dupont Street, west side of Peppler Street and both sides of Princess Street.
Last edited by UrbanWaterloo; 02-01-2010 at 11:45 PM.
I think the demand is the big question. While I am totally for urban densification, I see three major barriers to the growing condo market right now in Waterloo region. First I maybe alone in this statement but I find all the condo developments here are always marketed towards a luxury audience, rather than multiple income ranges, where in comparison how much more would a full out house or semi-detached house with 2 or 3 x the living space be? Plus the condo fees seem to be a huge turn off for a lot of people. I mean at 144 Park for even the cheapest units were talking $250 +/month which on top of mortgage and utilities is the opposite of attractive.
The second ties into the first, in that as long as urban sprawl is an option its going to continue but once developers run out of land to develop which is starting to happen in Waterloo, they will be forced to either build elsewhere, redevelop projects or build density which then will add to the attractiveness of a condo. So in time I think this hurdle will eliminate itself.
The third thing being the long wait to having your place of residence ready for occupancy, putting all the money down and seeing nothing for 2 + 3 years. And one last thing, on a personal note I like some of the recent condo proposals but I'd like to see more details about others for example like what does the BarrelYards offer that "45 degrees" doesn't. Maybe with more competition between developers you would see an increase of condo buyers with more competitive costs?