Fat Tuesdays Leaving ByWard Market, Starbucks Rumoured to be Moving In
The home of Ottawa’s renowned duelling pianos will pack up shop in April and move to Kanata, potentially making room, some are speculating, for a new Starbucks in the ByWard Market.
Fat Tuesdays will open its doors on 62 York St. for the last time on Saturday after occupying its spot in the Market for 14 years.
“It’s sad we’re leaving. The ByWard Market has been close to my heart,” said Manny Garcia, a managing partner at Fat Tuesdays.
Garcia will be heavily involved in the restaurant’s move — pianos and all — to its new spot, the Kanata Centrum Shopping Centre, where he will manage its operations.
Citing the pianos as a major part of Fat Tuesdays’ success, Garcia said the new location will have a stage where performers will pound the same keys just as they did in the market.
“We built something very special in the market. We met a lot of great staff and great guests,” Garcia said.
“You always want to do better and we have seen a decline in sales.”
Rumours have been brewing that a new Starbucks will be opening in the soon-to-be vacant spot on York Street. Speculation has it that the branch will be called Starbucks Evening, a new concept where alcohol will be sold after 4 p.m., according to Phil Waserman, co-chair of the ByWard Market Business Improvement Area.
“It’s a new concept. There are only five or six in the world … and if they’ve have chosen Ottawa ByWard Market to open, I think that’s not a bad thing,” said Waserman, also the owner of Courtyard Restaurant.
A Starbucks spokesperson said the company is in the “early stages” of considering the York Street location. While the company had no concrete details to share yet, Madeleine Lowenborg-Frick said, Starbucks “considers a broad range of products and experiences for each neighbourhood.”
ByWard Market business owners expressed mixed feelings over the possibility of the iconic and ubiquitous Starbucks logo potentially moving onto the block.
“It’s a loss,” said Gerry Daoust, owner of Chez Lucien, another restaurant in the ByWard Market. “I mean, (Fat Tuesdays) was a scene up there for quite a while, and what we’re replacing it with is kind of a soulless thing.
“It is a shame someone local isn’t interested in that space. Times are harder now in the Market than they were five or even 10 years ago,” Daoust said.
John Diener, co-owner of Sasloves Meat Market, said there would be both pros and cons to Starbucks’ entry.
“I think it’s a little regrettable a long-standing business has chosen to leave, but I think it says something positive about the market that a major player like Starbucks has the confidence in the area,” said Diener, who also serves on the board of directors of the ByWard Market BIA.
While Starbucks is not going to be locally owned like Fat Tuesdays, the cafe would, in theory, still hire local employees who will patronize other local businesses, Diener explained.
“The fact is the economy has taken a bit of a downturn and there are a lot of positives with having a strong player operating a business down there,” Diener said.
Loyal patrons can look forward to Fat Tuesdays reopening within five to six weeks, said Garcia.
While all staff were invited to follow the restaurant to its new location, Garcia said, some had to be transferred to sister restaurants in the Ottawa area due to Kanata’s distance.
“It’s sad, but (the relocation) is a new challenge, a new beginning, a fresh slate.”