Door shuts at Norm’s, a window open at Twisted Arm

Jenn Armstrong sits at the bar of Norm’s, which closes April 22. Husband Tyler Armstrong is busy on the construction site of their new Twisted Arm restaurant and bar.
Cathy DobsonJenn Armstrong sits at the bar of Norm’s, which closes April 22. Husband Tyler Armstrong is busy on the construction site of their new Twisted Arm restaurant and bar. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Saying goodbye is so much easier when you can say hello again a few days later.

Jenn and Tyler Armstrong admit they’re sad to see the business they’ve operated for nine years shut down on April 22. That’s the last day Norm’s Pub & Grill will welcome its regulars at 1450 London Rd.  The lease is up and is not renewable, said Jenn Armstrong.

But about a week later the couple intends to open a new restaurant and bar a few blocks away. It has a new name, new vibe and some creative new menu items, but the staff and relationships they’ve built will remain the same, she said.

“We are so grateful for our loyal customers at Norm’s the past nine years,” she said. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be taking this next move.”

The Armstrong’s new place will be called Twisted Arm, a play on The Tragically Hip song Twist My Arm. The Hip is Jenn’s favourite band and the theme is carried throughout the bar and menu.  One wall of Twisted Arm is covered in blowups of Hip album covers.

“We’ve known for a long time that Norm’s would eventually close,” she explained. It’s a momentous event for Armstrong, who started working as a cocktail waitress at 1450 London Rd. 22 years ago.

“I’ve spent half my life in this building. I am sad to leave,” she said.

But the Armstrongs are excited about opening Twisted Arm in the London Road Shopping Centre at 1249 London Rd.

At one point, they eyed the space once occupied by Jack Doyle’s Irish Grille, but that plan changed when it was announced Tepperman’s is building a new store there. The Armstrongs immediately looked at the west side of the shopping centre and struck a deal about seven months ago.

They purchased the fixtures and kitchen equipment from Jack Doyle’s and began design work at the new location.

Tyler Armstrong is gutting the existing space and building a large gathering bar faced with stone.  The look of Twisted Arm is more contemporary than Norm’s and some of the tables are designed to roll away to make room for dancing to DJ music the first Saturday of the month.

Norm’s loyal customers have made it clear some traditions must carry on, Jenn Armstrong said.  The new place will have booths, tall tables and chairs, and wings will be on the menu along with other favourites.  A separate party room with seating for 50 will be available.

All 23 of Norm’s employees are moving over to Twisted Arm.

New menu items include Twisted Crisps (spiral French fries) for $6.99. Nacho orders can have “Twist It Up” additions like pulled pork for $2.99 extra. The Armstrongs are introducing a new Steak Stacker, a huge steak with sautéed kale, spinach, onion rings, bacon and gravy for $18.99. the new burger menu features 20 varieties.

The final stages of construction are under way and opening day is expected the final week of April.

Meanwhile, requests are coming in for tickets to attend the final day at Norm’s. There won’t be tickets but Jenn anticipates a full day and evening of live music, draws and good company.

An auction will be held at Norm’s for its furniture and equipment on April 26.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.