Rising rent and a higher minimum wage have encouraged three local business owners to form a new partnership.
“This is a unique opportunity,” says Ali Vander Velden, who is contracting the kitchen at Bottoms Up in Point Edward starting Feb. 14.
Vander Velden worked at, then owned, Jimmy B’s restaurant on Confederation Street over the past 10 years.
Despite a strong customer base that especially loved the breakfast menu, the restaurant was struggling and she made the difficult decision to close at the end of 2018.
“It’s a tough business,” she said. “I was ready to work for someone else.”
Then a friend told her Steve Dumont, the owner of Bottoms Up Bar & Grill, was looking to subcontract the kitchen.
Economics has forced Dumont to “think outside the box,” he said.
“It’s a different way to look at the restaurant industry. We’re going to make the enterprise more profitable with me focusing on the bar and music side of Bottoms Up, and two subcontractors running the kitchen.”
Vander Velden said her new venture “Ali’s” will open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch. She’s bringing all nine employees from Jimmy B’s with her to Ali’s and will open Fridays at 6 a.m. to accommodate loyal regulars from Jimmy B’s.
Each afternoon, the kitchen will turn over to D’Arcy Krumholtz, who is operating under the name Seven Sons Eatery.
Starting Feb. 1, Krumholtz will offer a “meat and potatoes” menu with dinner and late night specials.
“I like to bring out the food too if I have time,” he said. “I like to meet with my customers and run a really friendly restaurant.”
Meanwhile, the building in which Vander Velden operated Jimmy B’s at 792 Confederation St. is being sold by owner Rina Barker.
Barker’s family, the Georgis, operated The Open Kitchen there for many years before leasing the building to The Rooster Coop, George’s Grill, and then Jimmy B’s.
To prepare for the building’s sale, Barker recently sold the giant rooster that has perched outside the restaurant for at least 35 years.
The rooster has been a Sarnia landmark for decades, having been at the Capri Restaurant on Christina Street before being gifted to the Georgi family, Barker said.
“I had at least eight serious inquiries about buying it,” she said. Ultimately, local collector Kenn Poore purchased the eight-foot fiberglass rooster for an undisclosed amount.
“I’ve always liked odd and unusual things,” Poore said. “I have a 1932 American Austin Bantam Roadster with a rooster on the hood. Now my wife and I own the smallest and the largest roosters around.”
He said he is storing the big rooster for now but Sarnians should watch for it to be publicly displayed again sometime in the future.
“It might be back on a building sometime,” Poore said, without providing details.
“It used to have an egg with it that kept getting stolen,” Barker said. “It also had a speaker in the neck and it could cock-a-doodle-do. It stopped working long ago.”
Poore said he intends to repair the speaker but, to maintain its authenticity, he’s not repainting Sarnia’s most famous rooster.
Bottoms Up Bar & Grill is located at 607 St. Clair St. in Point Edward. Ali’s will operate there 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. starting Feb. 14. Seven Sons Eatery will open 3 p.m. to close, starting Feb. 1.
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