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Ups N’ Downs goes back to Front

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Ups N’ Downs, one of downtown Sarnia’s busiest restaurants and nightspots, is about to undergo a major expansion and renovation.

The work will be done in stages beginning this fall, says co-owner John Mallon.

“It’s an exciting time to be in this business. It’s evolving and we either have to adapt or die,” he said.

The first step will involve connecting the existing Ups N’ Downs pub at 226 Front St. to the building directly behind it that fronts Christina Street. Mallon and his silent business partner purchased the Christina Street building several years ago with expansion in mind.

There’s only about half a foot between the backs of the two buildings, so joining them with a passageway won’t be difficult, Mallon said.

The Christina Street building will be converted for office and storage space, as well as food preparation so that the existing kitchen can be expanded, he explained.

“I bought Ups N’ Downs 21 years ago at a time when downtown was a ghost town at night and I was the only one with the lights on.” Mallon built the business primarily as a bar with lots of local bands and live entertainment.

“This building is 135 years old and we made a lot of improvements over the years, but most of them were to the infrastructure and you can’t see them,” he said.

“Now it’s time to make it more about the food. People these days are into quality more than quantity and they come out for dinner and a glass of wine rather than beer all day.

“I have to take the risk.” He’s reluctant to talk about exact dollars but said the work will be substantial.

The Christina Street building, which most recently housed “Your Sarnia Office,” will be stripped of its 1970s façade to expose the brickwork and windows beneath. A take-out counter will face Christina.

Big freezers that now take up space in the existing kitchen and basement will move to the second building, leaving room to expand the kitchen cooking area. Floors will be replaced. New walls will go up.

Mallon’s plan also calls for a redesign of the pub’s second storey, which currently has his office, a private banquet room and more restaurant seating.

His office will move and a second bar overlooking Front Street will stretch across the top floor.

“On First Fridays when we have a lineup of 50 down the street, those people will be able to come in,” he said. “We’re going to redecorate. The upstairs bar will be available for private parties too.”

Ups N’ Downs is licensed for 240 patrons and that likely won’t change.  But there’s a chance the staff of 35 will increase once all the work is done, Mallon said.

His motivation to re-invest in his pub isn’t just for an immediate return on the dollar, he added.  “I want to improve the streetscape and I want to increase our property value.”



A new variety store that also carries fresh fruits and vegetables from the Sarnia Farmer’s Market opened this week at 160 George Street.

The Kenwick Fresh Convenience, owned by Gianni Spadafora, is on the ground floor of the Kenwick apartment building next door to Miss Helen’s Daycare.

It brings in fresh produce each Saturday and Wednesday and will soon offer soup and sandwiches from a small kitchen.

Kenwick Fresh Convenience is open daily  8 a.m. – 9 p.m., with extended hours until 10 p.m. on Fridays and opening Sundays at 9 a.m.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.

– Cathy Dobson

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