Monday, August 14, 2017

The Company House to close

The north end venue signs off September 5

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 4:27 PM


Last weekend, Gottingen Street bar and arts venue The Company House (2202 Gottingen Street) announced via a Facebook post that September 5 would be its last day in business, citing online harassment as the reason for closure. The bar came under fire last spring after community members criticized comedy podcast Laugh House, which records at the CoHo, for telling jokes about trans folks on its stage. Owner EmmaLeigh Rivera told the CBC that her family has incurred "ongoing harassment" since.

Opened in 2009 by Mary Ann Daye and Heather Gibson— who modelled it with the arts mecca The Khyber (which Gibson had previously managed) in mind—The CoHo was long known as one of the city's top listening rooms, home of the In The Dead Of Winter music festival and a LGBTQ+ community hub.

In summer 2016, the pair sold the bar to EmmaLeigh and David Rivera who've continued to bring stand-up comedy, improv and music—like the super popular The Big Sing—to its stage.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Beerfest is on a quest to help you try all the beer

A portion of proceeds goes to Prostate Cancer Canada Atlantic and Adsum House.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 9:00 AM


Halifax Seaport Beerfest
August 11-12
Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Rd
$45/$50, VIP $65

It’s almost time for the Halifax Seaport Beerfest, which festival co-founder Brian Titus calls “the biggest party.”

“It’s such a unique offering where it’s almost 100 percent proper craft beer or specialty import,” says Titus, who is also the president of Garrison Brewing Co.

Beerfest started in 2007, and it’s been growing ever since. Attendees have three sessions to choose from (one on Friday and two on Saturday) to taste unlimited samples. There will be 112 breweries and 368 brands participating.

“This year, it just exploded,” says Titus. “Part of that is, obviously there’s a lot more breweries around now than there were a number of years ago. But the other part is that we’ve been working really, really hard with individual breweries.”

Titus acknowledges that it’s a busy time of year for brewers, so although the festival has actively tried to focus on local and Atlantic beer, it can be tough—especially if the brewery just opened. This year, the local focus “really kicked in, in a great way” and about 40 percent of the beer is Atlantic Canadian.

That being said, there will also be booze from overseas to sip.

“There’s all kinds of beers here that you just genuinely cannot get otherwise if you don’t go to this festival,” he says. More than half of the beer and cider on offer is not available in stores, and Titus says the fest is an opportunity to seek it out.

“Whether it’s beers that have come in from several provinces away or outside the country that just never makes it here,” he says, “or even stuff that’s from quite a small, rural brewery that doesn’t normally end up on tap in town.”

There will be a total 40 gluten-free options, too, (should that be a concern of yours) and some non-alcoholic kombucha for the designated drivers. Bottoms up.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bagel Montreal Style is now open in Dartmouth

Pass the cream cheese, please

Posted By on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 12:56 PM

When Labana Sukhchan Singh first came to Halifax in January, he didn't know a soul. But he did know was that there was no one in town making wood-fired Montreal style bagels.

"Every week, all of these bagels are coming from Montreal to here," he says. "I said, 'let me take a chance'. So I started to look for where I could open a shop."

Singh isn't just a bagel enthusiast, he's a veteran. He honed his expertise in the bready baked good by putting in 18 years at the St-Viateur Bagel— home of the Montreal bagel. And with that skill set in his back pocket, he confidently promises his bagels are, "hand rolled, boiled with honey water and cooked in a wood-burning over. It’ll be 100 percent Montreal style."

Singh's Bagel Montreal Style opened today at 135 Wyse Road, after a summer of preparations, which included the construction of the aroma-inducing wood burning over.

"I have a whole bunch of bagels you can’t get anywhere here," he says. The list of flavours is sprawling, including the classic sesame, poppy seed and cinnamon, plus options like coconut, strawberry, garlic, Montreal steak spice and pumpernickel.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Five craft beer releases for August

Summer booze, makes me feel fine...

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 10:25 AM

  • Julie O'Kruk

It’s hard to believe August is already upon us. Soon patio season will be over and Halifax will be nothing but icy sidewalks and parking bans (sigh). But let’s not get caught up in that just yet. Summer is still here, so let’s enjoy it while we can. To help you do that, we’ve rounded up some late summer releases from a few of our local craft brewers. 

1. Tag! You're It by Big Spruce Brewing (6.5%, 49 IBU)
Release: August 3

This IPA was created in collaboration with Dalhousie University’s Ocean Tracking Network (OTN). Big Spruce has pledged that 50 cents from every can they sell will go to OTN and other programs doing ocean research, such as the tagging and tracking of sharks in the Northwest Atlantic. Big Spruce co-owner Jeremy White says Bishop's Cellar and Harvest Wines agreed to contribute another 25 cents from the sales they make. A second release of the 20,000-can brew is scheduled for October.

2.Fandango by 2 Crows Brewing Co. (6.8%, 52 IBU)
Release: August 5 (tentative)

This milkshake IPA has a tropical flavour with Azacca, Galaxy, and Citra hops: “All very tropical hops, think passionfruit, mango [and] tangerine,” head brewer Jeremy Taylor says via email. The beer is conditioned in a calvados barrel for several weeks, then finished with mango puree, peaches, vanilla bean and lactose (hence the term “milkshake IPA”). This will be a limited release, Taylor says. “We only have the one batch of it, and once it is gone it is gone.”

3. Promiseland by 2 Crows Brewing Co. (8.3%, 64 IBU)
Release: August 31 (tentative)

The folks at 2 Crows first brewed this double IPA a few months back. If you missed it, fear not—it’s going to be available again due to its popularity. Taylor describes it as “hazy and very juicy.” Promiseland is brewed with malted oats, flaked barley, and honey malt, and loaded with Citra and Simcoe hops. This beer also has a tropical touch, with juicy citrus notes: Orange, tangerine and a bit of mango. Taylor says they expect this to be a seasonal release, so you’ll have a couple months to grab it before it disappears into the boozy void for a while.

4. Oh My Darlin’ by North Brewing (6.3%, 30 IBU)
Release: August (tentative)

Oh my darling, oh my darling clementine IPA. North co-owner Rozina Darvesh says brewer Josh Herbin aged this beer in the company’s tank at Battery Park. It then underwent a secondary aging and fermentation process with Brettanomyces claussenii (a type of wild yeast), along with clementine juice and zest. This brew is bottle conditioned and is part of North’s Finite Series, so it’s limited edition.

5. Low Tide by Tidehouse Brewing Company (5.5%, 13 IBU)
Release: Late August

Say what? Tidehouse is about to drop its first bottle release, and they’re promising it’ll be something special. In collaboration with Low Point coffee, they’re releasing an American Porter. Low Point soaked their raw burundi coffee beans in 2 Crows’ calvados barrel for 24 hours, and those beans were sent up the hill and roasted at Java Blend. “Low Point made us a keg of the cold brew concentrate from this incredible coffee,” says Tidehouse co-owner Shean Higgins, and thus, a marriage of beer and coffee only made sense.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Off Track is bringing a brewery to Bedford

The brewery is expected to open in early October.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 1:47 PM


After several years of brewing beer at home, Allan MacKay is following his passion and brewing up a business. Off Track Brewing (275 Rocky Lake Drive), Bedford’s first craft brewery, is opening this fall. 

“I always loved brewing beer,” says MacKay. “I have some friends here in the city that brew quite a bit as well, so that was always a nice thing to get together—a nice social thing.”

MacKay got more serious about making beer after participating in one of Good Robot’s homebrew tap takeovers last summer. He created a peanut butter stout for the occasion, inspired by Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout from Dead Frog Brewery in British Columbia. MacKay’s version was a hit.

“It went over really, really, well. So then I started to think about it on a different level.”

MacKay decided to pursue brewing as a full-time gig. He’s teaming up with Matt Scott and Jon Saunders—both Nova Scotians who had left the province for work, but wanted to come back.

MacKay’s first instinct was to start a brewery in his hometown of Antigonish, but “logistically, it just doesn’t work for us uproot and move there.” Instead, they went with Bedford, where both Scott and Saunders are from.

“We’re all, obviously, huge fans of beer, so the idea of coming home was really appealing,” says MacKay. “And starting a brewery—I don’t know how that can’t be appealing.”

The team looked at upwards of 20 different locations until they found one that suited their needs, settling on Rocky Lake.

For Off Track’s first set of beers, MacKay is leaning to the light side: A pale ale, an American wheat beer and a Kölsch. He’s also bringing back the peanut butter stout for those who may have missed it at GRBCo. From there, the brewery will be rolling out experimental recipes through a smaller, half-barrel system. “Whatever catches on” has the potential to be part of Off Tracks permanent rotation, says MacKay.

He hopes that, as time goes on, Off Track will become a staple business in Bedford.

“You know where The Chickenburger is, you know where Finbar’s—the original—is. Everyone knows those spots, that’s Bedford,” says MacKay. “We want to be Bedford’s brewery.”

Off Track is expected to open in early October.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ciboulette is expanding, re-opening as the Bird's Nest

The Nest is yet to come

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 2:12 PM


After over nine years as a tucked-away upstairs gem at 1541 Barrington Street, Ciboulette Cafe & Catering is ready to sparkle a little brighter from a street-level location next-door.

“We outgrew the spot many years ago, but until now I’ve been struggling to find the right venue to expand into,” says owner Brady Muller who affectionately calls her new home—which was most recently Auntie’s dispensary— the old Loop (1547 Barrington Street). By expanding, the cafe will be able to move its kitchen equipment (it’s currently sharing a space with its neighbour, Chives Canadian Bistro) and set up an open-concept restaurant that’s more “sit-down friendly” than its current nook, offering up 40-ish seats. “It’s a huge improvement over our eight seats we currently have,” says Muller.

“For years we know that people walk by us every day and do not know that we’re there. It’s really exciting to hear comments since the announcement of the expansion and people are saying, ‘I never heard of this place, I never knew it was there’,” she adds. “We do have a loyal following, but we’re excited to see what will happen when we’re more visible. I think we have a lot of opportunity in front of us right now.”

With the move also comes a new name for Ciboulette. When it re-opens in the early fall it’ll be called the Bird’s Nest, a nod to a nickname and an excuse to start fresh.

“We’ll be keeping our existing space as a little reading room and have it available to private meeting rentals, tucked in the eves as our little nest,” says Muller, adding that Ciboulette—which she originally opened in partnership with Chives, but has since bought out—had always been a difficult word for customers to pronounce and spell. The tried and true menu items will be sticking around, but the Bird’s Nest will expand its offerings thanks to less constraints in the kitchen. Muller is particularly excited about the fact that her new location makes for an entirely food and drink centric block of Barrington Street.

“We are all very tight,” she says of her neighbours The Old Apothecary and Chives. “The Chives and 2 Doors Door family and I are truly family. I immigrated to this country after coming on vacation here and having a meal at Chives and deciding to go into the restaurant industry. It has literally been a home base for me for over a decade.”
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Friday, July 7, 2017

Shop this: Masala spices from Shivani's Kitchen

Spice up your life with this line of fresh, salt-free masala

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 12:32 PM


For almost three years, Shivani Dhamija’s been bringing authentic Indian flavours to people’s tables and kitchen counters via Shivani’s Kitchen which operates as both a tiffin delivery service and a host of one-on-one and group cooking classes. Now, Dhamija is adding a little extra spice to her food-based-business, offering a line of fresh, salt-free, gluten-free masala spices to use at home. Her collection includes garam masala, butter chicken masala, curry masala, turmeric masala and chicken tikka masala, which retail for $7 a jar. Find Shivani’s Kitchen at the Spryfield, Tantallon and Prospect farmers’ markets, or contact her directly with orders via her website.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tall Sips drops anchor July 27

Get thirsty! We're celebrating summer and the incoming Tall Ships Regatta, with this week of specialty drinks.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 5:09 PM


Later this month The Coast is raising a glass (actually, over 45 of them) to cocktail culture, summertime in the city the the incoming Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta with a celebration of hydration— Tall Sips.

Restaurants, bars and cafes across town are joining in on the fun, offering up special $8 alcoholic or $5 non-alcoholic, nautically-themed beverages from July 27 to August 2, when tall ships from around the world will be the talk of our docks.

It works like this: You pick up a passport from one of the participating locations, feast your eyes on the 48 options for wetting your whistle—beers, cocktails, shakes, iced coffees and more— and collect stamps as you sip your way across the city.

Get a sneak peek at the Tall Sips menu here.

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Stockpot Cafe simmers in Burnside

New lunch option opens today

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 7:00 AM


“Basically we’re just three foodies that love to travel and eat and try different food, in the past five years we’ve been across the world,” says Hadi Hafez who opens Stockpot Cafe today in the former location of Burnside lunch favourite, Starfresh Diner (20 Wright Avenue). “We’re Haligonians at heart, we’ve been here 20 or 25 years, but something keeps bringing us back here. All three of us—the chef is my brother, the third owner is a long time friend—we keep meeting in the same place some how.”

They teamed up to open Stockpot Cafe, a spot for quick, homestyle sandwiches, salads and soups that call on mostly Mediterranean cuisine, as well as some hearty, but not over-the-top, fusion dishes like shish shawarma, butter chicken soup, donair salad. “We want to make sure people are getting nourishment while they’re at work,” says Hafez.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Goodmore Kombucha launches six flavours

It was ferment to be

Posted By on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 12:18 PM

  • John Newgard
Fifteen years working overseas in the wine industry instilled a serious love for “crafting beautiful beverages” in Kevin and Alexis Moore. So much so that the couple— who on top of wine, had an affinity for making fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, beer and kombucha at home— returned to their home in Nova Scotia about a year ago with a plan to start Goodmore Kombucha in hand.

“We had this moment of having a very intense calling home,” says Alexis. “We made lots of changes and brought ourselves back here and wanted to start our own project. This seed has been growing for quite a while so we were really exited to bring that seed home.”

The couple did product trials in their kitchen to arrive upon six individually fermented kombucha flavours, like black ginger, green rosehip hibiscus and oolong hop cardamom. They officially launched the brand last week. “Coming from a wine background we wanted to focus on more on the subtleties that kombucha can present, highlighting the diversity of teas,” says Alexis.

For now, you can find bottles at Local Source Market, Dilly Dally Cafe, Battery Park Beer Bar and Little C, going forward the Moores hope to grow their brand and maybe even experiment with kombucha and cocktails.

“Coming back a year ago, there were little to no kombucha producers and we’ve been thrilled to see the handful of really great producers pop up,” says Alexis. “Having an industry that can come together and tell a shared story, where each company has their own differentiation, that element of collaboration is so exciting.”

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Adieu Agora, hello Haligonian

New stuff on Agricola Street

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 5:16 PM

After just under a year on Agricola Street, Agora Cafe & Grill Bistro (2394 Agricola Street)—the colourful little cafe, serving up a menu of Mediterranean cuisine, coffees and baked goods—closed its doors permanently yesterday. The cafe's owner Kubilay Gonul took to Facebook for parting words, and to share the news that a new business would be taking over the space.

The adorable little building and its tucked away backyard terrace will make way for The Haligonian Cafe & Bistro, which will open in the next few weeks. The soon-to-be cafe is currently running a survey to try and get feedback from the community, you can take it here.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Tart & Soul is sweet on the south end

A new cafe and bakery opens on Coburg Road later this month

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 12:18 PM

An oreOMG in all its glory
  • An oreOMG in all its glory

Punny folks and cafe connoisseurs Saf Haq and Lisa Brow are whispering sweet nothings into south end ears this month. The pair—who worked together at Two If By Sea—are opening their own cafe and bakery, Tart & Soul Cafe at 6389 Coburg Road, where Springhouse (formerly Fruition) recently closed up shop, in mid-June.

“We both were seriously craving the need to create something to call our own and we were lucky that it happened for us almost simultaneously,” says Haq of the well-timed vacancy. “We have worked together a lot already so it’s nice to have your business partner also be someone who can kill it in the kitchen with you. Lisa actually trained me so she’s definitely the real deal. We have kind of been waiting for this moment since we met in baking school in 2014.”

The cleverly named cafe will be all about the baking, serving cookies (see the pictured oreOMG, a shortbread/cheesecake sandwich, for instance), scones, squares, bagels and plated desserts alongside Anchored Coffee and another local roaster, says Haq. Once things get rolling, you can expect Tart & Soul to serve lunch as well, and sell wholesale goodies.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

North Brewing Company wins two Canadian Brewing Awards

And the CBAs are coming to Halifax next year!

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 4:19 PM

North Brewing Co's hardware - ROZINA DARVESH
  • North Brewing Co's hardware
  • Rozina Darvesh

Rozina Darvesh and Peter Burbridge struck gold last weekend. The co-owners of North Brewing Company took home two gold trophies with their first-time entries at the Canadian Brewing Awards, which took place in Ottawa. North’s Gus’ 65m Ale was the victor in the Belgian Abbey/Pale category and its Midnight Glenora Barrel-Aged in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (dark) category.

The awards are Canada’s premier competition among beer and cider manufacturers. This year marks 15 years since the Canadian Brewing Awards started judging the finest beers the country has to offer. This year’s awards weren’t just a win for North, but Nova Scotia, too—the event will take place in Halifax for the first time in 2018. To the folks at North Brewing, having the event take place here puts Nova Scotia on the map in the world of craft beer. “It shows just how the industry has evolved,” said Burbridge. “Halifax now has more breweries per-capita than anywhere else in the country.”

Starting a brewery was a way for Darvesh and Burbridge to stay and build roots in Nova Scotia. The art of making beer helped combine the food science degree Darvesh received from Dalhousie University with Burbridge’s MBA into a family business. The two beers that took home gold in Ottawa were conceived by the couple in the company’s first year. “They’ve been with us since the beginning,” said Darvesh.

Gus’ 65m Ale is a Belgian-style “patio beer”, blonde with citrus notes, created and named for North’s neighbour Gus’ Pub and the 65-metre distance between them. Midnight, a strong brew with tones of cherry, dark-chocolate, whiskey and vanilla is barrel-aged in Cape Breton and bottled in Halifax.

Three other Nova Scotian breweries—Uncle Leo’s Brewing, Boxing Rock and Propeller—took home awards over the weekend as well, while Bulwark Cider and Sid’s Cider took multiple honours in the cider categories.

Darvesh says she is pumped to show what Nova Scotian craft brewers are capable of at the awards next year. “We, as a brewing company, get to showcase what we do to the rest of the country,” she says, “open our doors and show-off our province and reciprocate the welcome we received in Ottawa.”

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mexican eats and patio plans from the Stubborn Goat

Cooking up new establishments downtown

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 2:14 PM

The soon-to-be location of this summer's newest patio bar, The Rooftop - RILEY SMITH
  • The soon-to-be location of this summer's newest patio bar, The Rooftop
  • Riley Smith

“We really believe in the downtown core of Halifax and we want to add something that’ll help make downtown Halifax a destination,” says Geir Simensen. He and his Stubborn Goat Gastropub co-owners Joe McGuinness and Kyle Drake are putting wheels in motion this summer to add not just one new place to eat and drink downtown, but two.

First, The Rooftop. In the next week or so, the literal rooftop above Blowers Street’s Sicilian Pizza—which has operated as an outdoor space for Scanway in past summers—will re-launch as one of the sunniest new patios in the city. The Rooftop will serve a small menu of “flavourful, tasty and seasonal” barbecue-style eats, all cooked on the roof, says Simensen, as well as craft beer, cider and wine.

“It’ll be very different from the Goat experience,” he says. “We don’t want to offer the same experience in two places.” Once summer winds down, the Goat family will prepare to launch another new restaurant—this one indoors—in the renovated former home of The Foggy Goggle (1667 Argyle Street), which will overlook both Argyle and Barrington Streets.

“The concept is Mexican. It’s not going to be Tex-Mex, it’ll be authentic. Joe, Kyle and I all share an appreciation for that style of food,” says Simensen, who’s been spending time exploring Mexico, its culture and its cuisine for nearly 20 years. “It’ll be nice, simple food. Fresh masa tortillas. Real Mexican products.”

The restaurant—which doesn’t have a name just yet—will seat about 120, and aims to open in late September. Think Spanish music, good tequila, homey atmosphere and flavorful food.

“We like to stay very true to our concepts. With this one, we feel like there isn’t this being done anywhere in Halifax and we think it’s going to be a great addition to what’s downtown already,” says Simensen.

“I want people to smell the fresh masa when they walk into the place.”

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Rotisserie chicken heats up on North Street this summer

EDNA owner Jenna Mooers and restaurant builder Andrew Flood team up in the name of charcoal rotisserie chicken

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 11:45 AM


When Robin’s flew the coop, Jenna Mooers and Andrew Flood quickly took flight and locked down the North Street location for a new restaurant.

“We jumped on the space before we even had a business plan because in place just because we wanted the space so badly,” says Mooers. Her partner, Flood, helped build the neighbouring Unfiltered Brewing, so they knew the space was ripe with opportunity.

Flood has worked on a lot of cool spaces in town in his time at Five by Five Renovations, including Stillwell and their beer garden and Good Robot. “He’s well-versed in the realm of building restaurants and bars,” says Mooers, who is herself well versed in operating them.

It didn’t take long to come up with the concept.

“Andrew and I lived together in Montreal for eight years. When we go back, one of our favourite types of food to eat is Portuguese charcoal rotisserie chicken,” Mooers says. “Romados is usually one of the first stops that we make.”

Portuguese chicken has the punch of piri piri sauce, addictively peppery, garlicky and tangy. The rotisserie chicken is kissed by charcoal heat, generally meaning it is moist as hell with perfectly crisped — hopefully singed! — skin since it bastes in its own tasty juices.

That said, Mooers makes it clear that her new place isn’t a Portuguese restaurant. It’s just about the chicken.

“It will be in that style and will have that influence, but we are not going to put a cultural tag on it,” Mooers says. “Obviously we are not Portuguese.” So, basically, when it comes to natas, expect nada.

It’s going to be a casual place. “A joint,” says Mooers. The menu will be focused on take-out, the chicken and fries or salads. Maybe sandwiches. The real focus is the eight-foot charcoal pit where the chicken will be roasting. “Other than that, it will be a pretty small menu,” she says. “We’ll have a couple of local beers and a couple a local wines on tap. And we’ll have a little patio out front and a little bit of seating inside, but it’ll primarily be a take-out restaurant.”

The name is still under wraps. “Every time I told someone I was naming my restaurant EDNA they looked at me and said ‘What?’” she says with a laugh. “So I’m keeping this to myself for a while longer.”

Mooers hopes to be open in July or August.
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In Print This Week

Vol 25, No 12
August 17, 2017

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