Blues, brother | Shoptalk | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Blues, brother

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news

The name is a storied one in Halifax, but the latest incarnation of Scoundrels (beneath Club 5171 at 5171 George Street) is less homage and more mnemonic device. “The bar that used to be there was called Scoundrels,” says general manager Gary Demone, “and we kept the name again so that people will know where it is. That’s the trouble with new bars sometimes. You can’t find them.” And in this case, Scoundrels may be a little harder to find at the moment than Demone would like. The two-week-old bar lost its sign in the storm on Saturday night. “I’m having a new sign built right now,” says Demone. So far the bar, which features live blues, is open Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm till 2am, but Demone is planning to expand the hours. He says they’re two or three weeks away from offering food at the club, as well. Scoundrels shares a kitchen with Club 5171, so patrons can expect similar comestibles. Demone says the places also share clientele. “The audience coincides with the country rock thing we’re doing upstairs—a lot of those people are sliding downstairs, and relaxing down there for a bit.” And some of those who are sliding on down are bringing their harmonicas. “People get up on stage and play with the band,” Demone says. “It’s pretty laid back.”

Like a Ducky’s to water

Life at Ducky’s Café (158 Portland) in Dartmouth these days is just, well, ducky. The 38-seat cafe is on the move, heading to Alderney Landing and a much larger spot by the water. “We’re taking over the spot that Sails had,” says Sherry-Lynn Aubie. Her partner, Sherry Smithers, owns Ducky’s, and on a recent Tuesday, Aubie was in helping out. Aubie says they’ve got big plans for the big space—the current pond is 900 square feet; the new one will be 2,100. “We’re going to have a humoungous deck, 40 feet by 20. We’re going to build that right away, because we’d like it to be nice. It doesn’t look like much right now, but with a nice deck, at Christmas time we can put some trees out there, and next summer we’ll be ready with a grill on the deck as well.” The plan is to be in the new spot by December 1. “We’re already getting New Year’s bookings,” she says. There’s plenty of work to be done before that, to make the high-ceilinged venue more cosy. “It’ll be Ducky’s on the waterfront,” Aubie says. “Our menu will stay the same, the prices won’t be going up. We’re very excited. Dartmouth really needs that, and wants that.”

Flower girl

Laura J’s Flowers (958 Cole Harbour Road) is something of a family affair. Laura Mack-Ledaire opened the new shop in July. “The ‘J’—there’s kind of a story behind that one. J is my middle name, my mother’s name starts with J, my favourite aunt who passed away, my grandmother, my sister-in-law, who lives in Brazil—a lot of important women in my life.” In fact, Mack-Ledaire’s aunt, who died a few years ago, always wanted her to have her own flower shop. And Mack-Ledaire’s niece is one of her employees. “She’s gone back to high school now, but she’s quite creative, so I’ve kept her on with me.” Mack-Ledaire, who used to work at another Cole Harbour florist, says that so far, owning her own shop has been “great, incredible. I’ve worked in this area for the last 18 or 20 years, so I actually had a lot of long-time clientele, and family and friends that have encouraged me to do this.”

Gulf stream

The little rent-a-car place on Hollis Street has been painted purple and is further adorned with what Shop Talk considers an extremely provocative sign: Opening Soon Persian Gulf Fast Food. We’re provoked in the best possible way, with visions of falafel balls dancing in our head. We hope we’re right, and that we’ll get a chance to find out soon. No other details are forthcoming at the moment.

Four the record

“We originally wanted to open just a backpacker’s hostel,” says Michelle Strum, of the business she and her partner, David Eisnor, run on Gottingen Street, “and that seems so long ago.” In fact, it was four years ago. What started as the Halifax Backpacker’s Hostel (2193 Gottingen), a place for weary packers to lay their heads, has become Alter-Ego’s, a bookstore-cafe that celebrated its fourth anniversary by getting a liquor license. DJs Jorun and Andirock helped get the party started last Saturday, taking turns DJing from the counter, and Strum and Eisnor want to keep it going all week—in the evening they’re offering $4 pizzas. Strum attributes most of her business’s growth to the neighbourhood itself. The locals heartily embraced the spot, mingling with the backpackers and with each other at lunch and over morning coffee. Now, Strum and Eisnor are hoping they’ll do the same at night. “In the summer, we’re open till 10 at night, because we have enough business, with the backpackers, to be able to. But we want to do it year round, because there’s not a lot open on Gottingen at that time.” Strum says with a bus stop just steps from Alter-Ego’s front door, and the One Light Theatre a few doors down drawing people to the area in the evenings, “we’re all starting to realize how possible it is for this to be kind of a little district at night. The locals aren’t used to coming down at night, they get their coffee on the way to work, but now there are lots of options showing up in the north end.”

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The MacKay Bridge and Barrington Street are taking loooong construction vacations this summer, making driving to and through the city harder. Will your commute be OK?