My absolute favourite bar in the East end is HiLo, if you haven’t been there, you must go. Go right now (they open at 5). Ali and Emily make the best cocktails! Another bar I enjoy is our newest hot spot called Boots and Bourbon. You know…that country bar everyone’s been raving about for the past couple months. Been there, rode the bull, and sampled everything on the menu a few times over. Now I’m certainly not a restaurateur but the moment I started to hear about the opening, watched the chatter in the Twitter-verse, and finally attended opening night it was very clear that this bar will change Riverside and Leslieville for ever.
You see, prior to Boots and Bourbon, the East End bar scene wasn’t able to consistently attract people from out of the immediate area. Sure, many would come and dine at some of the best restaurants in the City that happen to be here but then they’d leave and go party in the West end or something. After 9pm there’d always be parking spots available along queen street and aside from the odd lineup at Prohibition you could pretty much walk into any bar without a wait. After my umpteenth visit to Boots last week I came to the conclusion that locals do not hang out there. I would estimate that 90% of their weekend clientèle is from out of the area and they have a steady line-up starting at 10pm that was still there while I headed home Saturday night around 1am.
What does this mean for our quaint little hood? Well, it aint so quaint no more! You’ll see a trend of more popular bars open up along Queen street and you’ll also see a lot more development. As of January 25th we have inside knowledge that ALL of the buildable lots along Queen Street East from Broadview to Greenwood are in the hands of developers. This includes the Stohos Auto Repair shop where we’ll soon see an office/retail development, the site where Jim’s Restaurant/Auto Garage is, and the 4 store-fronts where MacFAB currently resides to name a few will all be developed within the next few years. Neighbourhood associations are gearing up to fight the big bad developer and developers are suiting up their armour. 2014 – 2016 is going to be an interesting year for Queen Street East. The Leslieville BIA (which we’re happy to be part of) is currently working with the City to prepare a visioning study of sorts to give developers some idea of what we want this neighbourhood to become.