Owner turning nightclub on Victoria Row into dining, live entertainment restaurant

Steve Barber says John Brown Richmond Street Grille will feature jazz and blues music, specialty beers and mature atmosphere

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on May 10, 2014

Jeff Sinnott, one of the managers for the new John Brown Richmond Street Grille on Victoria Row, says the beer and wine bar will feature a mix of good food and specialty beers. It will open on the long weekend in May in what used to be Globe World Flavours.

©Guardian photo by Dave Stewart

It’s out with the Globe and in with the new.

Red Island Hospitality Group Inc. is turning off the dance music on Victoria Row in Charlottetown and firing up the grill.

Globe World Flavours has shut its doors for good and will re-open for the Victoria Day weekend in May as the John Brown Richmond Street Grille, featuring a wide selection of draft beer and fine wines.

Steve Barber, director of Red Island, which will operate the new John Brown restaurant, says the name comes from the man who built the building.

“We’re going with a theme of heritage so the décor will be pictures of prohibition and what that building housed in the past,’’ Barber said in an interview.

And it is quite a past.

According to Barber’s research, The Guardian worked out of that location at one time. Over the years, it has also been the home of Pat’s Rose and Grey, the Island Rock Café and Brennans.

“It’s going to be a beer and wine bar as well as an eatery. It will be quality dining.’’

Gone are the pink and blue colours inside as well as any evidence that it was quite recently a nightclub. There’s no DJ dance booth or fancy lights. The inside now features darker tones with more beige and brick on the walls. Artist Emily Howard is doing some paintings and murals for the walls.

Music will still be a big part of life at John Brown’s but the turntables will be replaced with live music with a decidedly sharp turn to jazz, blues, roots and rhythm.

“We’re going to be a listening room and a show space for those (acts).’’

Todd MacLean and Justin Simard, the dynamic duo which has been entertaining the outdoor patio crowd on the Row for some time now, will be featured three nights a week this summer.

Live music won’t start inside John Brown’s until at least 10:30 p.m. when music on the Row shuts down.

Barber also emphasizes the beer bar concept with John Brown’s Grille. He points to the beer bars in Halifax for comparison purposes. Think Propeller Brewery or a place like Garrison Brewery, for example, watering holes that do to beer what Starbucks did to coffee.

“We’re not brewing our own beer but we are going to be featuring beers that you wouldn’t normally find anywhere else . . . on P.E.I. There are going to be 16 different draft taps as well as a 40-plus wine bottle list.’’

As for the food menu, Mark Duffy and Jared Smith were still putting the finishing touches on it but suffice to say it will be a mixture of high-end and pub food with a few favourites from its days at Globe World Flavours thrown in for good measure like pad thai and calamarie.

“There will be a lot of new items that will blow people’s minds. We’ve been putting a lot of thought into this over the winter.’’

Jeff Sinnott, who will manage the restaurant with Ryan MacEwen, gave The Guardian a sneak peek recently at the renovations and it appears sightlines have been improved. Whether patrons are sitting up in the balcony or at one of the booths, no one should have issues with seeing the live music.

John Brown’s, which will operate year round, isn’t the only wine bar/grill opening on the Row. The Row House Lobster Company is getting set to open a few doors down but Barber isn’t looking at the lobster grill as competition. In fact, he thinks the two businesses will complement each other quite nicely.

“I hear we have new neighbours. We’re very excited that they’re going to be open year round, too. I think our two properties will feed off each other. We’re really excited to have somebody fresh down there.’’

Barber points to the success of the Hunter’s-Factory Cookhouse-Buono Mangia combo of restaurants on Kent Street as proof.

“They’re all side by side and that kind of makes it a destination to eat. Maybe (people) will go eat at the Lobster Row House and come watch a show with us.’’

The Globe closed its doors Jan. 5 although it did re-open for the East Coast Music Award weekend. It would have been open five years this summer.