A great fuss is being made over the new Bridgehead coffee shop and factory that opened on Tuesday on Anderson Street at Preston. While I was there the CBC camera crew was there, then a reporter, and a steady stream of curious customers.
Certainly the exterior facelift of the old Bell stables building is welcome and, when finished, should be attractive. The Preston Street-side exterior won’t be renovated until the coffee shop expands out to that façade in a few years time, when they manifest their restuarant-bakery ambitions.
The first thing that struck me was seeing the usual advertising T-shirts being customized to one store. Here’s the owner, Tracey Clark, wearing hers:
Note the “Preston”. Just a few years ago, custom clothing became affordable to small businesses. Now, with digital technologies, it has become so affordable it can be customized to individual locations of a small business. Just up the street, the new Broadway resto-pub at 333 Preston has its truck wrapped in advertising specific to their newest location.
The inside of Bridgehead is funky and fun, in the way that modern public uses can be integrated with the bones and skeleton of an elderly building. A lot of the interior still isn’t finished: the glass railings for the stairway and balcony are missing, office walls are missing, the front air-lock entry can be just walked through in any direction since the glass hasn’t arrived. Even the skylights are temporary and unfinished.
Outside, the trim on the windows isn’t yet there; from the inside, there are gaps as big as four inches around the frames of the windows. Rather than off-putting, customers rushing to the latest Bridgehead seemed to feel a special part of the establishment by being there during the construction.
On our second visit, Wednesday, some equipment in the factory part of the vast open space, was operating for the entire time we were there. It was really noisy, drowning out the Muzak and making conversation difficult. Tracey Clark tells me that a sound engineer will be making noise abatement recommendations once all the interior walls are finally installed. I was surprised that the factory part of the building was so open to the retail area: I expected to find some sort of glass wall to separate the two for acoustic and sanitary reasons.
There will be a minimal number of tables outside the restaurant, as Bridgehead has very little property between the building and the street. To put out more tables would require “renting” the space from the City for thousands of dollars a month. This is yet another example of the City’s perverse way of encouraging street life.
Ironically, when the Bridgehead renovations began over a year ago, Anderson Street was looking rather sad. Now, many of the houses on the street are being renovated. Forget the house tenants – your’re renting location, just steps away from the java jolt shop !