Business in the Glebe

After the first snowfall and the appearance of Christmas lights in the trees and shop decorations, people start to get enthused about the holidays and shopping. You can read about the BIA initiatives to make the year more festive, the opening of a new tapas restaurant on Strathcona, and some holiday specials available in Glebe store of the sweet and savoury variety.

News from the Glebe BIA
Building a dream close to home
It’s a sweet season in the Glebe


News from the Glebe BIA


The Glebe Spree is back! In what has become an annual tradition for the Glebe BIA, shoppers get a chance to take home $10,000 of merchandise or services from participating merchants.

Developed in 2011 to encourage shopping after the City of Ottawa’s extensive Bank Street Reconstruction project, the Glebe Spree campaign is in its third year, with over 18,000 entries in the past two years.

Three mystery Santas stroll down Bank Street. Photo courtesy of Glebe BIA
Three mystery Santas stroll down Bank Street. Photo courtesy of Glebe BIA

“We love being able to reward the people who shop the Glebe,” says Glebe BIA chair Greg Best. “This is an opportunity for our loyal customers as well as new visitors to experience the neighbourhood and all we have to offer.”

The promotion runs from November 16 to December 31 and rewards Glebe shoppers with a sticker for each $20 spent. Stickers are collected in their Glebe-Spree passport and once a page is filled with $200 worth of stickers, they enter their ballot into the draw for the $10,000 shopping spree! The winner will be announced in the New Year. Passports are available for shoppers to pick up at participating Glebe businesses.

In 2011, Will Raymond was the lucky winner and in 2012, Mary Pal took home the prize. This year’s prize money is generously donated by the Glebe BIA and Scotiabank (Bank & Fourth).

As Glebe residents, please make sure to support your local small businesses. The vibrancy of neighbourhood businesses depends on your patronage. Please remember us throughout the holiday season and you could win a $10,000 Glebe Spree!


We are excited that our lights are up around the Glebe early this year. Lighting the trees around the Glebe marks the start of our holiday season and brings cheer to the neighbourhood.

Many of our merchants are decorating outside as well as inside. Be sure to let them know if you like the look, as merchants always appreciate your comments! We hope you enjoy our winter wonderland this year. Look for further activities on the street throughout the holiday season.


The Glebe BIA is happy to partner with the National Capital Commission on Winterlude again this year, from January 31 to February 17. The “Rail Jam” event will be back, as well as the popular merchant seminars. You will be able to sign up for topics like: ever wonder what your diamond looks like under the microscope? Or, ever wonder what colours look best on you? These are just some examples of a long list to come. Watch for more information on Winterlude events in the next edition of the Glebe Report.


The Glebe BIA is happy to add three new murals to the neighbourhood. The new murals, completed by local artist Dan Metcalfe, are at the Glebe Meat Market, Octopus Books and soon the Minto building at Fifth Avenue. We are hoping to add more murals in the coming year. In addition to enhancing the look of the neighbourhood, they help deter tagging and graffiti in these areas.


The BIA is asking Glebe residents and business owners to be aware of graffiti in the area and report it to the police. The BIA cost for graffiti removal reached almost $30,000 this past year, becoming a huge and increasing burden on your business community.


The BIA has expanded our online presence so be sure to check out our website at and follow our social media channels, Facebook InTheGlebe and Twitter @intheglebe for up-to-date BIA news and events. We’re also embarking on an updated consumer brand for the Glebe business area and will continue to implement ideas to beautify your shopping district. So keep an eye out in the New Year!

For more information contact info@ or call 613-680-8506.

With files from the executive committee of the Glebe Business Improvement Area (BIA). TOP


Building a dream close to home

By Ian Miller

Photo: Ian Miller
Liam Vainola and Peter Woodbridge sitting in Earl’s Variety on Strathcona Avenue, the new ‘small plates’ restaurant they have been renovating over the last few months. Photo: Ian Miller

When Liam Vainola takes time to reflect on 2013, he’ll remember it as the year he got married and realized his dream of opening his own restaurant. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do. The last few years it’s been developing in my mind,” said Vainola. “This year has been crazy and I’ve just decided to get everything together and go for it, and miraculously I got a bank loan.”

Following his summer wedding, Vainola, his father and several friends began renovations at 225 Strathcona Avenue in September. They have worked day and night to turn the sawdust- covered floors and unrelenting drywall work into Vainola’s vision. Earl’s Variety was inspired by an old photo of Vainola’s grandfather, Earl, who worked at a general store in Saskatchewan.

Photo: Ian Miller
Earl’s Variety is opening its doors to the public as of December 6 starting with lunches and Sunday brunch. Photo: Ian Miller

“I just wanted it to have the feel of an old corner store,” explains Vainola. “We don’t want to scream ‘restaurant.’ We want to be a little niche spot where people in the neighbourhood hang out.” The small time, local theme runs deep within the staff, who have mostly grown up in the Glebe and have been long-time friends.

“It’s all a really tight knit community,” head chef Jason Brault says of the staff vibe. “We’ve worked together, known each other for years, all sort of went the same direction with our careers and now we’re coming back together and doing this.”

The restaurant will do small plate servings, where each person orders one or two items for the table and shares in the tasting experience as the plates come out. The menu features food styles from all over. Selections of French, Italian, Mediterranean and even Japanese-inspired cuisine are paired with exquisite wines, cocktails and premium draft beer. Earl’s even has a late night menu to keep night owls in the Glebe satisfied with a tasty snack or favourite drink until 2 a.m.

Photo: Ian Miller
Photo: Ian Miller

For a unique family-style dining experience, Earl’s will host monthly Sunday dinners with a surprise meal served up specially for each table. The modern twist on the timeless Sunday family get-together is intended to spice up the daily routine with new recipe inventions and the occasional guest chef.

“It gives the staff a chance to be creative, bring other people in and feel good about what they’re doing. I think it’s a really nice surprise for people coming in the door too.”

Many hours of carpentry and design work have gone into creating an elegant dining atmosphere. Local artists will display their work and a lighting designer Raivo Nommik has made the place glow. The restaurant seats 52 and food is cooked within sight in an open-concept kitchen. For Brault, the open concept adds a special connection between kitchen and customers. “I love seeing what’s going on, I like seeing people’s reactions and being part of the dynamic.”

Vainola and Brault both started out in the restaurant business as teenagers washing dishes. Vainola has worked in the food service and entertainment industries for most of his life. Brault worked all over the Ottawa restaurant scene before moving to Vancouver, where he was transformed from cook to chef with the mentorship of an extraordinary chef at the Granville Island Hotel. After almost a decade working in west-coast restaurants, he crossed the country to Halifax, and five years later came to Ottawa.

“I love the lifestyle that comes along with being a chef,” said Brault. “I get to work with people who are likeminded, energetic, love good music and good food. Pretty much my whole life revolves around food so the restaurant business just makes sense.” One of those people he gets to work with is his best buddy and sous chef, Peter Woodbury. Brault describes Woodbury as the hardest worker he’s ever met and it might surprise some customers to know Woodbury is completely deaf. “I’ve known him for so long, for me it’s so normal,” explains Brault. “We have little tricks in the kitchen, tapping your hand for example. He’ll read your lips and he’s amazing at it. It takes some people awhile to realize he’s deaf.”

As a young, first-time entrepreneur, Vainola enrolled in the City of Ottawa’s new Business Liaison Program. His mentor, Kyla Wier, has guided him through the process of opening a business. In getting ready to serve the restaurant’s first meal, Vainola says he’s glad to have so many friends and family on board helping to build his dream close to home.

Ian Miller writes the Business Buzz column for the Glebe Report every other month. TOP

Also, check out this video interview of Liam Vainola by videographer Mick Gzowski, which is featured in the Nov 26, 2013 Food & Drink section of Ottawa Citizen Style:


It’s a sweet season in the Glebe

By James Rimmer

The holiday season is guaranteed to be a tasty one here in the Glebe. Shops across the area are preparing and presenting their latest holiday specials and none, I am sure, can offer a sweeter deal than the purveyors of delicacies that I visited recently along Bank Street. As you wend your way past windows all decked out with decorations and Christmas lights, you may want to duck inside and indulge yourself or your family or friends in some mouth-watering delights. Take your time and enjoy your seasonal stroll.


Photo: James Rimmer
Photo: James Rimmer

The Flour Shoppe at the corner of Bank Street and Strathcona Avenue is already recognized as creating some unique tastes in cupcakes. For the festive season, it has brought back many holiday favourites such as gingerbread, eggnog and their very popular Bailey’s brownie cupcakes. Great as stocking stuffers are the small bags of malt balls, the peanut brittle and homemade caramels. Those tiny, tasty treats called mini cupcakes, so perfect for office parties, can be ordered online, as can the mix-your-own cookies – you pick the cookie dough, what you want mixed in, and then pick up the freshly baked cookies. Go to or call 613-695- 3752.


Sec Ave Sweets DSCN3761
Photo: Julie Houle Cezer

A bit further south, you will find a favourite haunt for those hankering for primo quality sweetness. Second Avenue Sweets (or SASS) is offering a wide range of homemade holiday goodies such as Christmas fruitcakes (traditional dark or light, filled with other types of fruit and nuts), SASS Yule logs (chocolate toffee crunch) and a great array of Christmas cookies, squares and cakes, addictive fleur de sel caramels and pies such as pumpkin and homemade mincemeat. “Just like your grandma would have made,” said owner Ellen Harris. Many of her recipes are based on older, traditional instructions. Three specials include their delicious date squares, sugar cookies and pecan pie bars. The chocolate pecan tart looks particularly tasty. Harris recommended that people place orders since “it can get very busy” as you get closer to the holidays. Go to or call 613-233-7277.


Photo: Julie Houle Cezer
Photo: Julie Houle Cezer

Located at Bank Street and Third Avenue, the French Baker is known for bringing the French baking tradition to the Glebe. Like its sister store, Le Boulanger Français in the Market, this Christmas the French Baker will be offering Yule logs of chocolate and pistachio, vanilla and chestnut, pear, raspberry and the traditional vanilla/ chocolate/praline as well as Stollen, a fruitcake covered with icing sugar. Luckily you will also find French imports such as tins of sablés and bags of pastel-coloured nougat that will make perfect hostess gifts or offerings for tea. On the savoury side, the French Baker will also be selling tourtières created from their own recipe with the best veal, beef and pork. Go to or call 613-236- 7579.


Renowned for its fresh, locally roasted coffee beans and for sweets that customers rave about, Francesco’s will be offering customers several deals on coffee during the holidays, including a substantial discount on the mega-exclusive Jamaican Blue that is to be brought in as a special offer. This coffee hub is also holding a December 15 raffle of four impressive Espresso machines; every purchase of a pound of coffee entitles you to a chance to enter the draw. Their ongoing “Buy One, Get One” campaign offers two coffees for the price of one when you buy food. So deals are the big deal at Francesco’s this holiday season. And if you fancy tea, surprise! Francesco’s also has many shelves of green, black, white and herbal loose-leaf teas. Go to www. or call 613- 231-7788.


Just south of Fifth Avenue, staff at the Glebe Meat Market are actively preparing savouries for the holidays. Beyond the traditional offerings of turkey, ham and lamb, this will be the first year that you can buy camel. A diverse range of cuts will be available. “Many people try the ground to see if they like it,” said butcher Stephane Sauvé. Also available will be tourtière, confit de canard and cipailles (pronounced sea pie). A traditional Québécois dish from the Gaspésie, the pie has layers of guinea fowl, deer, pork and potatoes, each spiced differently. The market also has some delicious stocking stuffers such as a maple pepper spice kit. The maple sugar is ground and mixed with a range of spices – there is even a maple curry mix. Call 613-235-9595.

James Rimmer, a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo, is a new resident of the Glebe. TOP

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