The ongoing construction on Bronson Avenue has hit many businesses in the area quite hard.
Whether it’s a decrease in retail sales, or dealing with the daily hassle of having their neighbourhood turned upside down, the impact has been significant.
Instead of buckling under the pressure, however, seven food establishments decided to offer a special joint promotion to attract new customers, and in the process turn a construction-based lemon of a situation into innovative lemonade.
As part of Support Local month, the eateries have launched the Bronson Food Passport throughout the month of November. Interested patrons can pick up the passport at participating locations (see below for the complete list) and collect a stamp whenever they make a purchase. After receiving five stamps, you can enter a draw to win one of seven prizes, with each business offering up a prize.
“We don’t have a [formal Business Improvement Association], we have a guerrilla BIA here,” says Mandi Lunan, owner of the vegan bakery Auntie Loo’s Treats.
The idea for the passport, explains Lunan, was inspired by a similar project in the Glebe that was implemented during that area’s extensive road construction. As for their contribution to the prize package, the vegan-friendly bakery will give a lucky winner a free eight-inch cake.
Other merchants note that one of the goals of the promotion is to increase retail traffic.
“I know a lot of businesses have been really affected by the Bronson construction, so I think this would be a great opportunity to encourage our customers to go to other businesses,” says Jennifer Heagle, co-owner of the Red Apron.
Heagle tells Apartment613 that the construction has had a big impact on local merchants, but sees the passport as a creative way of making November more interesting. As for the Red Apron’s contribution to the prize draw, it is dinner for two on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
The newest member to the area, meanwhile, sees a bright future for the Bronson neighbourhood.
Jon Reilly-Roe, the owner of the popular TacoLot in Hintonburg, opened up his newest restaurant Hang 10 in late-October. As the new kid on the block, he knows that he has avoided a lot of the construction-related headaches.
Nevertheless, he wanted to help his fellow entrepreneurs who bore the brunt of the construction, so he jumped on the opportunity to participate in the food passport. Hang 10 is offering a $50 gift certificate as a prize that can be spent at either Hang 10 or the TacoLot.
As a businessman, Reilly-Roe is extremely bullish about the Bronson area and sees a very bright future post-construction. “I see this block as the next Hintonburg,” he says. “I also own a courier company and have been driving in Ottawa for the last 20 years…so I know all of the neighbourhoods.”
Reilly-Roe says the Bronson area reminds him of Hintonburg, which was a much rougher place several years ago. Fast-forward to today, and the area is now filled with an increasing number of trendy shops and eateries. He sees the Bronson neighbourhood going in a similar direction, as it attracts adventurous and young entrepreneurs who are brought into the area by relatively cheaper real estate. The result, he predicts, is a neighbourhood that is ripe for growth.
Bronson Food Passport Participating Businesses (pick up your passport at any of the locations below):
Auntie Loo’s Treats – 507 Bronson Avenue
Hang 10 – 707 Gladstone Avenue
Jak’s Kitchen – 479 Bronson Avenue
Pressed Café – 750 Gladstone Avenue
Raw Sugar Café – 692 Somerset Street West
Red Apron – 564 Gladstone Avenue
Shanghai – 651 Somerset Street West