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The Peptides at Queen St. Fare. Photo by Amanda Armstrong.

Queen St. Fare provides a new live music space to the downtown core

By Chrissy Steinbock on December 12, 2018

Ottawa gained a new spot to catch live music this past weekend with the opening of Queen St. Fare (QSF). QSF is a food hall, featuring six local food entrepreneurs sharing a beautifully designed room.

Lucky for Ottawa though, QSF is also one of the few food halls popping up across North America with entertainment on the menu as well. The live music side of things comes thanks to the involvement of Scott May and Ali Fuentes, owners of Bar Robo who now have a second location in the hall.

Perhaps the most exciting part of QSF’s opening is the way entertainment in the evenings and weekends throws a challenge to the way people move through and think about the downtown core. QSF can be found at 170 Queen st. across from the CBC building and just steps from the future Parliament LRT station.

Photo by Amanda Armstrong.

In other words, it’s in a block that’s all office towers and usually deserted outside of working hours. Here’s hoping that QSF injects a little life into the area.

Asked about what’s in the works for the space, QSF’s booker Jordan David says, “Essentially we’re keeping it pretty diverse, whether it be solo singers, bands, DJs, and see what works in the room. There’s so much talent in Ottawa, I definitely want to give Ottawa musicians the stage to do what they want to do.”

“There’s so much talent in Ottawa, I definitely want to give Ottawa musicians the stage to do what they want to do.”

QSF’s opening weekend featured a diverse mix of local acts from DJ Trevor Walker and The Peptides, jazz-funk outfit Thrust and TimeKode’s DJs Memetic and Zattar to indie rockers The Tackies and The Nebula Organ Trio who played the Jazz Brunch.

A space for touring acts

Queen St. Fare will also be a space to catch touring musicians. With a capacity of 390 they offer a venue size that was previously missing in the city so it just might attract touring bands that overlooked the city in the past.

Scott May says they’ve been reaching out to bookers across the country and are also looking at partnering with the Jazz Festival, Bluesfest and even Osheaga to do some shows. One example that’s already in the works that David mentions he’s especially excited about is Sea Moya’s show in late February.

“With a capacity of 390 they offer a venue size that was previously missing in the city so it just might attract touring bands that overlooked the city in the past.”

“In my opinion, one of the better brands in Canada,” Says David. “They’re really amazing. I think they might blow up.”

Expect more than bands

Though live music will likely be a focal point, Jordan David’s collaborative outlook will likely make for a entertainment calendar with more than just music.

“I’m down to work with anybody with ideas for shows,” he says, mentioning the Spice comedy collective’s variety show in January which will showcase the voices of marginalized folks with comedians, spoken word poets and some DJs. Another example of something a little different is the Portishead album listening party on December 12, 2018.

“I’m down to work with anybody with ideas for shows.”

Though QSF boasts a large stage visible from the street and conveniently located near the bar and a powerful P.A. system, from the sound quality at the launch, there will likely need to be some adjustments to the acoustics to account for the harshness from the space’s many hard surfaces.

Altogether, Queen St. Fare has a lot of potential as a new favourite spot to catch shows. Now it’s just up to us to venture into the core to check it out.

Upcoming shows at QSF

DJ Matt Tamblyn of Open Air Social Club at Parliament Pub and Drake Night will be doing a Thursday night residency for the rest of December.

Jazz Brunch will be a fixture on the weekends from 12–2 both Saturdays and Sundays with a rotating cast of musicians co-curated by Michel Delage.

Pianoman Jeff Rogers will have a Monday night residency starting in January.


Queen St. Fare is located at 170 Queen Street. This weekend’s Jazz Brunch series features music by The Nebula Organ Trio. Check our events calendar to see what else is going on there and throughout the city.