Need Help Making Kitchener Hip

With so much information at our finger tips you would think it would be easier to motivate yourself to have variety in your lifestyle. We sometimes attempt to find something different to do within the city and have to filter through the mountains of junk online to find it. We then have to navigate through all of the restaurants in the city to find the family owned non-chain establishments that gets decent reviews. We get bombarded by advertising from the big chains, and after spending 30 min trying to find somewhere different to go, you end up settling on Swiss Chalet, it’s the easiest. Off of the top of your head name places to eat for tonight that aren’t chains. I can only think of one or two right away. We have to try hard to think outside the box when it comes to almost all of the entertainment in the city. Why aren’t there easy ways to find out cool places to eat and hang out?

I try to find things to do in the city, and end up getting frustrated by the difficulty. Slicing and dicing through the internet trying to find some type of website that will give you a small nugget of knowledge rather than going to the theater to watch whatever “masterpiece” that Michael Bay has released.

You hear about cool things that other people do, but have no idea where they found out about this event or where it was even located. I have realized that unless it is spoon-fed to people they will not make any effort whatsoever. There is a theater in Kitchener that sells craft beer…. It also doesn’t charge $17.00 for popcorn and a pop. It charges $10.00 for a craft beer and a popcorn. Did you know that there is a restaurant downtown Kitchener that sells banh-mi Vietnamese subs (delicious) for $3.00? They actually had a sign outside apologizing that they had to raise the price from $2.75 to $3.00. Word of mouth shouldn’t have to be the only way that these businesses get recognition. Not with the internet at your fingertips. There are sites like Trip Advisor that make it a bit easier. But if I was to wager I would guess that maybe 2 in 10 people use this to make choices on places to eat.

We are zombies that have settled for over-priced mediocrity. Afraid of the unknown. Don’t want to get out of our comfort zones whatsoever. Not wanting to do any type of work to find the hidden gems. Putting your feet up on your lazy boy, throwing on the Big Bang Theory, engulfing your Domino’s Pizza with a Bud Lite in hand ready to face your Friday night head on with your subconscious mind making the easy decisions for you. Maybe we think we deserve a weekend of not having to think. Maybe this is how we unwind. How do we feel on Sunday evening? Well, I hate Monday’s quite a bit more when I feel like I wasted my whole weekend doing exactly what I did for the previous 3 weekends.

Unfortunately I do not have all of the answers. I can only review the things that I have tried and the things that I give the thumbs up to. Some of you have tried the places that I recommended, and enjoyed it. Most of you still haven’t tried, but like the idea of it, can’t push yourself to actually do it. Then there are others. The Zombie Herd. You don’t even want to try it. I have never been disappointed by this place or that place. I don’t need to try this out, this is good enough. I was once one of you. You can break free from this. There are people out there that do and make great things, and we have no idea. Just because they don’t have the money to advertise and you have never heard of it doesn’t mean that it’s terrible. It means you have never heard of it. I do not want to live in a world where Elison’s Bistro or Gilt has to close down so that a Boston Pizza or a Crabby Joe’s can go in its place.

I just got back from New York and I was intrigued by all of the different things there was to do. Now of course KW is not New York, but there are some similarities with all of the different places to go and eat. The majority I had never of. It was a very difficult choice picking between some of the best reviewed restaurants. In most Canadian cities it’s chain after chain. We have a country full of diversity and we somehow have this stigma in certain cities of supporting anything new. It’s becoming better though the younger generation makes me proud. Tech start-ups have brought out interesting young folks that seem less satisfied with the everyday. We are picking up steam in this city. Now if we just had a website that could pull it all together. Restaurant, entertainment, pub, music, and everything Kitchener reviews. KW Awesome where are you on this? Communitech has done a great job of getting talented people with money here. We are looking for places to go and things to eat. Reviewing the best of everything. Inexpensive, moderate, and fine dining. Tell us about the things going on Starlight or Maxwell’s. Sgt Peppers Album by the Beatles was just done by the symphony orchestra and Steven Page formerly of the Barenaked Ladies was a part of it. Pretty cool! Did anybody else know about this? Sort through the mess. Many great things are happening here, we just need a website to tell us about it. Help!

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Downtown Kitchener!

While reading the Record this past weekend it occurred to me that we might have an issue with something in Downtown Kitchener. You don’t notice it right away, but it slowly creeps into your mind the more that you think about things. You really notice it at the corner of King and Queen. Kitchener has an abundance of second hand stores, pawn shops, and pay-day loan stores within minutes of each other. These stores have little or no value to anyone. Their main purpose is to prey on the poor. Buying items for much lower then should be received, or giving you money for more money in the future.

This usually wouldn’t warrant any further discussion, but we just had a great restaurant have to close its doors because of rent increase; and we have a brewery desperately looking for somewhere to set up shop in the downtown. If Kitchener would like to shape up their central area and maintain the momentum that they have going from the tech district, they need to start removing the dragging-down- society retail shops. There is a need for these places, but these should be destination stores. Not in the central part of the city. The reason we have pawn shops and pay day cash loans is mainly because of alcohol and drug habits. By allowing businesses to thrive on the masses, Kitchener will always be doomed to live the cycle of a failing downtown district.

By watching first-hand how much trouble TWB Coop Brewery has had trying to find a way into the downtown, it’s been disheartening. Most businesses would have given up by now. Or would have gone to another city to begin their pursuit. They have been looking for more than a year for a place to call home; to begin to make some profit and build their brand. Zoning by-laws and high rent have come into play as well. TWB’s start up campaign was a huge success. Residents of Kitchener have shown time and time again that if you have a great product, you will succeed. Still nothing, it’s not for a lack of effort on their front. They have looked at multiple places to make this happen. Nothing has panned out as of yet.

Meanwhile, Imbibe was the absolute best place to go for a beer after work. Having multiple craft beer options daily. Laid back staff, and a very chill vibe. They were just starting to get into a groove of having regular customers. I thought they were going to have something special for years to come. The lease for their spot in the Museum was up, and the rent was hiked based on what the going rate was in the area. Another one bites the dust. It’s discouraging to see people with great ideas on how to enhance the downtown have such a difficult time making the dream become a reality. And if they have a sliver of success the rent then gets increased.

I want to support local businesses. But it has to be a business that has a value. Something that gives back as much as it takes from the community. Donates their venues to local events. Stays on top of all things Kitchener. We need the city to take a stand, and look at all angles when it comes to making this city a better place to live. I am personally in a competition with Waterloo. I believe that the city of Kitchener has more character, and can be a great landing spot for people that want to set up shop here. Let’s have a look at these zoning by-laws that are in place. Are they outdated? Maybe if you own a building take a look at the type of place that is going to be moving in to the spot. Will Imbibe increase the value of your property or bring in business for you? Yes, I think it will. Make it work with them so that everybody can be successful. We are almost there. This is already a city that I am proud to live in, but I want it to be a city where I can bring anybody to the downtown area and wow them with a unique experience. Which does not include a pay day loan. It has been a great run over the past five years or so seeing the central area of the city transform into an entertainment district. Let’s keep the ball rolling, and make this a city worth talking about.