In episode 65 of Amplify Your Business, Lance heads downtown to visit SOHO, Edmonton's newest spot for delicious food and drinks, and live music! Watch as he chats with partners Darren Pelechaty, Aaron Lang, and Chris Curtola about all things food, punk, and what it's been like to open a bar in the middle of a pandemic.
(1:18) Darren shows Lance SOHO's entrance mural and inclusivity statement.
We wanted to create a place that welcomes everyone. Punk rock isn't a hair-do, it's a lifestyle. We're all about inclusivity and re-creating the rock-and-roll, punk bar vibe with delicious food and drinks, and live music.
(2:59) What an amazing space! Can you tell me more about the inspiration for the design of the restaurant?
I used to live in the US, working in music production, and when I got home I missed the places I used to frequent down there, so lots of the design elements are inspired by the memories I have from that period. The red booths, for example, would be immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with the bar scene in LA.
We also have posters all over the walls. The scene of punk was arguably born in New York, so we wanted to pay tribute to that. You'll see lots of performers who were involved in that initial scene, like David Byrne of the Talking Heads and Debbie Harry of Blondie. We also wanted to include people who follow that same punk attitude of rebellion and inclusion, like Anthony Bourdain and David Bowie. I particularly love the painted pieces around the restaurant, painted by a personal friend of mine.
It looks shiny and new right now, but I'm really looking forward to the miles we'll be putting on it over time!
(7:28) So, is live music and entertainment a big part of what you want to do with SOHO?
Yeah, absolutely. We have a great music and entertainment program. We're looking forward to hosting lots of great bands, album curations, and even jam sessions in a way this city isn't used to yet.
When all is said and done, we really want it to be a space where musicians and music lovers alike can come in, have some fun, and hang out. Thankfully, I have plenty of experience in the area of bar and music management, so it's not too complicated. We also have a great music community in the city that's really eager to get on stage, so I'm looking forward to it!
(9:06) What kind of food are you serving?
We're serving lots of East Coast US food, like philly cheesesteaks, New York-style pizza, and meatball subs. It's food that I really love, and we're really excited to bring it to people here!
We use the best ingredients we can, because even though it's simple food, we want it to be as delicious as possible. I'm also proud to say I have a lot of experience with this stuff, so I know my way around a sandwich, and we've mastered our New York pizza.
(11:11) Why did you decide to open in the middle of a pandemic?
I've known Darren for many years. We used to work together at Dante's on the West End, many years ago. I ran into him one day and we got to talking about the business, and I asked him if he would ever come back to the industry. He said "well if I can find the right people and concepts, I'm on board"!
We knew that we had to time it right. It's risky with the pandemic, but we were both craving the social experience of going out to eat and listening to live music. We knew that if we had good prices, great entertainment, delicious food, and a great overall vibe, people would come. I think we've hit the timing just right, with the pandemic winding down and restrictions relaxing again, and I believe it will pay off for us. Obviously we aren't fully out of the woods, but we're very optimistic and confident in our advantage here.
The pandemic also presents some advantages to us. People are itching to get back out and see live music, and we were able to negotiate a very fair deal with our lease that allows us more flexibility if things do go South again.
(14:57) Let's check out the take-out entrance!
We've taken part of the entrance to the space, and converted it into a take-out section that makes it easier to grab orders to go and get pizza-by-the-slice. Here, customers can come and get a hot slice with fresh ingredients and extra cheese, and enjoy off-sales of alcohol. Grab a slice and enjoy our Sea Change SOHO-LOCO while you're at it! We'll be using this space to capitalize on the foot traffic of our location and get people eating out pizza.
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