Next St. Patrick’s Day, Kris Potts hopes to raise his glass in the Irish pub he and his brother are busy renovating at the corner of Gerrard Street and Bowmore Road.
Built in a former house at the end of a residential block, it has a fitting name: The Cornerhouse Irish Pub.
But before it can open, people in the neighbouring houses must vote yea or nay to a side patio along Bowmore.
The pub also needs a business license from the city. Potts applied for one in December, but he says it’s taking longer than expected,
“I thought it was going to be a walk in the park,” Potts said, noting that although the pub is in an area zoned residential, the site was recently home to McCarthy’s Irish Pub and, before that, Sedona Jane’s Café. The site has had a variance allowing for businesses to set up there since 1999.
But while many locals support the Cornerhouse, including the Beach Hill Neighbourhood Association, others object to once again having a pub on the block.
Last fall, seven residents testified to Ontario’s liquor license tribunal that the previous pub was a source of noise and drunken behaviour.
But the tribunal ruled in favour of the license, with conditions, noting that no one from the nearby Bowmore Road Public School nor a neighbouring daycare ever complained about McCarthy’s.
Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said at this point, she is waiting to see how residents vote in the patio poll.
If they vote against, she noted that the decision would likely be appealed to Toronto and East York Community Council.
“We want our streets animated, but we want to be respectful of residents, especially their sleep hours,” McMahon said. “So we need to find a happy medium.”
Potts said he has spoken at several public meetings about plans for the Cornerhouse. The first drew about 80 people, he said, and sometimes the debate has been heated.
But he also said he has collected 600 signatures in favour of the pub, which he hopes will become a popular family spot.
“We knew the building, we knew the area,” he said. “I mean, we are sixth-generation Beachers.”
Together, Kris and his brother run Norseman Construction, a home renovations company.
Despite their company name, and Kris’ own – Kristofer Norman Viking Potts – the two have Irish roots.
The first person in the Potts family to immigrate to Canada came from Ireland in 1913, and settled into a home on Hambly Avenue.
Besides the oak stairs, long bar, fireplace, wainscoting, and exposed beams they have built inside, Potts plans to hang some old family photos – like the one of his great, great-grandfather welcoming his sons back from the First World War.
“It reminds me of my parents’ living room,” he said. “That’s what it feels like.”
Along with his own construction background, Potts said the pub and its new kitchen will benefit from Kevin’s 20 years in managing restaurants for Marriott and Sheridan hotels.
The brothers also co-own the Cornerhouse with a couple from Donegal, Ireland, who will help manage it.
Potts is still hoping to see his dream pub open this spring, and said he bought the building next door for a possible expansion, if all goes well.
“We want to become a real restaurant,” he said. “Essentially, what we’re up against is a lot of bureaucracy that has tied us down.”