Vancouver-Based Sing Sing Beer Bar Concept to Expand into Ontario Market with 2nd Location [Interview]


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The unique Sing Sing Beer Bar concept, based in Vancouver, is expanding to other parts of the country with a new location at First Canadian Place in downtown Toronto.

“It’s called Sing Sing Beer Bar which maybe doesn’t give it enough justice because it’s really diverse in its product offering,” said Harrison Stoker, Chief Growth Officer for the Donnelly Group which operates Freehouse Collective. “We opened the first one here in Vancouver on Main Street (in 2019) to quite a bit of acclaim.”

Freehouse manages and operates a number of dining and drinking brands.

Bar at Sing Sing Restaurant in Vancouver. Photo: Sing Sing.
Harrison Stoker

“Interestingly enough through the pandemic, where most of our businesses were deeply challenged, Sing Sing was the one for us that actually grew both in revenues and popularity which is really great,” said Stoker.

“For that reason, it’s given us the confidence to give it to some new neighbourhoods and that’s why we’re bringing it to Toronto. It’s a restaurant and pub and bar all folded into one and it’s predicated on this idea of beer, pho and pizza, which are all very complementary in their own respects and together.

“It’s food designed to make you want to drink beer and beer designed to make you want to eat food.”

Sing Sing Restaurant in Vancouver. Photo: Sing Sing.

Stoker said Freehouse does aspire to open more Sing Sings.

The Toronto location, he said, will be open by or before the summer.

Stoker said the company has some experience in Toronto’s Financial District. It has a pub called Walrus in the area. 

“Where we really specialize is in inheriting second-hand spaces and re-imagining them and so the Duke of Westminster space was available and it’s actually really unique in its layout, a challenge if you will,” said Stoker. “And I think we’re sort of suckers for those kinds of challenges.

To-Go menu at Sing Sing Restaurant in Vancouver. Photo: Sing Sing.

“We found that space. It had great availability. It had a lot of history which we love and it was going to be a really unique challenge for us to reinterpret it as a Sing Sing. I think we’ve sort of rose to the occasion. We also had a real tremendous appetite to bring Sing Sing into a finance district, into a metropolitan centre, because long-term we’ll take it into more suburban neighbourhoods. But we first wanted to introduce it to the financial core, the metropolitan core, where we believe a lot of people are working and then they go back to their suburban neighbourhoods. That will be the next step – to bring that Sing Sing brand into suburban neighbourhoods.”

Grilled Cheese Appetizers at Sing Sing Restaurant in Vancouver. Photo: Sing Sing.

Stoker said the plan is to expand the brand eventually to other cities with plenty of growth potential in Ontario.

“We’ve got a lot of really good momentum with our brands. The idea is to double down on a few that we can scale,” he said.

Freehouse worked with Beauleigh Retail Consultants to secure the First Canadian Place location.

“Our team has been working with Freehouse Collective for some time, trying to find the right location within our portfolio and we’re excited to finally be able to announce that Sing Sing is coming to Toronto’s financial core from Vancouver,” said Taylor Borg, Director of Leasing and Development for Beauleigh.

Taylor Borg

“They will join the extraordinary roster of food and beverage operators at First Canadian Place. We felt the offering of pho, pizza and craft cocktails would be dynamic, and a one-of-a-kind in the city while adding to the F&B mix at First Canadian Place, which continues to draw a younger demographic, representative of the clientele in the financial core and the surrounding residential population. 

“Along with Black + Blue Steakhouse, Sing Sing will be a welcome addition to flagship restaurants such as Cactus Club, King Taps, and Reds (which will undergo a full renovation this summer) already anchoring First Canadian Place and the Exchange Tower.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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