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Owner of rock bar The Hideout says gentrification killing the Queen West buzz

Last Updated Sep 14, 2016 at 8:06 pm EDT

Tacos and espressos appear poised to replace screeching guitars and shooters at one of Queen Street West’s popular live music venues.

After a decade of rock n’ roll debauchery, The Hideout will close its doors for good after Halloween night, the victim of gentrification according to the bar’s co-owner, Dan Good.

Good says the building, at 484 Queen Street West, was sold in February and the new owner made it clear a live music venue wasn’t in their plans. Instead, Good says the new owners will move coffee and fast food chains into the location.

“They are leaning more towards high-end retail and bigger corporations,” Good told CityNews on Wednesday. “They are increasing the rents substantially. They’ve more than doubled, and their asking prices are not reflective of mom and pop small business owners. There are bigger corporations that will come in and pay these rents.”

“I believe the face of Queen West is changing dramatically,” Good says of the neighbourhood. “Stores that have been here 15 to 20 years are moving, bars are going under. It was known as a cool, hip, fun neighbourhood. I’m not sure if coffee shops and fast food take out joints are what people want to see around here but it is what it is.”

Just up the street at 640 Queen St. W., La Hacienda owner Janusz Barainezki says the same gentrification concerns were aired when the Tex-Mex restaurant moved into the area about 30 years ago.

“We made the neighbourhood popular, which drove the prices up and the process has been continuing,” he said. “Perhaps the greatest problem is the speed with which it progresses.”

When it comes to chain restaurants vying for a piece of the proverbial pie, Barainezki says consumers ultimately dictate which businesses thrive, and which ones die.

“If the community puts their wallets where their mouth is and supports their cherished independence and uniqueness, then chains will stand no chance. I personally don’t have a problem with it,” he adds. “They have a right to compete just like anybody else so bring it on.”

Area resident Helyna Aganov says balance is the key.

“I think it’s great that all the new places are opening up,” she said. “But it’s still nice to keep some of the historical places the way they are…that’s what gives (the neighbourhood) its charm and history.”

Jordan Whissell has recently opened up a women’s fashion store called Naked Bodyz on Queen West.

He says both new and established business owners deal with the same precarious financial situations.

“The rent now is crazy,” he states. “I’ve been here four months now and I’ve seen at least three stores open and close right across the street from us.”

When it comes to behemoth chains battling mom and pop shops, Whissell says it comes with the territory when a neighbourhood’s popularity soars.

“A&W does take away from the trendiness, but it might bring more customers around,” he reasons. “But Queen West is not Queen West like it used to be.”