After sitting empty for nearly a decade, the old store on the southwest corner of St. Charles Street and Maryhill Road in Maryhill is getting a facelift.
New owners Tara and George Kanellis are weeks away from opening Maryhill Market and have renovations in full swing from the floor to the ceiling.George’s family has been in the restaurant business for decades. His father founded Kitchener’s Golf Steak House and Seafood, but Tara is the mastermind behind the project.
“I have worked at Golf’s with George for 24 years, and now my kids will be in high school and it is something that I have always wanted to do,” she said, adding that the new market will be fulfilling a need in the community. “We don’t have much around here in the way of that. It is at least 15 minutes or more for something like milk or toilet paper.”
The pair are planning to have fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers, some coolers for pop and ice cream, a delicatessen counter with to-go sandwiches and anything else you might find in a corner store like milk and sugar. There are also plans for an outdoor patio on the St. Charles Street side of the building.
“We are thinking a general store but with fresh produce,” said Tara. “People also might want to wander down after dinner and get some ice cream.”
The owners are flexible about what they will keep in stock, however.
“Things might change and we will have to accommodate for what people are looking for, but that is the plan so far,” she said. “We know it is going to change based on what sells. We are open minded.”
So far, the community has been enthusiastic about the Maryhill Market since work began on the building.
“The community is amazing, and we have had such support, it is unbelievable. As soon as everyone found out that we were opening a little market-type store, they were right on board,” said Tara. “We just live down the street and it is nice to be part of a community. It is nice to have that small community feel. I didn’t grow up with that, and everyone here has been great. People keep dropping in and introducing themselves if we don’t already know them.”
The renovations have been extensive, but George says they are coming along. The couple are also doing their best to use local contractors as much as possible.
“The last three weeks have been plumbing, HVAC, all this stuff that you can’t see, and now the big changes are coming. The sign will be up, the asphalt will be new, it gets exciting when you start seeing that happening,” he said. “We have found some great tradesmen, and they are almost all local, and they have been great. They give you honest advice and they do a great job. The guys have been amazing.”
While digging down to re-lay the floor, contractors found some history beneath the old floor in artifacts and old newspapers from the 1930s with war headlines and advertisements for what are now vintage cars and clothing.
“We found some little tools and stuff. It used to be a blacksmith shop,” shared Tara. “Then the whole floor was filled. We had to dig up the hardwood and we saw just a couple papers and we were pretty excited, then we ripped up more of the floor and the whole place was filled. They are just so interesting, when you see how much a house cost, or how much a car was. It is the Globe and Mail mostly. We took them home and read them. A lot of things were the same though, it was surprising.”
The plan is to open in about a month if things keep progressing the way they have. The Kanellises have only owned the building since the end of March.
“We have just been at it, doing renovations, going, going, going, and we are hoping to be open in about five weeks, and we are hoping to do a grand opening in July,” said Tara.