Big Daddy’s is back and, when you have a name that suggests such largeness, only a massive pair of scissors would do for its ribbon cutting at Monday's festive grand opening party.
The restaurant has returned to its old Elgin Street-area stomping grounds, taking over the dining space inside the Cartier Place Suite Hotel at 180 Cooper St. The celebrations stretched from late afternoon until well into the evening as party guests were treated to some New Orleans-style cooking, including Creole chicken, bacon-wrapped scallops, coconut shrimp, andouille sausage and sweet beignets, all washed down with alcoholic beverages.
Big Daddy Bourbon Street Bistro takes over the space previously filled by fine Italian dining restaurant Cafe Mezzaluna.
There used to be a Big Daddy's Crab Shack & Oyster Bar until it shut down its Elgin Street location in February 2012. It had been a favourite haunt of Markus Kosmos, one of the new owners, as well as Heidi Webster, who is the general manager and owner of Cartier Place Suite Hotel.
“This is the reason it’s back, we were such big fans of it — we love Big Daddy’s,” said Kosmos, who joked about the thousands of dollars in parking tickets that accumulated over the years while he was enjoying himself at Big Daddy's. He wasn’t one to drive around in circles, searching for a vacant spot to leave his car in the Elgin Street district, which is heavy with bars and restaurants. “I’m just hoping to get back some of the money that I spent there in the '90s.”
Good news: there's free parking for customers at the hotel (subject to availability.)
Webster and Kosmos both grew up in family businesses. Kosmos is the son of retired CFL player Mark Kosmos, who also co-founded the Local Heroes restaurant chain, while Webster is the daughter of architect Hans Stutz. He built the Cartier Place hotel, as well as designed the Queensway Carleton Hospital and Nepean Sportsplex.
Webster has been running Cartier Suites since 1989. Her son, Glenn Webster, 28, is the operations manager.
As for the construction work that’s going to hit Elgin Street next year, through to 2020, the pair remains optimistic that customers will still come, whether on foot or by car.
“We don’t think Elgin Street is going to shut down; it’s still going to still be lively here,” said Webster, while adding that management will be bringing back such popular Big Daddy traditions as Thursday happy hour.
Kosmos expressed his gratitude toward his friend, Whit Tucker, who dropped into the party earlier. The Ottawa businessman and retired Rough Riders player was part of the launch of the original Big Daddy's. A second location in Ottawa, at Fisher and Baseline, closed in July 2013 while the locations in Mississauga and Toronto are also gone.
“If it wasn’t for Whit Tucker, we wouldn’t have gotten the name,” said Kosmos, who also owns the High Fives Sports Pub in the Best Western in Bells Corners.
Attendees included Mayor Jim Watson, along with Councillors Tim Tierney and Allan Hubley in Mardi Gras party hats (that’s the spirit!). Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association, was among the guests.
The mayor presented a framed letter of congratulations from city council to Webster, Kosmos and his business partners, Chef Will Waterfield and Trevor Ford, before cutting the ribbon.
“The city is on a roll,” said Watson of the coming-soon light-rail transit, the stunning new Ottawa Art Gallery and the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards that's still fairly new to the scene. “It’s a great time to invest in our city.”