Rentals may stave off Gladstone Theatre sale

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
May 2, 2011 (May 3 on

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Theatre to stay for-profit; owners hope to produce shows again eventually

The Gladstone is one of the few for-profit theatres in the country.
Photo by PETER KOVESSY for the
Ottawa Business Journal.

Not only is “Rent” the title of a hit Broadway musical, but appropriately, it may also be what keeps The Gladstone theatre in business.

Half a year after putting the quaint property at 910 Gladstone Ave. up for sale with a $1.5-million asking price, owners Steve Martin and Marilisa Granzotto are contemplating the possibility of taking the building off the market due to the success they’ve had with renting out the space.

“We’re probably not going to renew with the realtor,” says Ms. Granzotto, noting the arrangement expires in roughly 60 days. “Or we’ll renew one more time and let the fall season that’s being developed right now be completed. Any pending sale will be conditional on that and happen after the fall season.”

Ms. Granzotto says she and Mr. Martin are putting the finishing touches on agreements with local theatre groups such as Plosive Productions and SevenThirty Productions that want to use the Gladstone to produce their work for an entire season, bringing in a steady stream of income for the two owners.

The pair has also taken rentals from church groups, musical acts, schools, comedians and bands in search of rehearsal space – all of which is helping them gradually pay down their debts.

“We’ve stopped the bleeding,” Ms. Granzotto says. “We’re not incurring greater debt; we have past debt but it’s not increasing.”

As one of the few for-profit theatres in the country, the Gladstone faced an uphill battle in its struggle to balance production and operational costs with ticket prices and sales, and the limits of the building’s capacity. Unlike groups and venues such as Arts Court, the Shenkman Arts Centre, and the Great Canadian Theatre Co. – which itself occupied 910 Gladstone Ave. for 25 years – the Gladstone took no Continue reading →

Dance master

Published in the May 2011 issue of Ottawa Magazine.
(May 13 on the Ottawa Magazine website)

Click here to view this article on (Published as: “FROM THE PRINT EDITION: Dance instructor Raza Moghal struts his stuff at the Tulip Festival).

Raza Moghal and France Trottier
Instructor Raza Moghal with dance partner France Trottier.
Ottawa Magazine.

Meet Raza Moghal of Salsa Connectica, a dance class that includes lessons on social etiquette, understanding body language, and other tips on how to make an impression on the dance floor. After a successful nine-month run at Mambo Nuevo Latino and a series at Ashbury College, the charismatic Toronto native talks about bringing his unique brand of social innovation to the Canadian Tulip Festival.

You’re trained in business and urban planning; how does dance fit in?
I did a graduate diploma in green and socially responsible business, and fundamentally it’s about creating value, allowing you to reach fresh markets. Since I’m new to the city, I asked, “How do I offer something new and get people’s attention?” My value proposition is, essentially, trying to help people connect.

How is Salsa Connectica different from other dance classes?
It’s still mostly a dance class, but it’s about 10 per cent etiquette and 10 per cent social awareness theory. I’m making the implicit explicit. I’m talking about building chemistry and rapport and how to create the connection that’s beyond the physical. I use dance as a forum for that.

How does social dance compare with the dancing people are already doing?
Latin music is romantic and lets us connect with Continue reading →

Fashionably late?

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal and on its website.
May 18, 2009 (May 20 on

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An OBJ reporter joins the search for a popular retailer and other peddlers of fashionable wares

Ever since those surreal television commercials began airing in March, depicting a curly-haired blond and swarthy suit-clad man in rooms with ladders and Alice-in-Wonderland doors, I’ve been one of many Ottawans wondering if Swedish fashion retailer H&M is close to opening its first store in the nation’s capital.

Local retail industry observers have been buzzing about the possibility for years, and devoted Facebookers – yours truly included – have bombarded H&M’s discussion boards with pleas to bring the store to Ottawa, especially in the wake of new openings in smaller cities such as Peterborough, Ont. and Dartmouth, N.S.

Posted one online commenter: “Ottawa’s … full of young government workers who have loads of disposable income, and not one store … It’s almost insulting … Maybe one day Ottawa will be deemed ‘worthy.'”

It seems the time is nigh considering that Continue reading →

Sushi sensation

Published in the Fall/Winter 2008 edition of Ottawa At Home Magazine.

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Baked Scallop RollChef Bento Sushi’s
Baked Scallop Roll.

Take a tour of Ottawa’s favourite sushi restaurants

For most lovers of food from faraway lands, sushi is no longer just scary scraps of raw fish that you have to fumble to pick up with your chopsticks.

In fact, it isn’t uncommon to find your standard – but unfortunately oh-so-blah – California roll and salmon sushi at the local supermarket or mall food court. But where can serious sushi samplers in search of more exotic fare find those oases of Zen in Ottawa? Sushi fanatic Krystle Chow went on the hunt for places that tantalize and tempt her taste buds and found these five favourites. Continue reading →

Young filmmakers focus on success through the lens

Published as an Arts Editorial in Centretown News.
Oct. 14, 2005

It’s film festival season in Ottawa, and there has never been a better time to be a filmmaker.

Amateur filmmakers are getting involved in what was once considered an elite art form.

And it looks like the lure of movie-making magic has captivated the younger generation as well.

Youth filmmakers – those who are younger than 30 years of age – are getting a chance to get their hands dirty as film production equipment becomes cheaper and more readily available. Continue reading →

Are Canadian jazz artists being left out of the spotlight?

Published as an Arts Editorial in Centretown News.
Sept. 30, 2005

The Ottawa International Jazz Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and is just beginning its winter lineup.

On its website, organizers tout the festival as having the “biggest loyal audience of any event in eastern Ontario” and boast about the big-name acts the festival has brought to the Ottawa stage.

But have we forgotten our homegrown talents in the quest for bright lights and big box office hits? Continue reading →

A Brazilian all-you-can-eat BBQ

Published on page 13 of the Weekend section of The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
January 3, 2004

Cards on the table tell the passador (above) if you want seconds. He will then carve the meat or fish at your table.Cards on the table tell the passador (above) if you want seconds. He will then carve the meat or fish at your table.

One may be inclined to think of football, and perhaps samba, when one thinks of Brazil, but what about good food?

If you’re looking to discover Brazilian cuisine and culture for yourself, head on down to Bom Brazil Churrascaria (pronounced cho-khas-ca-khria, which with the rest of the restaurant’s name means “Good Brazilian Barbecue”), nestled in the cluster of elegant eateries and trendy taverns that is Changkat Bukit Bintang.

Step in and you will notice the distinctly informal ambience of the restaurant, from its tables – gaily decorated in the colours of the Brazilian flag – to the soccer paraphernalia that adorns its walls (soccer is, after all, an institution in Brazil), to the curious dolls and figurines on display, each with their own story.

Adding to this charming informality is the fact that there is no menu, since the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet of barbecued meats that would make the most carnivorous of individuals ecstatic.

Not big on meat? Not to worry as Bom Brazil offers a selection of salads and pasta in the buffet, including the delightful Brazilian dish of rice topped with tapioca shavings (or feijoada) and red beans in a light sauce.

However, the restaurant’s true specialty is the barbecue, and sampling Bom Brazil’s tender cuts of beef and other meats is an absolute must.
Continue reading →

Penang fare after midnight

Published on page 14 of the Weekend section of The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
June 28, 2003

Penang Inn offers more than the swaying palm trees and hawker fare conjured up by its name.

Tucked away in a trendy corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail, the restaurant’s cool decor and serene ambience offers some respite from the heat and energy of KL’s clubs. In fact, its operating hours are tailored to hungry clubbers in search of some tasty grub.

Not only can you expect hearty favourites from the Pearl of the Orient, but also such delights as Continue reading →

Review: Peter Brown – Marie-Claude (Maboose Muse)

Published in the Arts section of The Charlatan.
Apr. 3, 2003

Peter Brown’s Marie-Claude is an album of irresistibly good music, which can either rest on the musical palate like a sinful slice of dark chocolate cake or a comforting spoonful of warm honey. From the deliciously smooth “Cape Verdean Blues” to the mischievous honky-tonk of his vocal tracks, to his remarkably simple yet lyrical arrangement
of “Amazing Grace,” Brown charms with his elegant piano playing and eclectic style.

This guy plays a mean piano, and he’s backed by an excellent jazz/blues band that keeps pace perfectly with Brown’s clever musical improvisations.

It’s impossible to pigeonhole the album into one particular genre, as it flirts with jazz, blues, Latin and even country music. While Brown’s voice seems shaky on some tracks, it has a warm, pleasant quality which particular suits the bluesy feel on tracks like “These Blues You Gave Me.”

Making art accessible to all

Published in the Arts section of The Charlatan.
Mar. 6, 2003

The Bytown Art Group provides a way for low-income and homeless people to create art. But will funding cuts bring the project to an end?

A “deliciously diverse” fine arts group that helps homeless and low income people create art has had its future thrown into jeopardy because of recent funding cuts.

Danielle Raymond says the Bytown Art Group primarily consists of people who are “challenged to purchase art materials,” but it also works with new Canadians, seniors, and art lovers in general. The group provides a space for its members to work and supplies to create their art. Continue reading →