After years of working in the high-tech offices of the modern communications industry, Chris Short made his big career move — to serving ale in a cottage.
Not just any cottage. But Scarborough’s 142-year-old homestead, the Olde Stone Cottage Pub.
Today, Short and his wife Beth are proud new owners of the pub at the intersection of Kingston and Scarborough Golf Club roads.
“I’ve always loved the Olde Stone Cottage from a conceptual point of view,” says Short. “It has its own intrinsic charm.”
Short formerly worked for nearly two decades in interactive marketing, web management and consulting for companies like Rogers Communications, but he found himself fed up with the industry.
“I wanted to find something different to do in my life,” he says.
Short found out the pub was for sale and, given his experience as a marketer, saw the untapped potential of the Olde Stone Cottage.
“I live in the Guild and if I want to go out for an appetizer and a beer with my wife I have to go eight to 10 kilometres. As a consumer that bothers me and I know that there’s a whole middle-class population here that’s got that same problem.”
He took over management of the Olde Stone Cottage Pub on July 22. A month later, he threw himself into renovations, closing the place for only three days for dry-walling, painting, sanding the floors, and installing more comfortable chairs.
Short says a connection to the community is very important and the pub can draw a bigger crowd by filling a consumer need. “It’s not going to be a fine dining establishment — it’s going to be a comfortable, cozy, friendly mid-end pub with great food and great value.”
One of the first things he did, knowing the menu needed updating, was hire a chef consultant. They now offer classic pub fare like beer battered fish and chips, while also claiming to serve the best wings in the GTA. They also offer a variety of sandwiches, pastas and salads for the more health conscious.
Short has also expanded the wine list and beer selection. Since customers had been asking for different brands of beverages, the pub no longer exclusively carries Labatt products, having added several Molson and local independent beers, such as Creemore and Mill St.
Also new to the Olde Stone Cottage is Saturday night entertainment. Short is now hosting standup comedy nights one Saturday a month, Ultimate Fighting Championship parties one Saturday a month, and live bands for the remaining two Saturdays.
However, Short has also kept the pub’s old charm, which comes from being designated a historical building by the Heritage Canada Foundation. He’s getting a city grant to preserve the building’s architectural authenticity with 19th-century-style moulding.
The Olde Stone Cottage was the second homestead built in Scarborough in 1867.
The private second-floor VIP party room is rumoured to be haunted by the builder of the homestead, Jerimiah Annis.