Going Out

Early shows, lots of food, and a beautiful stage — Queen St. Fare brings something new to the live music scene

By day, it’s a 390-person capacity food hall with six local small plate vendors, a mixologist at the bar, and good coffee.

On late afternoons, evenings, and weekends, Queen St. Fare expands its offerings with live music. The entertainment side of things is organized by Jordan David, DJ, former bass player for The Love Machine, and rassembleur with the Music.Art.Ppl collective. We asked about his plans for the local live music scene.

Jordan David is planning the programming for Queen St. Fare. Photo by Hannah Holder. @holderphotograph

How are things going so far?
The space is big and we’re seeing what works sound-wise. We’ve been doing some acoustic and speaker treatment and dialing in to what we need to make it a world-class venue.

What is your plan for the space?
I envision an arts hub; a place for community to happen. My biggest vision is to make Queen St. Fare a space that’s open and welcoming with diverse programming.

Picture by @boomerbardia

You have been booking afternoon and early evening shows. What’s the plan?
We’re surrounded by office buildings, so I’ve been trying to connect the dots: How can we capture that crowd and maybe expose some acts to a newer audience? So far, it’s been really good. We’ve had happy hour programming from 4-7 p.m., jazz brunches, and midweek dance parties that start early.  People want to hang out and experience culture. That’s been a big focus: presenting and making sure it happens on a regular basis.

How do you know it’s working?
A big crowd is always a good sign that people are receptive to earlier entertainment options. Because of the shape of the space, groups of people could be sitting toward the back of the room, but still taking in what’s happening on stage; or they could be engaged with their group of co-workers, peers, and friends while grooving to a band or DJ.

What’s coming up?
We’re going to be doing Timekode special events with bigger Canadian acts, which will be a live show followed by the dance party. Look for a date with Bonjay in March. We’re looking at bringing in one of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not classic album shows. We will be a venue for the Ottawa Jazz Festival. And I have been hearing from people interested in hosting craft fairs and night markets.

What is the stage setup like?
We move the tables and chairs, and the railings come off to reveal a spacious stage that is a beautiful setup for bands. We have a beautiful board, light controller, and projection screen to transform it into a nightclub venue. Two Technics turntables are set up permanently for DJs.

Can you get food during the shows?
You sure can. Vendors are offering their full menu and we’re looking at a late-night menu as well. Think of it like being at a festival, but instead of food trucks there are permanent stalls.

Can you get food when there’s a show on if, say, you’re just popping in for a bite?
Because we’re a new space that a lot of people have yet to see, we invite anyone who’s curious to check it out. We do our best to inform folks when they arrive that there is a ticketed event happening. If folks want to support the artist, they can pay the door person or one of the staff members at Q Bar, which is located directly next to the stage. We’re big believers in the Pay What You Can model, so our ticketed events always have that option. We really just want people to come out and experience Queen St. Fare. If you’re just looking to have some snacks and drinks with friends, that’s totally fine with us.