Senators launching ByWard Market sports bar

David Sali
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The Battle of Ontario is officially spilling over from the arena into the tavern.

The new Sens House Sports Bar and Grill will open next month at the site of the former Hard Rock Cafe in the ByWard Market.

The Ottawa Senators announced Tuesday the NHL team is partnering with local bar and restaurant group OttawaVenues to open Sens House Bar and Grill, a 250-seat venue at the site of the former Hard Rock Cafe at 73 York St. in the ByWard Market.

The 5,000-square-foot restaurant is located just a block from Real Sports Bar and Grill, which is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

The Sens and Leafs might have an intense rivalry on the ice, but both the Senators and OttawaVenues downplayed the potential competition between the bars when contacted by the OBJ. Management at Real Sports was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.

“I think we offer something totally different than what they offer,” said Steve Monuk, a partner in OttawaVenues, adding he prefers to think of the newest entry to the Market’s bar scene as a complement to Real Sports. “The (nine-by-16-foot projection) screen that we’re getting is supposed to be second to none.”

Mike Wallace, the Senators’ senior director of marketing, said the team has been eyeing potential partners in such a venture since 2009, well before Real Sports announced it was coming to Ottawa.

He said OttawaVenues, a group of 12 ByWard Market bars and restaurants that includes Fat Tuesdays and Pub101, will oversee the day-to-day operations of Sens House, while the two organizations will work together on marketing and promotions.

“It seemed to be a perfect fit for what we wanted to do,” said Mr. Wallace, who declined to discuss specifics of the business relationship and wouldn’t reveal the total cost of the project. “We’re viewing this truly as a partnership.”

The second-floor space is expected to be finished by mid-June with a targeted opening of before Canada Day. When completed, the restaurant will boast another eye-popping feature besides the big screen a 1,500-square-foot patio covered by a state-of-the-art retractable roof.

Manufactured by Connecticut-based Roll-A-Cover International, the roof will be the first of its kind in Canada, Mr. Monuk said.

“That seemed to be something that was brand new and not done anywhere else around here,” he said. “That particular patio going back to the Hurley’s days (another previous bar at the York Street location) was one of most popular places in the city of Ottawa. We looked for something new and innovative to bring it back to those days.”

The Senators will also have a merchandise outlet in the restaurant. Mr. Wallace said it’s all part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to enhance the game-day experience for fans.

“The reality is that sometimes our fans can’t always get to every game, so this provides us the best experience for a Sens fan if you’re not at the rink,” he said.

“We’re about building a brand. One of the things we want to do is continue to develop that fan experience. Having a bar that’s basically in the heart of the ByWard Market provides us that great opportunity to reach those fans as well.”

Mr. Monuk’s group bought the former Hard Rock property two years ago. The iconic theme restaurant shut down last September after 17 years at the location.

Organizations: Ottawa Senators, NHL, Sens House Bar Hard Rock Cafe OBJ

Geographic location: York Street, Ottawa, Canada

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Recent comments

  • valerie
    August 05, 2014 - 13:21

    WOW, the service sucked, the beer CO tank ran out, we went dry, no drinks for the table for too long. Now if i were the management there would have been a complimentary appetizer or round of (get this only one brand of beer, whom i refuse to mention the name of) draft. So non of us 15 will go back. And the witresses spend there whole shift pulling their too short body sox down to cover their tushes. I am sure the guys don't mind, but seriously too close to harass for me...then they serve us, gross! Also got double charged for a round on the way out. But i liked the furniture, big screen with Aussi rules. 15.00 for a mediorce hamburger is too much money. But we saw the expensive roof open and close. and someone is going to trip into the restaurant stairs...weird ramps but not for wheel chairs. Sigh a retired waitress.

  • Bob Brown
    May 27, 2014 - 16:58

    It appears the Ottawa Senators are willing to lend its name and capital to a wheelchair inaccessible restaurant in the byword market