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RETALES: Dartmouth partners pair wine and cocktails at new bar, Dear Friend

Photo to go with business story on The Clever Barkeep in Dartmouth.
Matt Boyle, left, and Jeff Van Horne, co owners of the Clever Barkeep and new wine and cocktail bar Dear Friend. - Contributed

“Taverns have had a strange history of succeeding when coming out of recession,“ says Matt Boyle, who is opening wine and cocktail bar Dear Friend this week with partner Jeffrey Van Horne.

The two mixologists have already been operating cocktail catering company The Clever Barkeep, and they needed a place to house their business.

“Also (to) showcase what we do well: wine, cocktails and hospitality” says Boyle, who has leased a space at 67 Portland St. in downtown Dartmouth.

The Clever Barkeep will continue to cater events, consult on projects and run its annual cocktail festival Drink Atlantic. Dear Friend, however, gives them a home, one with a focus, “which is celebrating friendship, community with great wine and cocktails.”

Dear Friend will have wine and carefully crafted cocktails, as well as other beverages and a small plates selection to snack on while you have drinks.

I asked Boyle about opening a bar at this challenging time. “People are craving a safe place to enjoy a beverage and connect again (even from a distance) with their community,” he said. “We think there is a difference between trying to open and reopen. Not sure which one is easier, but we’re optimistic about opening now. There is definitely a risk with the threat of a second wave, and we’re cognizant of that, but we’re not strangers to taking a risk in the business world. It’s basically now a practise of daily assessments and being very careful to make sure our staff and patrons are safe above all else.”

Boyle is also ready to sing the praises of Dartmouth.

“There is no other city where we could imagine starting our first bar,” he says of the place where he and Van Horne grew up. “We are super proud to call ourselves Dartmouthians and want to add something special to the city. “

They have already had a couple preview nights with friends to test things out, and are planning to open on Thursday

Here are some more retail highlights and happenings:

Tween-focused clothing store Justice is closing its Dartmouth store at the end of this month. Justice is part of the American-owned Ascena Retail Group, which has been downsizing and seen a reduction of stores across North America in its sister brands Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and Loft. In 2019 Ascena also closed all of its Dress Barn locations and sold off the Maurices clothing chain of stores to new investors.

Two weeks ago, supplement chain GNC announced that it would be closing 29 of its 200 Canadian locations, and released a list of the stores and no Nova Scotia stores were affected. However, late last week the Halifax Shopping Centre, Cole Harbour, Yarmouth and Mayflower Mall locations all began store-closing procedures.

Mun’cheez Pizza Mart and convenience is now open at the top of Montebello Drive in Dartmouth.

Peelers Potatoes has taken up a semi-permanent spot on the corner of Sackville Drive and Armoyan Drive. The fry truck is offering standard truck fare like fries, rings, hot dogs, fish and chips, and poutine.

What’s your favorite Peelers food item? Fish&Chips? Peelers fries? Onion Rings? Or our Italian Cheese sausage? Come see...

Posted by Peelers Potatos on Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Spryfield and Lower Sackville locations of the Salvation Army Thrift Store have closed permanently.

The Tartan Tea House on Bedford Highway won’t be returning, and the space is for lease.

Signs are up on Lacewood Drive for South Asian focused Shahi Groceries. They plan to open first week of August near McDonald’s, in the former longtime home of The Last Game Store.

District 5 Bar & Grill is now open on King Street in Downtown Dartmouth across from the old post office.

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