Sydney food and beverage baron Danny Ellis building outdoor dining room-lounge on waterfront
Boardwalk eatery will be something different.
If you’ve ever grabbed a drink in downtown Sydney, chances are Danny Ellis was involved at some point.
He’s the Daniel in Daniel’s. He started the Capri. He built Governors. And he’s a former founding partner in the Old Triangle.
Now Ellis is adding another name to that list: the Portside.
The Sydney food and beverage baron is in the midst of constructing what he says will be “nicest outdoor deck” in town.
“This is the nicest view in Sydney,” Ellis said Wednesday during a walk around the site between the former Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club and the cruise ship terminal. “You’re looking at the cruise ships, you’re looking at the iconic Big Fiddle. We’re right down on the waterfront, there’s boats coming and going. It’s an awesome sight. I love it.”
While it’s inspired by the beer gardens in Halifax and Charlottetown, the Portside, which Ellis said will be open Sept. 1 or sooner, will differ in a few key ways. The combination outdoor dining room-lounge will feature Nova Scotia wines and spirits, authentic lobster dinners, and a selection of beer from local breweries, all served on 300-seat deck overlooking the harbour.
Perhaps most important, there won’t be port-a-potties. The single-level, fully accessible facility, which will end up at around 2,400 square feet, has five sections, including two large washrooms, a kitchen, a walk-in cooler and wall of beer taps, and a stage.
Ellis said the idea for the Portside began with a conversation he had with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality about a year ago.
“They’re open for business and they want to locate things and activities for tourists,” he said. “They want to enhance the boardwalk, and what can I contribute? I know food and beverage.”
Ellis is leasing the 6,000-square-foot property from the CBRM from June 1 to Oct. 30, with an option to renew that must go to council to approve for up to five years. His company paid $1 for the month of June and will pay $1,000 plus HST a month from July to October.
Ellis said because the Portside is modular and doesn’t have a foundation, it can be moved anytime without affecting the taxpayer-owned property.
“We’re not leaving a footprint here. We’re not destroying anything. We’re basically a parking lot,” he said, adding that he believes the public, like the CBRM, will be pleased with the final result.
“I’m not a new operator — I’ve been around a long time. They’re comfortable what’s going to be here will be properly run, properly maintained, and will be a benefit — not a detriment — to the cruise business and the general public.”
Despite all of his experience, Ellis said the Portside represents a first for him.
“I’ve never built something with all outdoor seating, and with Cape Breton weather being what it is, I’m not holding my breath that the weather is gong to co-operate when we get open,” he said. “Hopefully the weather will be more favourable than not.”
Danny Ellis stands in front of the Portside in Sydney on Wednesday. Ellis is building an outdoor dining room-lounge on a municipally owned property between the former Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club and the cruise ship terminal.