The Canal Club's done a fair job of putting on concerts upstairs. But the downstairs restaurant has been pretty quiet.
"We couldn't offer the full extensive menu and couldn't get the people to run a full-service restaurant," admits Canal Club owner Ken Jacobs.
Now the space will get some new life with the addition of a Mio's pizza restaurant, which has recently opened downstairs under the name Mio's at the Canal Club. "They have a little more experience with [restaurants]," Jacobs says.
Mio's owner, Sam Beale, agrees. Mio's already has two locations in the West End and one in Mechanicsville, all of them apparently doing well enough to afford a fourth location in the Bottom.
Beale says he's off to a slow start at the Canal Club site, though he's installed new pool and foosball tables, and decked out a whole menu in Italian food that is available to Mio's and Canal Club patrons. Seems the construction taking place in his parking lot has kept customers away. But he says he's confident things will pick up. They almost have to, he says: "We've got kind of a captive audience upstairs."
But what about the well-established pizza establishment across the street? How do its owners feel about rivals moving in on their turf? After all, wasn't the Canal Club audience supposed to be Bottoms Up's captive audience?
Beale says he's had a long conversation with Bottoms Up owner Dirk Graham, which "ended amiably." "But I think [Graham] would prefer us not to open," he adds.
Graham could not be reached for comment. Beale says he thinks his restaurant will actually bring more customers to both businesses. "I don't think it damages the business," he says. "I think it brings more business to the corner. More is better than one."
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