Biz X Magazine July / August 2011 : Page 13

want to save 15% on an ad? visit BRINGING YOU UP TO SPEED ON THE LATEST BUZZ AROUND TOWN! Serial entrepreneur Mark Boscariol has never been one to set his targets low, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he aims to convert the old Willistead Restaurant at 1920 Wyandotte Street East into “the best Mexican restaurant in Canada.” The Willistead closed its doors in January after 33 years in business when the operators defaulted on a mortgage held by Chris Angelako . Boscariol and accomplished Chef Jonathan Reaume , also owner of Toscana Restaurant & Wine Bar , 3891 Dougall Avenue, purchased the property for $265,000 under power of sale. The new owners have applied for a liquor licence and the fast-paced Boscariol wants to finish “six-figure” renovations in time to open by late fall. The owners have scouted out premier Mexican restaurants in Chicago and Austin, Texas. Boscariol notes that Mexican Village in Detroit is not one of his models. He wants the décor to be “rich in culture and more than orange walls and sombreros.” Plans for a huge patio are included. Boscariol is impressed by what is happening in Olde Walkerville and wants his establishment to complement the efforts of Vito Maggio , who is packing them in at Vito’s Pizzeria and O’Maggio’s Kildare House . One of the questions left unanswered in the business plan for the city’s pending $66.3 million aquatics centre downtown is whether or not it will be managed and operated by city staff or outsourced. The YMCA is mentioned as a possible operating partner. To that end, there was a letter from Dan Pelletier , CEO of the YMCA of Windsor and Essex County, in the package reviewed by City Council on June 13. Pelletier expresses interest in the possibilities, noting recent successes the YMCA has experienced in collaborating with municipalities in managing recreation facilities in London, Hamilton, Markham and Chatham. The Oct. 12, 2010 letter to the city is obviously dated, since Pelletier has since accepted a generous severance package and the regional facility at 500 Victoria Street is now operating under a six-month management agreement by the London YMCA. Shaun Elliott from London is now the top dog, and his Y will decide later this year on a permanent merger with Windsor. Pelletier, 51, tells Biz X that he parted company with the Y after a 27 year career under amiable terms. “I’m looking for work,” he says, noting that he didn’t re-locate to another host YMCA city because he considers Windsor home after 10 years here. Pelletier says the recent management shuffle at the local Y does not rule out an aquatics partnership with the city. The YMCA pool is “in rough shape,” and it is a candidate for closure once the new aquatics centre opens in two years. It’s a virtual given that the University of Windsor pool will also close at that time. Mayor Eddie Francis says the new Big Box Aquatics Centre will not be a tourist attraction. By saying that now, he gets himself off the political hook if the facility doesn’t attract Americans, and he can take the credit if it does. We do know that the Mayor is on record as saying the $66.3 million complex will be “massive,” and that it will include a 50 metre Olympic-sized pool that can be used as two 15 metre pools encompassing 20 lanes, a 10 lane, 25 metre pool and diving well. It will also include water slides, a wave pool, a therapy pool and other unnamed amenities. It is projected to be subsidized by taxpayers up to $1.8 million per year. The Mayor has shelved earlier comparisons to Great Wolf Lodges in Niagara Falls and Sandusky, Ohio as well as Kalahari , also in Ohio, privately held tourist attractions. A high-level source at the Niagara Falls Great Wolf Lodge tells Biz X that the cost to the Pattison Group of building the indoor water facility, in 2006, was “north of $125 million.” Great Wolf includes a hotel, featuring 13 water slides, seven swimming pools and is exclusive to guests of the lodge only. Asked about the wisdom of building a competing complex in Windsor, the source noted that Windsor is within four hours of Niagara, Sandusky and Traverse City competi-tors, and expressed doubts that the population base and tough economy would support a Windsor tourist complex considering “a full and vibrant Detroit” no longer exists. The WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC), at its first annual meeting under CEO Ron Gaudet on June 16, reported a $594,712 surplus in its 2010 Financial Statements. Gaudet tells Biz X that the money will be spent on a three year campaign to market Windsor Essex regionally, nationally and to a lesser degree internationally as a place to live, work, invest and play. The WEEDC Board, at its March 20, 2010 meeting, agreed with Gaudet’s suggestion to plan a surplus of $600,000 to be used for that purpose. The campaign, using local marketing firms, will be rolled out in the fall and will target print and social media. The advertising will highlight Windsor-Essex’s recent ranking among the top seven smartest municipalities in the world, according to the New York based Intelligence Community Forum (ICF). Windsor taxpayers contributed $1,380,798 to WEEDC in 2010, compared to $971,530 for Essex County. In May, City and County councils also contributed $60,000 each to the Windsor Essex Active Retirement Community Initiative, adminis-tered by WEEDC, to market the region as an affordable and attractive place to live in retirement. Gaudet told the annual meeting gathering at Willistead Manor that he recognized when he was hired last February that “We needed to start using the word ‘Region’.” Alluding to the mass resignations of the boards of directors of WEEDC and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island in the recent past, he noted that “we can’t continue to allow these key organizations to implode.” X BIZ X MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2011 13

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