When Josh Walker had the opportunity last summer to purchase the historic Halloren Building at the corner of Fourth and Main streets in downtown Ottawa, he didn’t hesitate.
For as long as Walker can remember, he’s had a fondness for the commercial space.
When the structure was constructed in 1923, it had a simple purpose. Unlike the other neighboring buildings dotting the downtown landscape, the brick building would serve as a factory. But eventually, that would change.
Through the years, it had many lives as homes to Reinhart Motor Co., Price Motor Co., Mode O’Day clothing store and Pence & Bales IGA. Since the 1950s, the Halloren has been a professional building, featuring several office suites. It remained that way until Walker decided to buy the property last August
“At the time, it was a professional building,” Walker said. “I started kicking around different ideas that would benefit the community and the downtown area and maintain the integrity of such an historic building. It’s on such a prominent corner, and it has a unique architecture when you compare it with the rest of the downtown.”
Walker originally decided to put a coffee shop in the space, but that idea evolved into something much bigger. And on Saturday, Walker will open the Corner Market, a modern, casual space featuring a full-service coffee shop, cafe and cocktails. The Corner Market takes a nod from its grocery store roots from the barn door and industrial touches to the brown butcher-block paper that accompanies most of the menu items.
“For me, I put a lot of thought and effort into making this a really awesome space,” he said. “We’ve created this from scratch, and it’s continued to evolve into something pretty great.”
The Corner Market features coffee and smoothies as well as Hugo Tea, a special, loose-leaf variety. There’s also fountain drinks, bottled water and iced tea. The breakfast menu features an assortment of grab-and-go items as well as Meshuggah Bagels, which are baked daily in Kansas City. For lunch or supper, the menu offers a variety bagelwiches, grilled sandwiches, salads as well as the soup of the day. There’s also snacks and appetizers, including toasted ravioli, flatbreads, chips and dips, which are perfect for noshing, or to complement an after-work cocktail.
The full-service bar features three local beers on-tap as well as an assortment of bottled varieties. There’s also top-shelf liquors as well as 10 signature cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a gin and tonic as well as the Corner Market’s takes on a margarita or a martini. Wine and seasonal cocktails are also available.
The restaurant seats around 50 customers, plus has additional seating outside on the patio.
“We feature menu items that you can’t find around here,” Walker said. “I think it will make a great brunch spot.”
Once the business settles into a groove, it will start roasting coffee beans in-house, Sacha Dodson, Corner Market general manager, said.
“Eventually, we’ll be embarking on that journey,” she said.
In addition to the restaurant, the building also houses an art gallery, which is connected to the dining room. Local photographer John Gladman will be curating the art for the gallery space, Walker said. The Gallery at the Halloren will feature the works of two local artists simultaneously, and will change every two months. The space is also available for rental.
The multipurpose building will also eventually feature a few more surprises, including University of Ottawa student housing on the upper level, and additional office space for local businesses. Renovation work on the building, Walker said, should wind up next spring, but students won’t occupy the upstairs housing area until Fall 2020.
“I’ve just always had an affinity for the building,” he said. “When I had the opportunity to buy, it was an opportunity to give back to the community.”
The Corner Market opens for business on Saturday. Business hours are from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, check out the business’ Facebook page or go to www.cornermarketks.com.