Work continues on reviving the historic Stephens and Yeaton garage and show room on Water Street in Windsor, and turn it into something a great deal more entertaining.
The property will be home to the new location of the James Roué Beverage Company, a once-defunct business Michael Oxner plans to revive.
However, “like the renovation of any 100-year-old building, it’s slow,” said Oxner, owner of the James Roué Beverage Company.
“Between permits and limited labour to be able to do some of the stuff we’re doing, it’s taking a while,” Oxner said.
Despite things not going as quickly as he would have liked, Oxner noted there has been some progress, with a new roof going on, and new windows, electrical wiring, and plumbing infrastructure on the way.
As far as openings are concerned, Oxner said, “we’re hoping to open the production area by the fall. The retail area and restaurant won’t be open until the new year.”
Oxner intends to have a retail store, cocktail bar and small plate restaurant all be part of the business as well.
When asked the reason for the delay for the latter two portions of the business, he replied, “most of it is regulatory and permits.”
“We have five guys working on it right now, but we have to pour a new concrete floor,” Oxner said. “It’s almost more work than building from scratch, preserving the character of the old building.”
But preserving the character of that building is something Oxner has deliberately set out to do.
“We’re resurrecting a historic Nova Scotia brand of alcoholic ginger beers, hard lemonades and non-alcoholic sodas and cordials,” Oxner said.
“From the packaging and branding to the building and ambiance of the facility, (it) is going to be based on the historical period,” he said.
“Even the furniture in the restaurant and retail are going to be antiques, period pieces from the 1920s and 30s.”
Oxner is taking this project on because he is a distant relative of the original owner. Oxner is the fourth generation to own the James Roué Beverage Company.
“It’s actually similar to the story of Sleeman’s, where his great-grandson found the original recipe book,” Oxner said. “I found two recipe books from the James Roué Beverage Company in the Nova Scotia Archives — they have a huge collection of historical bottles.”
Oxner said finding the old recipes was the inspiration for what he calls his “legacy brand.”
Although Oxner has been in the business of selling ingredients to distilleries, breweries and wineries for the last two decades, being on the beverage side of things, where he is selling the products of those ingredients, will be a departure from what he’s used to.
“I plan to use my years of experience and knowledge and connections together to relaunch this legacy brand,” he added.