I must have walked by Margret dozens of times during the three years that I lived in the Junction , always wondering what the tiny, inconspicuous red neon lit sign that read Margret in the window actually meant. A couple years ago it was a seedy gambling/hooker den by the name of Common Ground, so it wasn't a stretch of the imagination that this was either an advertisement for, or at least a remnant of, a former employee.
Then last summer curiosity finally caused me to venture in and I was immediately mad at myself for not going sooner (although, Margret did only open about a year and a half ago). First of all, a bartender/DJ was sitting behind the turn tables spinning everything from Roy Orbison to Tone Loc, a black and white film was playing silently on the projection screen at the back wall, and the mismatched furniture straight from your parent's rec room was full of a solid representation of everyone that lived in the Junction - hipsters drinking tall cans of beer, grimy artists in the corner sectional, likely from the Academy of Realist Art next door, pants still covered in paint, and a table of women in their 40's and 50's with glasses of wine.
I've since moved from the Junction but thought it would be worth the trip back to see how things changed. It was nice to see that they hadn't. The decor was still the same - one wall, bare concrete minus what looks like a few vinyl bomber jets ironed on to it. The other wall a full on shrine to ever yard sale an 80-year-old couple has ever had. Think dog portraits, lots of them, painted on canvas, on black velvet and even crocheted into blankets. They're mixed in with a thorough assortment of pictures of Mack trucks, eagles' heads and of course your poor man's Group of Seven landscapes. And that's just the start.
One of the owners, Chris Brown, a 37-year-old music producer, prides himself on his yard-saling and value-villaging techniques, and is constantly adding to the kitsch wall. The effect is surprisingly pleasing in that "it looks cool because it's not trying too hard" sort of way.
If Brown and co-owner Jill Rooksby bought Margret with the goal to create a cool bar that had the vibe of your favourite perverted uncle who still lives at home in the basement but has a wicked vinyl collection (and I mean that in the best way possible) then they've succeeded.
Not to mention there are plans for a fully licensed patio, just as soon as the permit is granted, and while they don't serve proper food per se, Brown says they will be serving things like grilled cheese, olives, and "anything under $3." And if all that sounds like what you're looking for in an up and coming neighbourhood bar, then Brown's plans to take out the taps in order to make more room for more tall boys (there are already at least a half dozen to choose from) make it that much more perfect.
Writing by Jesse Kinos-Goodin