The Loft is an inconspicuous and friendly lounge, located right above Statlers restaurant in the heart of the Village on Church Street. If you stopped by a week ago, you would have found the space was a fully operational annex to Statlers. But Robert Borden, a long-time friend of proprietors Michael Macdonell and Rick Stubbert, has now bought and taken over the upstairs. The only thing that has changed, so far, is the name.
The Loft hopes to cater to a younger, more "upwardly mobile and professional" type of folk (as one bartender put it), rather than the older regulars who make up the downstairs clientele. Whether that will prove to be the case however, remains to be seen. With a bar like this -tons of regulars, an "everybody knows your name" style joint - they'll have their work cut out for them.
When I arrive on Thursday night, dance music is lightly pulsating in the background while a disco ball whips aquamarine light around the small room. Strikingly beautiful blown glass lights hang over the bar, looking oddly out of place in what otherwise appears to be a haphazardly designed lounge.
A few scattered white leather chairs provide the only respite from the modestly sized dance floor. In the corner, a covered pool table has been appropriated as a buffet of sorts. I find an array of snacks including cheezies and finger sandwiches for anyone brave enough to try them distributed across the table. A clear plastic jug on the floor overflows with a strand of glowing Christmas lights.
After having a good look around the room, I initially take the spot for a commonplace dive. But after chatting to the bartenders and some of the guys at the bar, I begin to understand the charm of The Loft: no pretension, no bullshit, just a bunch of chill dudes having a brew on a Thursday.
Though the patrons were exclusively men, I felt totally comfortable, even welcomed, as a straight female by myself. Everyone I encountered was super friendly, and the bartenders and I talked Britney Spears, the neighbourhood, and the snack situation for nearly an hour.
Borden proudly told me about his plans to make free chili on a weekly basis for Loft patrons. This will be a switch-up from the finger foods that are provided nightly. Anyone who comes in can just help themselves, grab a drink and relax.
From the evident camaraderie between bar-goers to the easy-going charm of Borden, The Loft is the place to be if you like your bars ultra-casual, a little kitschy, and with the occasional Britney track oozing into the dark, disco-ball lit night.