By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Two new local bar owners went from pouring the shots to calling them.
Since Vu NightSpot opened nearly two years ago in downtown Cornwall, city residents Matthew Girgis, 28, and Jamie Maracle, 30, have turned the location at 113 ½ Pitt Street from a revolving door of business mishaps into a popular hangout for thirsty young adults.
"I'm living my dream right now," said Girgis.
The best friends turned business partners are enjoying their freshly minted boss status, but neither of them could've guessed that starting from the bottom as servers would eventually take them to the top of Vu's food chain.
"I worked my way up the ladder from bar-back to ownership," he said. "I began on this path almost a decade ago and met a lot of influential people along the way."
Maracle boosted Vu's popularity as its manager, bartender and booking agent. Girgis kept the party going as the resident DJ/bartender.
"What did it take to get here? Sacrificing almost every weekend for the last five years of my life, a lot of patience, and loving what I do," said Maracle. "My weekends now start on Monday."
Vu's owners have a new vision for the bar: an industrial look with stainless steel and white leather. They're also looking to add more diversity to their drink menu.
Girgis noted that there's a handful of downtown businesses all invested in each other's success. On the weekend, the nightspot has multiple free giveaways for restaurants and salons.
"We are young business owners and we love the night scene so we are very attentive to what the younger crowd needs and know that we have to give the people what they want in order to keep the place packed," said Maracle.
For pointers and priceless advice, he watches Bar Rescue religiously.
"TV shows like that show you how important it is to run a business properly and how crazy some people are to think it is that easy to own and operate any type of liquor-based business," said Maracle.
For months, a series of rock and metal shows with performances from up-and-coming local bands to recent Juno winners Protest The Hero have kept crowds lining up.
Constant theme parties and fundraising benefits fill up the weeks in between.
Every Time I Die with Ryan 'Leg$' Leger, Cornwall's very own drum hero, is taking the stage at Vu on Friday, September 19.
"We host bands during our non-operational hours so it just adds to the success of the bar and helps encourage diversity in the patrons that come to the bar that normally would never come out," said Maracle.
Girgis invites everyone to come see what all the hypes about.
"It's a continuous work in progress trying to keep it unique comfortable and fresh," he said. "And that's how we will stay on top of the game."