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Surviving Covid

The history of PETITE A LA CARTE and NightLife

Traditional, old world fine dining with a modern day twist is what comes to mind for the newly opened restaurant Petite a La Carte.

Owner, Mike Service, has long had the dream to start his own restaurant and the foundation for opening Petite a la Care came from asking his partner, Pat Havlik, a very simple question; where would you like to go for dinner? Pat’s continued response of “I don’t care” brought the realization that it wasn’t so much that she didn’t care but that every place felt the same. Mike went on to explain that “we have been to a number of nicer restaurants in town so many times that it was no longer a treat. It was just a return visit, some place to go. There was nowhere she really cared for that she would go out of her way to visit.”

With this in mind, Mike took a hard look at the demographics he was looking to serve which were ladies between the ages of 25 to 65. His market research included asking the market he was aiming for “if there was a place in town that was built for you, what would you look for in that place?” Petite a la Carte was designed around that concept.

When Mike and Pat took over the storefront, they were adamant that they didn’t want it to look like the previous restaurant with a different menu. They wanted to make sure that when customers walked in, it was a whole new experience. Starting from the entrance, to the service and the food, a complete restoration was completed.

When asked if there were any hiccups along the way, Mike provided that he had “severely underestimated the cost of the renovations because when you are dealing with a 110 year old building you start with one thing and it opens it up to three more.” They gutted the place from top to bottom and even installed new plumbing.

Petite a La Carte opened its doors on July 3rd 2019 and provides an intimate atmosphere with cool tones and soft furnishings. The flow of the restaurant provides multiple pockets for dining that can accommodate different sizes of parties and still be able to keep them in their own areas and not have the restaurant be monopolized by them.

The menu is designed around the concept of small plates, a la carte and items change seasonally. A lot of the menu items are recipes that have been refined over decades. They wanted to bring back traditional, old world fine dining. “When you went out for dinner in the 70’s” Mike explained, “when you went out for dinner, it was a special occasion. That’s what we tried to create here. “

If you are looking for a place to catch up with friends, while enjoying delicious food, an amazing atmosphere and great service, come dine at Petite a La Carte.

Welcome March 2020

Starting at the beginning of March 2020 Petite A La Carte was booked solid for dinner every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until the end of May. March 3rd we got the notice of a Ontario wide shut down for 3 months.

Our customers were so loyal that 95% of them were considerate enough to actually call and cancel their reservations.

Enter June 2020 and we are allowed to have people on the patio and take out. As I watched small foot traffic return and people walking by, they would always look inside as the french doors leading to the patio were most always open.

The pattern was the same every time. Slow down, stop as they look inside. Then glance up at the sign and continue walking. As I watched the neighbouring pubs, grills, and bars fill up I came to a realization that now was not the time for a high end small plate restaurant.

Enter NightLife July 2020

NightLife Bistro and Jazz Lounge opened July 1st 2020. Not wanting to take customers away from the other restaurants in the area. I tried to create a concept unlike any other in the downtown core. NightLife would only be open at night (hence the name) and would have live music or some form of entertainment every-time it was open.

Our menu would be centred around comfort food made from scratch. Dishes found at other establishments like potato skins would transform into unique creations and the pasta, lamb, chicken and beef would be fresh and sourced locally. The current atmosphere was perfect for both the Bistro and a live music venue. We did three “Dinner and a Show” ticketed events in 2020. Each one to sold out crowds. Our band line up consists of Pop, Rock, Jazz, Blues and Motown.

It is now Oct 1st 2021 and to date we have survived 4 shutdowns and with covid restrictions in place we still persevere and provide quality food and live entertainment from some of the best artists throughout Ontario. In times of turmoil try to remember to slow down, change lanes and find your path. It might not be your original concept but if you love what you do go forward. Remember to bring kindness to other people, you never know who may need a little escape from their troubles.

Mike Service

Owner, Chef, Dishwasher, Janitor.


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