Local Business Spotlight - Side Street Pub & Grill

Monday Mar 08th, 2021


This amazing neighbourhood pub is one of my favourite places to go. If only it was in my neighbourhood! I love the vibe of this place; it doesn’t matter who you are, you will find a seat here. All types of people go to Side Street for a good time, great food & a pint.

Interview with Mike (the owner of Side Street Pub & Grill)

Tell me about Side Street Pub & Grill? Did you always want to own a bar in Kensington?

This April will mark our 7-year anniversary. Sarah (my lovely wife) and I always wanted to own our own bar. We had been looking around Calgary for a year or so and just hadn’t found the one. We walked in here, it was Sam’s at the time, and we looked at each other and we just knew. You know that feeling you get when it is exactly right? That’s how we felt. So here we are almost 7 years later and still loving it.

Sarah and I have spent most of our careers working in the industry and we wanted to open a place where we could do things the way we wanted. Working for other people; you have a great idea, but you can’t run with it because they don’t want to take the chance or manage the liability. Owning Side Street gave us the chance to run things the way we wanted to and to do things that we thought would be fun and fun for our customers. We do a rafting trip every year (well almost), we take a group of customers, and raft down the bow in the summer. We also host a tobogganing trip. It’s those extra things, that Sarah and I really wanted to be able to do with our customers. We love this business, its not work when you love what you do.

Side Street is one of those places where everyone can fit in. I like to think that we are Calgary’s version of Cheers. Everyone is welcome! 80% of our customers are regulars, I don’t mean here daily (although there are a few), I mean we have people that pop in once a week or once a month, but it is their place for going out. It’s a safe place, there are a variety of people that come to enjoy a pint and watch whatever sporting event is on. The atmosphere here is awesome. People come to watch a game, then they stay for the nightclub vibe we create (DJ and dance floor). We like to change up the atmosphere, keep people with us for their evening out. From sports bar to pool tables to dance floor, we can cater to whatever your evening plans are.

We give away the best prizes in town. Here at Side Street, we love to give away unique prizes, not something you can win at any other pub in town. And we always have a previous prize winner draw the next giveaway, no rigging!

A couple of unique things that Side Street does; we have a dog friendly patio in the Summer, and in the winter, we run a cribbage tournament with cool prizes at the end, but honestly most people participate to get their name on the plaque! We are big supporters of community involvement; we sponsor local sports teams & have a few Side Street Pub & Grill teams.

How did you decide on Side Street Pub & Grill for the name?

Well, that’s kind of an odd story. The old owners let us hold onto the name when we first bought. And it almost stuck… Sarah and Mike Shupenia (SAMS). But there I was one night in bed watching some cop show and they kept yelling “down the side street, he went down the side street”. I woke Sarah up and said, “SIDE STREET”. Plus, when we are giving directions, we always tell people to go down the side street. So, it kind of just fell into place.

How did you meet your partner in crime?

That is a funny story…

She walked out on her tab! I was working at the Regal Beagle at the time. I was just about to let the bartender go for letting these two girls walk out on a hefty bar tab. He assured me that they were good girls and would be back to pay it. He even made a wager that they would be back to pay it. With $50 on the line, who walks in? Sarah and her friend, looking to pay their bill. I lost $50 that day. It was perfect because she and her friend were on their way to an interview and I was looking to hire. She became one of the best servers I have ever hired, she just has this passion for service. We worked at the Regal Beagle for 5 years and then she went to New Castle Pub to be a part of the opening team there. I moved onto Richmond’s Pub for a while and well the rest is history.

Quotable Moment

“Surround yourself with Greatness and life is Great!”

This includes our staff, I would rather run short staffed then have sh!tty staff. And our vendors; all our vendors are business relationships that have also become friendships.

BLB Final Thoughts

Side Street is my absolute favorite place to have a night out in Calgary. We all know I live, breathe, and love sports. So, having a pub in the City like Side Street is a dream come true for me. They also have the best pub food in the city hands down. One of my favorite things about Side Street Pub is that you can see the pride that Mike and Sarah have when it comes to their bar. They are both hard workers. I also love that they get involved with the community and that they give back to those less fortunate. Mike and Sarah are truly extraordinary people and there is no doubt in my mind that Side Street Pub will be successful for many more years to come. If you are looking for a place to enjoy a hockey game with a pint and a great meal look no further. Side Street is the place and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Follow Side Street Pub & Grill on:

Facebook @sidestreetkensington

Instagram @sidestreetkensington

Twitter @sidestreetyyc


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