When Rock Lobster Food Co. owner Matt Dean Pettit opened his restaurant on Ossington last winter, he promised multiple locations of the seafood eatery would eventually follow across the city. Well, the lobster roll–maker is keeping his word, and he’s just revealed to us that he’s turning Queen West’s Shanghai Cowgirl diner (538 Queen St. W., at Bathurst) into a second location of Rock Lobster Food Co.—a bigger space that will have a bigger menu and extended hours.
“It’s going to be open seven days a week. We’ll do lunch, dinner, and late nights till around 3 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays,” he says. “I’m a big believer of walking before you learn to run, but this opportunity came up to take over another spot with my two current partners.”
One of the partners, Darryl Fine, owns the Shanghai Cowgirl, along with the adjacent Bovine Sex Club (hence the need for late-night hours at this new place). He also owned the former Watusi bar (which closed to become the first Rock Lobster) with Pettit’s other partner Alan Thomson.
“It’s not that Shanghai is closing because it has to; it’s been around for 13 years, so we’re doing it more for a change,” says Pettit. “The neighbourhood is changing with more residential buildings. There’s now a Loblaws, a big Shoppers, CB2, Starbucks, the Burroughes building, and Fidel Gastro’s new place, Lisa Marie.”
The new menu will have a few things carried over from the Ossington location, like the lobster poutine, mac and cheese, and, of course, the lobster rolls, but there will also be some new dishes. A retail counter, much like at the just opened Lisa Marie a few doors down, will be set up to sell prepared sauces and soups. There will also be a mini-fish-market manned by fishmongers (not bartenders or servers, stresses Pettit) at the entrance, where sustainable seafood like lobster, salmon, shrimp, snow crab, and scallops will be brought in daily.
As for timelines, Shanghai Cowgirl will be closing for good next week and, after a speedy, one-month reno, the new space will (hopefully) open on June 1. Inside, the restaurant will seat about 75, while the back patio (“Tromba slushies!” Pettit exclaims) will seat another 80.—Karon Liu