How many hot turkey sandwiches, their rubbery white bread hulls swimming in brown gravy, have dropped anchor in the eighth-floor gastronomic retreat of the Hudson Bay company since hungry department store shoppers first began seeking retail refuge there? The Arcadian Court has undergone many incarnations since the days when the Robert Simpson Company first opened its doors in 1929, and a piece of contemporary advertising expounded on the place’s “brillliant modern originality.” And it’s about to sustain another, with the Hudson Bay Company’s recent announcement that it will partner with global foodservice firm Compass Group and upscale Toronto restaurateur Oliver & Bonacini to renovate the restaurants in all two dozen of the Bay stores that offer foodservice.
Starting with the venerable chain’s flagship location at Bay and Queen streets, the retailer will revamp its various eateries to better reflect the times with the considerable influence of the foodie minds behind such high-profile restaurants as Canoe, Jump and Auberge du Pommier. The first stage of the project, which launches April 1 and is expected to last 16 months, takes aim at two of the Bay’s three eighth-floor dining spaces (Arcadian Court and Cafe Bon Appetit; Great Chefs on 8 will remain open).
There, the plan is to put together a $4-million, 4,000-square-foot café to replace Timothy’s on the ground level of the Bay. More than that, the historic Arcadian Court will be reinvented as a full-service, state-of-the-art conference facility. And there are also plans for a lower Food Hall inside the store, featuring a chocolate and pasta bar.
The plan dovetails nicely with others Bay president and CEO Bonnie Brooks has announced to refurbish Canada’s oldest department store in an upmarket direction. “The Bay is on a mission to be … one of the leading department stores in the world,” she announced in a recent press release. “That requires looking at every area.”