ClubM4 Relocation Grand Opening June 14th & 15th

Club M4 IS MOVING

Well…..I promised a big announcement and here it is:

 After 11 wonderful years at 2814 Lakeshore we are MOVING!

 The new address is 1989A Dundas St East, Mississauga.

 GRAND OPENING:  FRIDAY AND SATURDAY JUNE 14 AND 15TH!!

 The new club is larger, more centrally located, with better parking and a long term lease.  It is a significant UPGRADE from 2814 Lake Shore.

 I think that you will be very impressed with what we have done with the space. It is the culmination of more than a decade of experience combined with a physical layout which lends itself to the lifestyle. Here are a couple of specifics about the club: 

1) It is 10,000 square feet.  A little bit bigger than M4. 2) There is ample free parking.

3) We are at the intersection of Dundas and the 427, a major crossroads, yet the club is set back so that there is no street visibility.   

4) We are no longer in the basement.  The club is a ground floor location!  Woohoo!!!

5) There are four reasonably priced hotels within walking distance of the club. 

6) We are about a 10 minute drive from the old location and closer and more convenient for the majority of our customers.

7) We have a long term lease, more than 9 years.

For those of you wondering about the transition to Dundas: We hope to make it as seamless as possible and not be closed any night. We will be open on Lakeshore until the day we move.  The Grand Opening is Friday and Saturday the 14th and 15th of June.  Thursday June 13th will be the last night at 2814 Lakeshore……

We are sad to move but anxious and excited about the new location.  Remembering how many mistakes I made in June of 2008 I approach this move with trepidation but cautious optimism.  We know a lot more but each situation is different and I hope you will give us the time to make changes and adjustments to the new location.  

I know when you make any major change people always want to know what really happened.  Here is the back story:

 With 21 months to go on our lease, our landlord told us that he might not renew. I did not take him seriously.  After all we were his oldest tenant and paying street level rates for a basement that few businesses would want.  When I signed the lease in 2007 they had not had a tenant since 1992.  They were very circumspect as to why they wanted us out and eventually came up with a story about using the space for themselves as a non-public warehouse.  It didn’t make sense to me then and it doesn’t now.  Warehouse space can be had for much less than we were paying.  With about 18 months to go they told us they were definitely not renewing the lease and wanted us out and sooner rather than later. A year and a half seems like a long time but to find the right location, with a liquor license and a landlord who will take a lifestyle business, is a huge challenge.  

We started by looking at warehouse space.  It was appealing because we could start from scratch and build exactly what we wanted.  The down side is that….we’d be starting from scratch. Matt and I have some skills but architectural design and build out and decorating are not among them.  In addition we would be dealing with the uncertainty of permits and acquiring a brand new liquor license.  Maybe we could get it all done in 17 months…but maybe not.  

We then started looking at businesses with existing licenses.  We found some nice locations downtown but they were very expensive and there was no parking.  I know that urban clubs can do well and survive on public transport and proximity to a large population base, but that has not been the M4 model.  We are mostly a destination club, and the majority of our members drive.  Only about 20% of our clientele uses TTC so I felt that we would lose a significant chunk of our current members.  I didn’t want to incur the expense of moving and completely flip our business model.  

We needed something that was more than 8000 sq. feet, had a liquor license and parking for 150 cars or more.  Not an easy find in today’s real estate market!  

In March 2018 we were approached by the owners of a property on City View Lane.  It seemed like it would meet all of our criteria.  It was big, 14,000 sq. ft.  It had a liquor license attached and while the parking wasn’t perfect, it was something we thought we could work around; and, they approached us. They knew what our business was. We started looking at the space immediately.  Apparently there had been a flood there in February.  The existing tenants had not paid their hydro bill and the pipes froze and exploded causing substantial water damage.  We were told on our first visit that it was a minor clean up and that the spot would be rentable in 30-60 days.  Before I left town I made them a verbal offer which they accepted.  The building owner said, “Just put something in writing and I’ll have my attorney draft up a lease.” With a three month build out in mind, we envisioned opening in August or September of 2018.  

When I got home I drafted almost word for word what we had agreed to and sent it off.  The owner said, “Listen, I’m going out of the country for two weeks, I won’t be able to look at your proposal until I get back to Canada.”  Hmm…..That sounded a bit odd.  I’m sure that other countries have Internet.  Why couldn’t he read it?  But I said Ok.  We will talk as soon as you get home. 

It was almost May before I heard from them again, the owner said: “Your proposal is unacceptable.  My partners will never agree to this deal.  I’ve decided that we don’t want you as a tenant.”  Damn! Why did they contact us in the first place???? We had now lost two valuable months and the clock was ticking.  I was worried that we were never going to find a location. I said to Matt, “Maybe we could negotiate an extension of our current lease: “What do you think about offering our landlord $100,000 to extend our lease for two years?”  “I don’t think he’ll take it but I’ll ask,” Matt said.  The next day Matt called me back with the news, “Not interested.” Yikes, 15 months and counting. 

Over the summer we looked at more places and nothing seemed to work.  By the end of September I was getting a bit nervous….I told Matt, I’m going to come up to Toronto next week. Show me everything.  I’m staying until we find something.  When he picked me up at the airport he said there was nothing new on the market but that a location he had seen a couple of weeks ago seemed like it had real possibilities.  The only problem….There is an existing business there and they want $400,000 for the business.  What?????????  What kind of business is it?  “A wedding hall,” Matt said.   Ugh…I thought.   

The next day we drove there.  I had very low expectations.  But as we turned off of Dundas to the wedding hall I thought, “This is a pretty nice entrance.  The club has great frontage but cannot be seen from the street.  Perfect!”    The club itself was very basic.  It was a 10,000 sq. ft. Vanilla shell that happened to have a liquor license and a 10 year lease attached.  But the price…that wasn’t going to happen.

How much business do you think this guy does?  “I don’t know” said Matt.  Well, let’s ask him.

It turns out he was doing about $4,000 per month.  When I asked him how he justified the price he said, “I paid $285,000 for the business 2 years ago and I’ve put a lot of money into it.” I looked around and all I saw was a sea of banquet tables and chairs, I didn’t know that we would need $400,000 worth of wedding furniture! 

With no other prospects we began to negotiate to acquire the lease and liquor license. The price came down and down but the months were ticking off as well.  Around New Year’s it seemed like we had finally agreed to a price and something tentative was signed right before Christmas.  But a condition for us buying the business was that the landlord needed to consent to a lease assignment.  Again, we had a verbal agreement but nothing in writing.  “No money changes hands until we have that consent signed” I told the seller.  Of course no one was working over the holidays and when January 2 rolled around we learned the landlord was out of the country until the last week in January.  What is it with these damn landlords?!

In mid-January I took a surprising call from the owners of the City View.  They were very apologetic about what happened in the spring but they wanted to see if we’d like to rent the space under the original terms.  What happened to the deal we struck last spring I asked?  It turns out they said that the water damage was far more extensive than they had admitted to us.  The insurance company had deemed the premises as uninhabitable which is why it was un-rentable.  It had nothing to do with my offer.

So in the cold and snow of January Matt went to look at City View again.  It was a good property and a decent location but there were a couple of drawbacks.  Parking was an issue. To ensure that we had enough would mean us paving over a grassy piece of land adjacent to the bar.  It was also really big, 14,000 sq. ft.  That would be fine when we had 400 people, but what about when we had 40? Or 14?  But on the plus side we didn’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire a lease and liquor license.

After Matt had gone back and forth between the two locations I asked him this, “Money aside; which is the better location for us to be in for the next ten years?”  “Dundas” he said emphatically.  It’s a far better location and I think our members will love it.”  That was good enough for me. 

It took another month of back and forth but we finally got all the parties to sign on the last day of February.  At 6am on March 1, 2019 we began remodeling what we hope will be our home for at least the next decade.  They say that next to divorce and the death of a loved one, moving is the most stressful lifetime event.  I agree!!!  But now that we have taken over and the work on the new M4 is almost halfway done, we are extremely hopeful about the new location and our future there. 

I once wrote that my demise was likely to come carrying two cases of Coors Light down the stairs of M4.  Matt would find me dead and reeking of beer! 

 

Well….that particular prophecy is over.  There are no steps at the new M4.  We are out of the basement, into the sunlight and really excited to be the greatest club in North America!  See you at ClubM4!!!!

Rich

PS

After reading this you might get the impression that much of the work acquiring the new space was done by me.  That would be wrong. 

Almost all of the site selection, cost estimates, build out modules and hard work was done by Matt and Jerry.  I am a bystander. I trust their work ethic, judgment and honesty implicitly. 

Thank you Matt and Jerry!!!

 

                                                                                   

5 Responses to ClubM4 Relocation Grand Opening June 14th & 15th

  • Anne and Frank says:

    Good morning M4 people!! Wow what a great story and thank you for all your hard work trying to find your new home!! We really appreciate it and look forward to the party … we will probably be there on the Friday night!!

  • Brian & Rachel says:

    Congratulations on your exciting new digs! I’d love to hear more about what you’ve got planned for the physical space! I love M4, but yes the basement was getting a bit subterranean. So glad you’ll be up in the light! Looking forward to visiting soon :) xo

  • Dancecouple says:

    Best of luck.. Your the best run club in Ontario. Looking forward to it..

  • Foxy says:

    Beautiful story, I am so excited to check out the new space tomorrow night!!!

  • Zion&Shay says:

    You guys have put all your blood and sweat to see M4 be the best in North America. Your hard work and dedication is what us paying off. Keep up the good work. Best of luck.

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