It all started with postcards

Arty pics set tone for Saucy lounge

When Michelle Belisle and Johnny Lucier started dating some six years ago, she showed him the 197 postcard-sized art prints from Goodwill she was saving.

“She showed me the cards and she said, ‘One day these will be on a bar top’ and I thought, ‘Alright, then,’ ” Lucier says. “Then she put them away and I didn’t see them again pretty much until the day before we did our first pour.”

Today the collection of prints are found on the bar top of their new lounge Sauce on the Danforth, which is located on Danforth Avenue near Greenwood subway station.

“The pieces of art are located in the most famous museums around the world and they’ve all been individually numbered so that if you’re sitting at the bar you can ask the bartender for the booklet, which gives you all of the details of every piece,” Belisle says. “It gives you the name of the artist, style, dates, so that makes for a conversation piece.”

Described as a Victorian bordello chic lounge, Sauce on the Danforth focuses on cocktails like Mary Pickfords and bourbon sours, craft beers and liquor. It also offers a tapas menu and has weekly live music on their vintage piano.

“We wanted to bring some different flavours to the neighbourhood,” Lucier says. “You usually have to go to Queen West or Ossington to get this sort of a feel but more than anything we just wanted a relaxed atmosphere. It’s service that’s paramount here”

While Belisle has been working in the hospitality industry since the early ’90s, Lucier’s background is in designing and building draft beer systems for restaurants, hotels and bars.

“We were sort of destined to do this at some point with our skill sets,” he says.

“I also worked in corporate sales for Prime restaurants and Shoeless Joe’s, selling their franchises, and just always found myself the happiest back in this industry working behind the bar,” she adds.

Although the pair originally picked the name Sauce because they’d planned on offering pasta, it’s still relevant.

“We’re big fans of the prohibition era and one of the most common names for booze was sauce,” Lucier says.

The idea behind the lounge, which is also home to a front patio and a work-in-progress courtyard patio they hope will be ready by spring, was to create a relaxing atmosphere where people feel comfortable to hangout for several hours or to go out for a late-night or post-work cocktail.

Even though Sauce is equipped with a TV, it plays a slideshow of photographs with different themes from different eras.

The interior was furnished with many of their own pieces, Belisle says. “We emptied out our house.”
Lucier adds: “This is our house.”

About this article:

By: Ann Ruppenstein
Posted: Sep 24 2012 8:16 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto