Inhabitable Intersection?

Fluid Night Club, Fluid in the HubIt’s that time again Kingston – another hopeful business is moving into the former unlucky intersection of two of the busiest streets in the heart of the Hub.

Coming this Friday, May 25th, 424 Princess Street is opening its doors again, this time as Fluid Night Club, in hopes of breaking into the Hub scene as a new hotspot.

It has yet to be determined why this 5,000-square-foot entertainment emporium has had such bad luck since the closure of Lino’s Restaurant and Tavern. It’s common knowledge in Kingston that businesses have not lasted long in its place, but there has yet to be a distinct reason behind each closure at this address. In 2008, Kingstonist wrote about the area’s new and popular venues.  Not much has changed since, with only the Elysium Nightclub (before our latest addition Fluid) attempting success at 424 Princess St. Unfortunately, Elysium didn’t make the cut and closed down.
Timeline of businesses located at Division and PrincessCould it be the location? Is it perhaps just one reach away from where downtown visitors are willing to go? It’s true, the other side of Division is almost like the dark side for tourism. The vibe is rather different from the historic community along the waterfront and around downtown Kingston.  To some extent, it’s possible that 424 Princess St. has simply been an undesirable destination for downtown regulars.

After discussing the newest addition to the Hub with some pals, we tried to pinpoint the reason why former businesses at this address have closed their doors to patrons more times in the last decade than any other address in the hub. I must admit, I was shocked at some of the reasons we rounded up – the quietly whispered “potential stabbing location” definitely threw me for a loop.

After much research, I couldn’t find any documented facts that there had in fact been stabbings in the vicinity of 424 Princess St., even though my friends swear that’s what happened just prior to Legendz shutting down once and for all. Another popular suggestion was the presence of underagers at the night club. I must admit – I’d never stepped foot inside 424 Princess Street, so I have not experienced firsthand what the clientele was like in either Elysium or Legendz.  Nevertheless, I have also come across gossip that both may have been popular destinations for underage customers who could enter without proper ID. Social media also pointed the finger at less than strict rules regarding under age patrons as a reason for their closings as liquor licenses were questioned.

So perhaps the poor reputations of past businesses at this address have led to a downfall for future businesses hoping to set up shop here. Perhaps Elysium never had a chance.

The difficult transition  from restaurant to nightclub may have also had an effect on the success of both Legendz and Elysium.  Before Legendz, Gusto’s Italian Eatery served up hearty dishes but was unable to make a mark on upper Princess St.   It closed down quickly, subsequently ending the restaurant-focus of this address. Arguably, Ktown folk may have only seen it as a restaurant location – or a failed location.

As for Lino’s, which I’m perchance fortunately too young to remember since the reviews didn’t leave much greatness to the imagination, the restaurant also fell short of bringing in a constant crowd that would keep it in business. Even so, Lino’s lasted longer than any successor and it could be argued it’s been the only hit 424 Princess St. has seen so far.

Time will tell what Fluid will add to the Hub. It appears that Fluid is not the only nightclub getting comfortable on the Princess strip this Spring. Only a stone’s throw away from the Hub, Room Nine (formerly My Bar, and Brooklyn) opened and looked to have promising crowds for a Saturday night.

Good Luck to Fluid in surviving where others have not at this intersection.

Meg Lyons

Meg Lyons has retired as a contributor to Kingstonist. She was once Kingstonist's resident ecoholic, who wrote about sustainability as it pertains to the local food movement, transportation and life in Kingston. She is borderline cat-crazed and a self-acclaimed duck whisperer.

15 thoughts on “Inhabitable Intersection?

  • Are you kidding me? The restaurant at Lino's may not have been run by Chef Ramsay, but it was as fine a "greasy spoon" diner as you will find anywhere.

    While there were certainly patrons at the bar every night, it by no means carried the establishment. The restaurant would fill up — every single night — around 1:00am, with people looking for food after the bars closed. It was a destination for all ages, from kids to boomers and up.

    It was also a popular breakfast destination, and in the last few years, karaoke kept the middle "Marco Polo" room occupied until food time. Popular dishes included Baby Pizzas (9", piled high, greasy, and about $5), all you can eat spaghetti ($2?), and poutine (with mozzarella cheese and Lino's beef gravy).

    Also, there was a non-fatal double stabbing at Princess & Division in May 2010, but I don't know what side of the road it was on. The Shopper's lot near Money Mart used to be a gas station (Nozzles), one of the owners was killed there in the mid/late 80s during a botched robbery. There was also a stabbing at AJ's Hangar in 2006.

    • It's good to hear a positive review of Lino's. I'm surprised it closed down if it was as big as a hit as you describe in the community. It's interesting it was a popular breakfast destination! Usually popular breakfast diners get cozy in a smaller city if business is good. Do you have any views of why it may have closed down otherwise?

      The owners of Legendz were actually the former owners of Lino's as well – The Galanis sisters, Connie, Maria, Catherine and Irene, re-purchased the building in hopes to bring Lino's style food back alongside the nightclub.
      In any case, Lino's is and was the only business thus far that lasted more than a couple of years in the building.

  • Lino's closed in or around 2000-2001. I was there closing night and the regulars were tearing stuff off the walls to take home as souvenirs. My T.A. in my first year Queen's film class was making a documentary about the closure and was there when it got bulldozed. He said when they tore down the walls to the washrooms, they found hundreds of used syringes – people had apparently been shooting drugs and depositing their spikes in a hole in the wall for some time.

    • Thank you for that correction! (Used syringes in the walls?!)

  • Given the number of restaurants and clubs around that area, i think it's hard to sustain a new venture (restaurant, club, or otherwise) of that size. Perhaps if some entrepreneur were to re-facade the outside and break up the interior space into smaller commercial spaces, there might be more success.

    I think the building at Johnson and Ontario had similar problems, i.e. trying to sustain a 3-floor restaurant. Let's hope the wedding boutique that's there now does better.

    • Ah yes, the black hole of commercial death at Johnson and Ontario. Seems to me there are quite a few vacancies downtown, which is a good thing with our upcoming revisit of what's new, closed and vacant. Hard for the downtown to be full-up with the competition from big box zones, and the ridiculous rental clauses/prices pushed by landlords.

  • Does Fluid have a unique concept that will stand out from other places?
    It is a strange decision to open a bar in the hub after the students have left town.
    The Oriental Grocery not too far from there just closed.
    Revamping upper Princess street will be a difficult challenge.

    • Darn, the Oriental Grocery closed? Too bad, that place was excellent for hard-to-find things.

  • The layout of the room is the biggest problem that came to mind for me. It is set up to work as a restaurant, not a nightclub. How much fun "nightclub" atmosphere can you generate in a place that feels like Golden Griddle?

  • I never went to Lino's, but I remember the highschool rumour that you'd get a) drugs or b) a hooker if you ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    As for the current building itself, yech. I don't know what the folks at Gusto were thinking with that "look it is a Tuscan castle" nonsense. Fluid will hopefully take down the ratty flags that have been flapping on that building for the past however many years.

  • As a matter of fact, and from personal experience, Lino's Restaurant was operating as far back as 1969. The original owner as most of us remember very well, was Lino Bonnucchi (I hope that is the correct spelling) who passed away a few years ago. It was a very popular spot at any time, but particularly in the evening or on weekends after a movie, hockey game or just a night out and was well-known for making great pizzas. Since Lino's closed, no one in Kingston has been able to duplicate his success in this regard….c'est dommage!

    • Lino’s opened in 1963 and my grandfather, Ole Jonassen, did the renovation/redecoration around 1969/70 that was still pretty much there in the late 80s/early 90s. Most of the paintings on the walls were his, as were all of those translucent panels over the fluorescent lights painted in florentine patterns. If you looked, each one was signed, “Ole J.” That–and cheap pizza and beer and great milkshakes–was why I loved the place.

  • My folks used to take my sister and I to Lino’s for ‘baby # 5’ pizzas and spaghetti when we were kids. I still have cravings for their pizza – it was amazing! We often say how we miss it. I remember the atmosphere was a little scummy, but the posts about hookers and syringes surprises me. Despite my fond memories, I have no drive to return to visit ‘another new nightclub’ in that location. I went to Gustos 2-3 times and it did not impress. Would be great to have a successful business on that corner – but I’m not sure a nightclub is the right fit.

  • Where can you find pizza's similar to Linos anywhere in Ontario? I recall ordering them for delivery to residence on Leonard Field in 1970 – delic, and really greasy. In comparison, all the chain pizza places are dry and antiseptic. Is this the result of the health kick, in the way the original Swiss Chalet french fries lost their taste and grease?

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