Here’s what to expect at the new Rapscallion restaurant

Rapscallion Rogue Eatery and Two Black Sheep – both popular fixtures in the line of restaurants owned by local hospitality group The Other Bird – were two of Hamilton’s favourite food and night life spots. When both places closed their doors last year, it wasn’t because business was slow; quite the opposite, in fact.

“The problem with those two locations was that they were too small. We were always turning away guests and larger groups,” explains Erin Dunham, CEO and Co-Owner of The Other Bird.

Past visitors know exactly what Dunham is talking about. Within less than a minute of walking distance from each other on John Street South, the often-busy Rapscallion and Two Black Sheep had both originally set up shop in cozy quarters that offered their own singular intimacy, but prevented both spaces from hosting an optimal amount of guests each evening and keeping up with increasing diner demand.

Thus, Rapscallion (a spot which put emphasis on a playful nose-to-tail dining experience) and Two Black Sheep (an approachable hang-out for late-night charcuterie and cocktails by candlelight) each said goodbye to John South in swift succession and set their sights on something more sizeable.

Then, like fate, long-time local staple Ventura’s Signature Restaurant announced that their large (and primely located) dining room on James North would be permanently closing this year. Just like that, Rapscallion and Two Black Sheep found their new future home; a home in which the two previously separate entities are set to join forces and merge as Rapscallion & Co.

Affirmingly, this big move and merging won’t sacrifice the integrity of what guests loved about the original Rapscallion and Two Black Sheep, nor will it completely wipe away the mark Ventura’s left on the building and on James North as a whole.

“We love Ventura’s, and the love that the previous owners put into the space,” says Dunham. “We are absolutely not going to destroy their essence. We are going to redecorate, but we hope to keep many of the beautiful things that they had done with the space.”

What can the hungry Hamilton masses expect from the newly-established Rapscallion & Co? As Dunham says, there will be plenty of what diners loved about the original restaurants coupled with some exciting new twists.

“Matt (Kershaw) will be the chef there, so the food will be very ‘Rapscallion-y’, but he is adding some classic favourites like steaks, seafood towers, and other fun things,” she explains. “The bar will have classic cocktails and oysters, with the addition of hot kitchen items that weren’t possible at the last location (of Two Black Sheep).”

Those who are intrigued and eager to check out the new space won’t have to wait very long, either. In keeping with maintaining much of the original Ventura’s charm, the renovation to the space won’t be a major reconstruction project and, therefore, will likely have a quick turnaround. So, if all goes as planned, Rapscallion & Co. could be opening its doors on James North as early as March 2020.

I also asked Dunham about the decision to reopen these restaurants as a hybrid spot on James North out of any other neighbourhood in the city. It felt like a pretty silly question, but I asked it anyway; and I got pretty much the answer I expected.

“I don’t need to sell James North, it’s pretty obvious why it is great,” says Dunham.

She’s right. And it’s about to get even greater with the hotly anticipated addition of Rapscallion & Co.

Lead image courtesy of @rapscallionrest

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