Brothers pair up to run their own watering hole
The old shoe is now on the other foot for two brothers who toiled in the service industry for most of their adult lives.
Located in an under-the-radar social area at Dundas Street West and Euclid Avenue, the future of Mikael and Andrew Hickey’s bar, The Press Club, looks bright.
“It got to a point where I thought, if you’re not going up the ladder, you’re falling off,” says Mikael, 30. “It was time for me to either open up my own bar or start thinking about another form of employment.”
Their cousin sold them the bar after four years of juggling it with a nursing career became too difficult.
After longing for their own watering hole for years the pieces were finally in place.
“It’s kind of been a dream of ours. At this point it’s a bit of an adventure,” says Andrew, 28.
They kept the bar open during the transition, learning the ropes of ownership on the fly.
“I’ve managed bars and Andrew’s owned businesses before, but the only way you’re going to learn is to just throw yourself into it and make mistakes.”
With creativity in their blood they keep busy in the minimal downtime they have. Andrew sings and plays guitar and Mikael plays bass in their atmospheric rock outfit My Hot Redhead. On top of that Andrew runs his own stonemasonry business while Mikael has found success acting in indie films.
They’re slowly turning the place into a creative launching pad for local artists and musicians with live music nightly.
Andrew played a big role in planting the seed for this in The Press Club’s first incarnation.
“I knew if somebody else bought it they’d want to get rid of the open stage. Before there was a PA system I used to play acoustic even behind the bar. I’d be bartending and doing the open stage at the same time.”
While the bar does have its artistic style, it is far from snobby. They have had interior designers come in and give them tips on how to modernize, but the lived-in style suits them and their patrons just fine.
“It’s still a very eclectic, cache old place. What’s the word I’m looking for?” asks Mikael, trying to describe it.
“An old shoe,” Andrew says with a laugh. “How about a really nice old Rolling Stones T-shirt you never want to throw away?”
They’re not trying to create a fleetingly popular spot, it’s a place anyone can walk in enjoy and feel at ease.
“I have always loved places that looked like they’re not in for the quick fix, the quick buy, the quick sell,” says Mikael. “Good lasting bars are hard to come by in Toronto now.”
Keeping the business in the family results in the odd conflict but they agree the positives of a trusting business relationship highly outweigh the negatives.
“If you were pissed off at a partner then you’d probably need a mediator to come in and make sure you’re not hurting anyone’s feelings,” Andrew explains.
“If it looks like we’re ever going to get in trouble with this place then we’re going to sell because it’s not worth interfering with our relationship. It’s family before business,” Mikael says.
the press club
• Location: 850 Dundas St. W.