“The boss is coming so you better look busy!”
Back in 2008, the multi-Juno Award-winning band Arkells sang these words, a decade before two of its members found themselves at the helm of a sports bar in downtown Hamilton. Today, local entrepreneurs have an exciting opportunity to collaborate with the bandmates as they open up ODDS for use during non-operational hours.
Earlier this week, Max Kerman, the band’s frontman, shared a video on Twitter explaining that ODDS is available on weekday mornings and afternoons before the bar opens at 5 pm. He encourages food entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for how they’d like to utilize the space.
Attention food entrepreneurs! Nick and I own a little sports bar called @oddsthebar in #HamOnt, and we want to put the space to work. It’s unused weekday mornings and afternoons. Maybe there’s a firstname.lastname@example.org. pic.twitter.com/LayOq6CKmz
— Max Kerman (@Max_Kerman) January 8, 2024
“Our goal for 2024 is to have ODDS busy for as many hours of the day as possible,” says Kerman. “We have an amazing team, but we’re always looking for more partners to play with — parties, meetings, pop-ups. Let’s put the space to work.”
Arkells bassist Nick Dika joins Kerman in part ownership of ODDS. Since its opening, the sports bar has become a local hotspot for being a game-day hangout while sharing nachos, wings and other pub snacks. But, with daily specials and events from half-priced wings to trivia and karaoke nights, ODDS has racked up a reputation for being a lively hang-out no matter the day of the week.
“When Nick and I originally conceived [the idea] of ODDS, it was because there weren’t any downtown sports bars that felt inclusive,” says Kerman. “Traditionally, sports bars have a hyper-masculine energy, and we wanted none of that. It’s a small, cozy place, but there’s lots of love in there and you can feel it in the walls.”
This goal of inclusivity is one of the driving forces for the decision to partner with other business owners to make use of the space at ODDS during closed hours.
“I love shared spaces, generally,” says Kerman. “There’s nothing like walking into a building where you feel the bustle and energy of people excited to be out of the house.”
During the pandemic, ODDS implemented a similar concept, and according to Kerman, it turned out to be a great opportunity to connect with local businesses in the area. With a fully equipped commercial kitchen and a “beautiful “front-of-house, he describes the space as ideal for food and beverage ventures such as food truck prep, catering or a coffee shop with baked goods. This setup accommodates businesses that may find it challenging to commit to an entire month’s rent or cover all startup costs.
While utilizing the kitchen would make the most of the space, the front-of-house at ODDS has seen diverse uses in the past. It has hosted vintage clothing pop-ups, wedding receptions and community events. Notably, the production of Crave’s sketch comedy series The Dessert demonstrated the sports bar’s potential as a versatile filming location.
“More than anything in particular, we hope whoever it is will have a great spirit—responsible, hardworking, kind and a good communicator,” Kerman writes. “Someone who takes pride in the space and is good at sharing and collaborating.”
Calling the collaboration, a “rudimentary concept,” Kerman states that the rental cost will be determined on a “case-by-case basis so it’s a mutually beneficial and flexible partnership.”
“In the five and a half years we’ve been open, we’ve seen so many neighbouring restaurants and coffee shops open and close,” he says. “Hamilton has its challenges, but a lot of it seems to be due to volume. We need more people going out. If we can share operational costs in some way, everyone wins.”
Kerman states that the management team has already received a bunch of “promising inquiries” about the new space.
“If another business or entrepreneur can use this as an opportunity to grow, that’s energizing,” he says. “Nick has done an incredible job working with members of the community and our staff to give a sense of life to the bar. Posting about sharing the space is a continuation of the exercise. I’m really curious to see who we meet and what new energy we find.”