Chair: Hotel/Tourism/Retail, Best Western Plus
As the new Chair of the DWBIA, Yeomans has plenty to contribute – he’s spent the majority of his professional life working in the core, and has lived downtown for the better part of half the decade. He’s currently the business development manager for Best Western Plus Waterfront and Holiday Inn Express Windsor Waterfront, and was selected to be the representative of the two hotels for the DWBIA board.
“I love downtown,” says Yeomans passionately. “I came back downtown to work for quality of life. I can walk to work, dine and (find) entertainment right from my front door. That means the guests of the hotels I work at can also easily walk to dining and entertainment from the front door of (their) hotels.”
Yeomans says the secret to a thriving downtown is to have a “strong, cohesive team” supporting, promoting and managing the downtown with a precise message, one with vision and clarity.
Vice Chair: Member at Large, Rose City Politics Inc.
Originally from Toronto, Papadeas, an author, and full-time law professor at St. Clair College “came to Windsor in 1987 to attend law school – and stayed!” Her contributions to the community are plenty – she’s an executive on the board of the Windsor International Film Festival, a consultant for board and organizational governance, the host of Rose City Politics, head director for large scale festivals including Carrousel of the Nations Greek Village and LiUNA Bluesfest, and was responsible for arranging the Women’s March bus out of Windsor (which was the first bus organized out of Canada). To say that Papadeas loves the community in which she lives would be a severe understatement.
“Windsor, and its downtown in particular, is special,” says Papadeas, who continues to explain why belonging to the DWBIA has become so important. “I believe the downtown is the heart of any self-respecting place that wants to call itself a city, and that municipal decision have been made that are not aligned with prioritizing the health of the downtown. I like to think that I bring governance experience to a group of individuals who are on this board and have enormous passion in making downtown all it can be.”
Treasurer: Bars & Nightclubs, Craft Heads Brewing Company
According to Datoc, “brewing beer started off as a ‘bucket-list’ item, one that quickly snowballed into starting a brewery.” Datoc says the magic and mix of being creative, coupled with science, brought people together – which inspired the founding of the business in 2014. Despite knowing few people in the core, they quickly found growing support from not only residents and visitors, but other business owners as well. As a result of the generosity they received from so many, “being able to pay it forward to new businesses opening up in the core is very important to us,” Datoc says.
Today, Craft Heads’ location, the intersection of Pelissier and University Ave. W., is quickly gaining traction as an entertainment hub, with film, live music, art and craft beer all available within a one-block radius.
Director: Restaurant (Unlicensed), Toasty’s Grilled Cheese & Salad Bar
Toasty’s, downtown’s beloved grilled cheese and salad bar, was purchased by Clark from its original owners, the founders of Frenchy’s Poutinery. In partnership with her twin sister, Vanessa, Clark says she “saw opportunity… a vision I wanted to make come to life.” In 2015, at the age of 23, Clark and her sister decided to invest in the thriving restaurant, in an effort to create a space of fun and comfort for those who frequent the downtown core.
“The best part of downtown Windsor,” Clark shares, “is the level of opportunity. “Every day I walk the streets of downtown I can envision one full of shops, restaurants and people. It’s possible. And there’s so much opportunity to make that happen.”
Director: Restaurant (Licensed), The Cook’s Shop
Originally from Hamilton, serendipity brought restaurateur Spencer Dawson to Windsor. The young entrepreneur, who studied Business Administration at Brock University, shares that his heart has always belonged to fine dining. While mulling over options to purchase a restaurant, a family member mentioned to Dawson that The Cook’s Shop in downtown Windsor was up for sale.
It was fate. Dawson’s parents were engaged at that very space in 1984.
Today, The Cook’s Shop is where Dawson feels he can “tell my family’s history through our recipes… using my Nonna’s lasagna, her meatballs, her sauce, writing down these recipes that she’s (created) through senses and feeling.”
As a Board member, Dawson says that “more than ever, I see some of the main issues downtown Windsor is facing, and at this point I just want to try to understand the community and help build a stronger relationship with the municipality. Beautification and improvement is key here.”
Director: Retail, Greentown Cannabis
Sam Katzman credits his interest in entrepreneurial endeavours to his father, Rob, who opened up Cheetah’s in 1987. Over the years, the Katzman’s have opened several businesses in and around the downtown core, including the newly opened Greentown Cannabis.
Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Katzman calls himself “a Windsorite true and true — we believe in Windsor and in the core. We’re invested here. We care.”
Katzman says joining the new DWBIA board brings an added sense of pride and humility to his work. Impressed and inspired by the innovative leadership coming from downtown business owners, “the core deserves people working together and a solid sense of support.
“What you see downtown is the epitome of small business — you can go into any establishment and see the owner working. They connect and interact. That doesn’t happen in every community.
“What we have here is special.”
Director: Professional Services, Kavanaugh │Milloy LLP
Through the years, Jeff Patterson has been grateful to have created and developed relationships and partnerships that have helped him become compassionate to the complex issues faced by Windsor-based workers, all of whom who are eager to find meaningful and thoughtful solutions. As a member of the DWBIA, he’s discovered an “excellent opportunity to join a new and energetic Board that, as far as I could tell, (see) the need to use the platform to improve Windsor’s downtown core for its members, and more broadly for the residents of Windsor as a whole.”
Patterson says that as someone who frequents the downtown, he’s excited to see it become a more vibrant, safe and prosperous area, and he’s thrilled to be able to contribute towards finding ways to make the core a destination for nearby residents and travelers.
“The best part of downtown Windsor is its location and potential,” says Patterson. “There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in downtown Windsor for businesses… the combination of our location and potential makes being on the DWBIA at this time very exciting.”
Director: Professional Services, Windsor Criminal Law
Bobby Russon has always been passionate about mental health and addiction awareness; his mission is to “help people who have nowhere else to turn.”
The attorney says that being part of the DWBIA has been of great importance to him because he sees so much potential in the core. With the right ideas and attitudes, he says, downtown Windsor can be “revolutionized.
“The best part of downtown Windsor is the congeniality among business owners. Most realize they are in this fight together, and (can) work together to turn things around.”
Director: Commercial Property Owner/Developer, Villains Beastro
It’s an enticing, intriguing, and even playfully dark space that’s captured the attention of many downtown revelers. Villains Beastro is many things, but it’s not cookie cutter, and one that won’t soon be easily replicated in any other urban centre.
Owner Geoff Zanetti says open Villains was inspired by Sam Malone, the suave and charming fictional bartender from legendary sitcom Cheers. “And my father, for allowing me to watch the show,” he adds. “I always thought about opening something downtown, and at 30, I thought it was now or never.”
Being at the forefront of change at the core became a matter of importance for the young entrepreneur, who says that “it’s important in any organization to always have change. It’s good to have fresh new ideas from people who are willing to take some risk – I’m glad I’m a part of that.”
Past Chair, Horwitz Properties
Former DWBIA chair Larry Horwitz, who served in that capacity for several terms, elected to stay on the Board – because he believes there’s still work to be done, and is eager to support the new group of passionate board members eager to reignite the downtown core.
The author majored in sociology and holds a masters in political science, but Horwitz’s most impressive calling card is his commitment to a “safe, clean, pedestrian-friendly, economically viable, residential friendly city core,” which he told CBC in December. “I love downtown. I love Windsor and I’m committed to both.”
Director: Municipal Representative, Ward 3 Councillor
As a lifelong Windsorite, Bortolin is a panelist and co-host on Rose City Politics and a participant and advocate of the Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market. He’s also a consultant for Parallel 42 Systems. Passionate and committed to the core, Bortolin champions the need to support the community in which we live. As a councillor, his priorities for the community are increased cleanliness in the streets, meticulously maintained parks, urban blight, and continued rejuvenation of the downtown core. The former owner of Rino’s Kitchen and Ale House, Bortolin is also author of Rino’s Kitchen, a cookbook that highlights the best ingredients found throughout Windsor-Essex.