Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Dusty Owl's Home Nest: Swizzles Bar & Grill

We've been hosting the Dusty Owl at Swizzles Bar & Grill for nearly six years. In this interview with Amanda Earl in the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter, Steve gives a quick rundown of how we got started there:

"Cathy and I found out in early 2004 that our longtime friend Tanja Pecnic had taken over ownership of Swizzles Bar & Grill sometime before Christmas 2003 – I don’t know exactly when, and I don’t like pressing the issue on these sorts of matters, as it is literally her business. Although I had been meaning to for some time by then, we didn’t drop by Swizzles to see her until late that February. You see, I had been stopping in from time to time at the Glue Pot Pub – a couple blocks west along Queen Street – since 1990 or so, and Cathy and I had become regulars there when we moved into the neighbourhood in 1996. Tanja began working the bar at The Pot sometime in the summer of 1997, a couple months before Cathy and I got married. So Tanja has a bit of a history with us… she’s kinda like family we never want to lose touch with.

"For a number of reasons – especially the fact that Cathy and I were taking part-time courses at Carleton University at the time – we hadn’t seen Tanja in a while, so this was a reunion of sorts. After a lot of interested small-talk – more than the just the usual hi-how-are-you-today kinda stuff – Dusty Owl came up, though I’m not sure exactly how. But after a good twenty or so minutes of discussion, Tanja suggested that Swizzles would make a good home for a revived Dusty Owl Reading Series.

"At this time, Cathy, Kate, Nick, and some other friends of ours were meeting as an informal sort of writers group over breakfast at the erstwhile El Morocco diner near the corner of Bank and Lisgar streets in downtown Ottawa. I ran the idea of a revived Dusty Owl at the proposed venue by our ad-hoc group, and everyone enthusiastically agreed.

"And so, on 26 March 2004, at 5pm on a mostly sunny afternoon (though we wouldn’t’ve known it as we were in a basement bar) the Dusty Owl Reading Series took flight again for the first time in five or so years with a good twenty-five or so people in attendance. It was, by the way, entirely open-mic, open to everyone who wanted to stand and be heard."

Swizzles Bar & Grill can be found in the heart of lovely downtown Ottawa, at 246B Queen Street (on the south side of the street, halfway between Bank and Kent). Look for the stairs on the west side of the building, under the green awning.

There's awlways something happening at Swizzles! Check out their website at

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