NS: Tapped out -- Hart & Thistle pub on Halifax waterfront closes

Geordon Omand for Metro Halifax
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Owner Bruce Keith said 'At the end of the day I have to do what’s best for my family and my extended family here at the Hart and Thistle.'

Halifax gastropub Hart & Thistle announces it is closing its doors after five years on the city's waterfront.

[HALIFAX, NS] - After five years of business on the Halifax waterfront, the Hart & Thistle Gastropub & Brewery is closing.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said owner and longtime restaurateur Bruce Keith.

“At the end of the day I have to do what’s best for my family and my extended family here at the Hart and Thistle,” he added. “This is the right decision.”

The Hart & Thistle was located in Historic Properties on Lower Water Street, with a large patio overlooking the harbour.

Keith said the reason for the closure was “no question” due to the unsustainable debt load he took on after closing another restaurant venture and while preparing the Hart & Thistle space for opening in 2009.

“The debt isn’t structured well. It’s high interest,” he said. “It just got to the point where it’s pulling us backwards so fast that we can’t get ahead.”

Staff were told of the closure on Tuesday night during a meeting at the restaurant. On Wednesday morning, the gastropub announced on its Facebook page that they were done.

Keith said he felt “gutted” by the decision to close the restaurant’s doors.

“I’ve been pushing the ball uphill for a long time.”

He cited a number of other contributing factors in the closing, including low foot traffic.

“If you have a business on the waterfront it’s a hard scrape through the winter months,” said Gordon Stewart, head of the province’s restaurant association.

“I’m actually quite shocked,” he said of hearing about the Hart & Thistle’s shutting down.

Despite the closure, Keith did not blame the restaurant’s location.

“This is a great spot,” said Keith. “It will work. It does work. It just needs someone to come in with a clean debt line and the place makes money out of the box.

“Someone’s going to get very lucky with a restaurant here.”

Organizations: Hart

Geographic location: Historic Properties, Lower Water Street

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