ZANE VISITS: SAINT JAMES
You lived in Toronto and worked on West Queen West. How did you decide to move to Hamilton?
It’s definitely been a dream for a long time. It happened organically. The opportunity came up. Rocky is a really talented chef so he’s got the food side down. Myself and Dave have the coffee side down so, we combined both our visions food and coffee. We knew it was kind of a rare thing to go somewhere and get the best of both. It’s either a great restaurant and a lot of the time the coffee is overlooked or you’re at a coffee shop that has pretty crappy food with great coffee.
How long has Saint James been open?
Almost 2 years. Rocky and his wife have the Saint James Supper Club where they basically go into someone’s home and they would have a dinner party. They would sell tickets and then provide an experience. That has been a huge success.
What have you seen change in Hamilton in the past little while?
This street has changed like crazy in less than the past 6 years. It’s become more of a community.
Transitioning from Queen St to James St. How have you adjusted? What do you love about Hamilton?
There are some similarities to Toronto but it definitely feels different, people have a bit of a different mentality in Hamilton. The vibe is very different, more relaxed. People were really open to a place like this opening up and with all the restaurants that have opened. They were really hungry for it, whereas Toronto you can go anywhere and get great stuff. In Toronto people are a little more numb too it. In Hamilton there is a bit more excitement for this kind of growth.
What are your favourite spots in the city?
For a good burger, I love Hamburger on King William. There’s a bunch of restaurants by Other Bird and they have a taco spot called The Mule, which I like. Chef Vittorio has a spot in Toronto and he just opened up Born n’ Raised which is a cool joint. The Brain is great for drinks; they have a very eclectic vibe in there.
I lived here before I moved to Toronto and this street was dead. Seeing this street change, for example with art crawl, is special.
Is there a focus or direction to the food?
Rocky looks to create things that are fresh and exciting. He always has ideas on the back burner. Monday to Friday our menu is consistent but the weekend brunch specials is where he fleshes a lot of his ideas out and flexes his creative muscles. We are also gearing up to launching a few nights a week of dinner service.