Originally Published on: Nutgraph Weekly
Written by: Kirk Kitzul
Pinball, punk rock and perogies are not often mentioned together but a new business plans to offer all three when it opens next month.
House of Targ will open in mid-April, offering arcade games, live music and, of course, perogies. Located on Bank Street in Old Ottawa South, the new arcade/restaurant/venue is the brainchild of Paul Granger and co-owners Mark McHale and Kevin Berger.
Granger, who is half-Ukrainian, said the concept for House of Targ emerged 12 years ago in a rehearsal space on Main Street. It was a place for bands to jam and work on new material. A recording studio was installed in the early years, which has since moved into the main floor of his home, Granger said.
It wasn’t until they started hosting shows on the last Friday of every month that the space gained popularity, Granger said.
The concept behind House of Targ was inspired by the space receiving a copy of the 1980 arcade game “Targ,” which is where Granger said he got the name.
“Somebody dropped it off for free and just kind of said ‘I’ve got this machine, do you want it?’” Granger said. He said he thought it would be cool to have in the space for the musicians to play around on.
Granger said the donation of a second machine, pointing to a diner-themed pinball game, led him to start fixing the machines as a hobby.
“And then I kind of got addicted and I started buying old machines and fixing them,” Granger said.
He said people started offering him machines because they knew Granger was such a fan. That led him to learn about Ottawa’s community of old-school arcade game fans.
“But they don’t have anywhere to go out in public and do it … because it just doesn’t really exist anymore,” Granger said.
“The music and the machines balance really well,” Granger said. The monthly shows started to get so popular Granger said he didn’t even have to advertise. As the machines multiplied the rehearsal space became very popular among both gaming fans and musicians.
Now 12 years have passed and Granger and his arcade games will be appearing in an official House of Targ location, set to open in the coming weeks.
“We’ve been looking for a place to do it properly for I guess two years now,” Granger said. Zoning and licensing constraints combined with rent costs made it difficult to find a location where Granger could offer exactly what he wanted.
“I think it will bring something nice and positive to the neighborhood,” he said.
Granger said food was a must to satisfy the requirements of their liquor license and he decided his ancestor’s dough-based specialty would be great.
“Most people like perogies, we could do something really interesting with them,” he said.
“Everything there in our kitchen is going to be handmade on site,” Granger said. The perogy menu will feature weekly specials as well as dessert and vegan perogies.
Granger said he wants to support real, dedicated musicians by offering them a place to play and treating them well while they’re there.
“I was always supported well by that community and by those people,” said Granger, a long-time musician himself.
In order to give back to the community even further, each month the House of Targ will have a designated charity game. All proceeds from that game will be donated to the charity, which will be selected each month.
Granger said he has an internet campaign planned which will lead up to the grand opening as a way to foster momentum and build curiosity. If people sign up for the newsletter on the House of Targ website they will start receiving updates at the beginning of April.
Granger said the House of Targ plans to issue a monthly zine featuring gaming, music, food and more as a little something extra.
“We don’t want it to be … just a bar, just a restaurant or just an arcade” said Granger. “We want to do something that’s more legendary.”