When I was a kid, my parents and grandparents used to tell me about how Downtown Barton Street was the place to be when they were younger.
As I got older, I couldn’t really see what all the appeal was. I used to ride the Barton bus all the time to my very first job and I remember staring out the window at the empty storefronts and wondering where all the life had gone.
It’s no secret that Barton Street has garnered a bit of a reputation over the years as being a little rough and tumble, but things are really starting to turn around in the area.
There are a lot of entrepreneurs and organizations who have taken a chance on the area and it’s paying off: Barton Village is becoming a destination for everybody to enjoy.
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Here are 5 reasons Barton Village is the place to be in Hamilton.
This is a beautiful space, located immediately next door to Hello Baked (another reason to hit up Barton Street). The decor has a mid-century vibe and the service is impeccable. Their baked goods, made lovingly by local businesses, are simply divine and they have an impressive menu of hot and cold drinks. What I love most about this spot is that it’s bright, has window seating and isn’t too loud. It’s a great spot to watch the world of Barton Village go by and maybe get some work done.
Photo courtesy Hendry’s Facebook page
Barbershop by day, bar by night and sometimes a comedy club: what’s not to like. This historic building used to house Hendry’s Shoes — I’m pretty sure this is one of the places my grandmother was referring to when she spoke of Barton’s heyday. Over the past few years, the building has been renovated and the iconic sign has been restored (and it’s beautiful!). What I love about this place is its versatility. Sure, it’s a barbershop but that’s only a small part of it: it’s a meeting place, where people can come together over coffee or drinks or, sometimes, over comedy. It’s a beautifully restored building that I think any history buff can appreciate and the locally sourced beer menu doesn’t hurt either. It’s a unique and beautiful addition to Barton.
So this little market is Barton Street mainstay. Their sandwiches (featured on inthehammer’s Top 5 Sandwiches under 5$) are otherworldly. What strikes me about this store is the variety of people from all walks of life you find there on any given day. It’s a fantastic place to people watch if you can find a space to do so. The staff here are incredibly friendly and have been there for years and, from what I’ve heard, it’s because the owners are incredibly kind and generous. This is a classic Hamilton shop that has weathered the storms of our city and continues to thrive. It’s worth a visit to experience it for yourself.
Photo courtesy Playhouse Cinema’s Facebook page
The Playhouse Cinema, while not directly on Barton Street, is very much a leader in the Barton Village community. While they’re relatively new to the scene, it’s very clear the pride they take in the history of our city and their particular location. The Playhouse has been restored to its former glory and reopened earlier this year to the relief of Hamilton’s film lovers. Their programming is typically off the beaten track but geared towards a variety of audiences. They’ve made strides in connecting with the community, hosting themed nights and experiences aimed at accommodating various audiences with specialized needs (ie: moms with young babies). Earlier this week, the Playhouse announced that they’d sold over 4000 memberships since opening in Hamilton, so what they’re doing down there at Barton and Sherman is certainly resonating with the community.
541 feels, to me, like the place that really ignited this change on Barton Street. They took this historic space and made it into a community hub where everyone can enjoy their amazing food, a hot beverage and good company. The service they provide to the immediate community has gone far beyond just feeding the hungry; they’ve shed light on the problems that our community faces and they have been an example to us all as to how to approach them — by recognizing the inherent dignity in every single human being. 541 is a really stunning eatery with truly fantastic food but they’re worth visiting because it can change the way you look at the world and the people in it.
What’s your favourite spot in Barton Village?