The Garage Sports Bar finds new home in Bow Valley Square after Eau Claire exit

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The demolition of Eau Claire Market to make way for the Green Line LRT affected a lot of people, including Charlie Mendelman, who operated The Garage Sports Bar there for almost 30 years.

But, always living in the positive, he searched around and found a new space that he believes will do just fine, and has already reopened his popular bar and event centre in Bow Valley Square.

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Being close to his former Eau Claire location is a big plus, but so is the busyness of the Oxford Properties complex, which, besides the retail hub boasts four towers offering a total of 1.4 million square feet of office space — home to a large community of potential new customers. A number of his regular accounts have been tenants for many years.

Mendelman certainly knows the area well. Born and raised in the Elbow Park area, his father had a jewelry store along 8th Avenue S.W.

He moved away from Calgary a few times — to the University of British Columbia, for 10 years as the Pepsi-Cola bottler in Kelowna, B.C., and in Toronto for five. But upon returning to Calgary, he was working for an investment company when a file came over his desk that said a car dealership was for sale. Always the opportunist, he became the owner of South Centre Fine Cars along Macleod Trail and took the advanced management course at Harvard University.

After selling the dealership, Mendelman bought The Garage in 1995 and has been running it ever since — although he is quick to admit the real work is done by his general manager, Nadia Delegarde, who has been running the place for more than 20 years.

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She has wonderful relationships with regular corporate accounts that use The Garage as an ideal place for their staff to have fun and bond. Mendelman says Delegarde really knows how to organize events, from adapting to budgets and being very active on the floor, to sending “thank you for coming” notes.

She believes the new location, much closer to Centre Ice, will be much more active during lunch and happy hour times.

Almost all of the staff from Eau Claire — many with more than 10 years at the Garage — are working in the new space, with the addition of a few new faces raising the complement to around 30.

The new space is similar to the old and has been furnished to show the same fun atmosphere. Mendelman says it wasn’t easy to find, and credits the help of Matthew Russell, Oxford director of national urban retail leasing, to make the deal come together. Speed was essential, and he also gives a pat on the back to Coun. Terry Wong, who was a big help, along with Korr Design.

The building, accessed from either 6th Avenue S.W. or inside the shopping mall, has been a pub under several different names, including the Royal Duke and Royal Exchange. But this time it is an interactive environment furnished with 12 pool tables, ping pong, darts, foosball, pinball and buck hunter arcade game. It is all accompanied by great pub food with a 6,000-square-foot, free-flow room that can welcome parties from five to 300.

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The Garage opened last week and Mendelman says every seat was taken, and he had just booked a party of 120 for the next day.

“We are thrilled to welcome The Garage,” says Jill Horan, general manager of Bow Valley Square. “Its arrival here marks an exciting new chapter for both our office customers and our neighbourhood. The mix of entertainment, dining and socializing complements the vibrant atmosphere of our office complex.”


The National accessArts Centre (NaAC) has appointed a new slate of directors and welcomed back founding president and CEO Jung-Suk (JS) Ryu as its president and CEO. And effective Jan. 6, 2025, Karly Mortimer will complete her maternity leave to serve as co-CEO. “For the first time in NaAC History, more than half of the board members will be representing the disability community, providing our organization with the perspectives of lived experience and ensuring that we remain committed to the one community we have been founded to support — artists living with disabilities,” says Ryu.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at He can be reached at 403-830-4622.

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