By Brenlee Coates (photo by Samanta Katz)
“The only barrier to all you can do in this city’s in your head,” says Tim Hoover, acting general manager and part owner of The Good Will Social Club.
He could be talking about just navigating the city and making the most of its offerings – but he’s speaking more intently about the opportunities to add to the city’s landscape.
“Any reason you could move to another city, you could find a way to make it happen here… We need more of that can-do attitude.”
Hoover admits he’s been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug – hard. He’s found success with Union Sound Hall by teaming up with industry friends and coming out with a music venue they can completely identify with.
The engine is purring at Union since opening in the summer of 2013, a venue co-owned by majority owners Sam Colosimo and Kevin Trosky; Hoover and Tyler Sneesby (DJs Co-op and Hunnicutt, respectively); and four other professional music and hospitality industry stakeholders.
The Good Will, at 625 Portage Ave., has a similar hodgepodge of nine multi-talented owners, with Hoover and Sneesby overlapping from Union.
The Good Will is a fresh take on a non-nightclub music venue, with different programming seven days a week. The “social club” title is intentional, as well – the establishment is open for coffee everyday from 7 a.m. and serves beer from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. It also encourages people to come down and plug into its myriad outlets and hang out – taking advantage of frequent breaks to view VHS movies or play pinball.
The diversity in purposes and programming at The Good Will is a product of the various owners’ capabilities. “We all have grand visions for what this could be (and) it became its own animal,” explains Anthony Kowalczyk, co-owner of The Good Will and managing director at ClarkHuot advertising agency.
The original four conceivers of The Good Will kept reaching out to consult experts in their fields, and the idea ended up growing along with the number of owners.
“Everyone has a very valued input,” he goes on. “We all have very focused roles in the organization (and) I think that we’re the best at what we do in each role.” For instance, Abi Torquato is the coffee wizard from Bar Italia – he customarily offers water alongside your dine-in coffee, a thoughtful yet oft absent suggestion – and is an experienced mid-century furniture collector and seller.
His contributions are evident in the carefully curated mix of chairs to choose from in the cozy window seats – and the enviable stock of vintage mugs and tableware.
One of the primary owners, Donavan Robinson, is owner of A Little Pizza Heaven – the go-to late-night eatery in Osborne Village. His second location found its home alongside The Good Will, sharing a dining area and providing the bar snacks for the club.
The stroke of genius is in the fact that the pizza joint is open an hour later each night, meaning the inevitable hunger generated by an evening out can be tended to without even switching locations.
Noel Bernier, a prominent local restaurateur, is another majority partner, as is Jack Moslehi, owner of Opera Nightclub. Other co-owners include veteran local sound engineer Cam Loeppky and celebrated talent booker David Schellenberg.
The team has already lined up some incredible events – hosting six-piece Canadian folk act The Strumbellas, a weekly karaoke night kicked off by guest host Alexa Dirks of Chic Gamine, and a monthly all-vinyl party debuted by DJs Co-op and Hunnicutt. (You’ll still get to be moved to dance by these local faves even though they have proprietary roles.)
The Good Will places an emphasis on inclusivity and a welcoming environment – the attractive space does the job esthetically, but the club went further to incorporate gender-neutral and wheelchair-accessible bathroom stalls. “Those are our values,” explains Hoover. “We wanted a place where everyone can feel safe.”
Hoover admits he doesn’t gig as much as he used to, although with both venues active, he’s likely promoting more than ever. His first foray into bar ownership was focused on his promotional prowess, so he says he didn’t pick up as much of the nuts and bolts of the business then.
“There wasn’t a lot of maturation there; it was a lot of the same.
“I think the real evolution of my career is happening here,” he says. “The big challenge now is The Good Will.
“There’s still a lot to do here… And then I’ll have time to take on some other hare-brained projects,” he laughs.
Here’s hoping he does.