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surprise! it’s a …

Check this out. I met a friend last week at a new restaurant. They have quite a stunning interior. Chic and stylish, but also comfortable and inviting. Bright and fun with some of the most amazing light fixtures I’ve ever seen.

Now here is the most amazing part….it’s Moxie’s in the Dartmouth Crossing business park. That’s right, in a business park. Wait a second…what was that sound? Yes, I believe it actually was the sound of hell freezing over (in my world, at least).

I was so looking forward to reconnecting with my friend, that I only silently cursed for a second (or two) when she suggested meeting here. I’ll admit it. I made a judgment. But you have to agree, it was a well educated judgment. I was totally imagining a Boston Pizza, a Swiss Chalet, an East Side Marios…you get the idea. Ugh.

I’ll also admit that I am one of “those” people who will gladly haul out my soapbox and preach about why it’s critical to have a vibrant downtown. And how business parks are very quickly killing our downtown areas. I will also tell you that I’m not a hypocrite either, because I freely acknowledge that I, too, frequent the big box stores. But, it’s not for the experience.

Especially now as a homeowner – with a home staging & design business – there are some really affordable and stylish items to be found. Since I pride myself on advising where to splurge and where to save without skimping on style, the big box is a necessity. Many designer lines are now available and are much, much more accessible through some of these stores. But I’d still prefer to see some of these key big box stores located in a downtown environment. I vehemently support my downtown in many other ways.

But I digress. Needless to say, I was wrong in my pre-judging. Moxie’s Bar & Grill was quite a lovely surprise. In truth, I was blown away. If it was downtown, it would easily become one of my favorite places based on décor alone. Lighting, red leather booths, dark dramatic wood, large & interesting artwork come together to give this place a great vibe. Very un-Halifax.

Then, I went to the bathroom. I believe the bathroom is the most telling about a bar or restaurant….am I right, ladies? Notice the beautiful lavender, iridescent, pearlized mosaic tiles. Umm…and what is there to say about the two make-up chairs, complete with individual mirrors and your own control over the lighting above? You have to check it out for yourselves to believe it.

In my opinion, this place was clearly designed with people in mind. Not just shoppers trying to get in and out quickly to carry on with their day. Real people. People who may actually eventually live here and call this their neighbourhood.

Granted, you’d have a long way to go to convince me to live here, but the ultimate design of the entire Dartmouth Crossing development is to have a mix of residential, retail and business. The “village” area that’s already been built – complete with cobblestone walkways, nicer lighting and integrated parking – is evidence of this. According to their website, there is much more to come…green space, a fish park, amphitheatre…

But, back to Moxie’s. I had the burger and it was disappointing (a la Harvey’s style). However, any menu with sweet potato fries is worth a second chance in my books. And the all black, too revealing tops, too short skirts, bare legs and boots “uniform” of the lovely and kind staff greatly diminish the style and class of the place. I am hoping these are just the final “bugs” yet to be worked out.

At the end of the day, it’s still in a business park. And that comes at odds with what I hope for in my downtown. But it is doing things differently. I applaud the efforts so far. I can give credit where credit is due. Check it out if you find yourself there…I promise not to judge you too harshly.

I love that wonderful design can be found in the most unexpected places. And I have learned to never say never.

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