When a Windsor real estate investor, who made his entrepreneurial start with his widely successful cabinet-making company, got into the Little Italy restaurant business, he wanted to create nothing but the best.
Vern Myslichuk, owner of Better Made Cabinets and dozens of investment properties throughout the city, knew he had to come up with something big if he was going to open a restaurant on Erie Street. He wanted his food and even his building to introduce a mix of modern architectural flavours, while paying tribute to the traditional Via Italia culture.
Above all else, though, Myslichuk wanted to create an experience—from the curb appeal to the interior design to the care in the kitchen. He landed on the name Bacchus, the Roman god, who owes his storyline to his Greek predecessor Dionysus—both of them being gods of food, wine and fertility.
“I wanted to build something over the top,” Myslichuk said of his restaurant that opened in August 2017.
He spared no details, stripping what he calls the more “boring” modern brick from the building’s exterior walls and replacing it with a bright, white finish that continues to draw attention from passersby.
“I didn’t want to do just another stucco job. I wanted people to look at this and say: This guy’s got problems,” Myslichuk said, only half joking. “And people are noticing. I see people walk by and they look up and gawk.”
Creating and building a high-end product is nothing new for the Windsor businessman. He and the management team at Better Made Cabinets, a company he’s owned for 30 years, have gone all out to design high-end kitchen cabinetry and millwork.
“Everything we do is over the top with Better Made Cabinets and we have that same philosophy here,” Myslichuk said. “Our standards are just so high. There’s just no other way. It’s the only way we do things.”
Myslichuk owned the building for years before he decided to go into the restaurant business. He took over from the previous tenant July 31 and mapped out the details of how he would like to reinvent the space.
He and his team shut down the place, gutted the restaurant and rebuilt it in just four days. They opened on a Friday night to a line of customers.
“The tile was still wet,” Myslichuk said about the quick turnaround. “It was a crazy flip. People who were here a week before came back and it had all changed—the staff was different, the menu was different, everything was different.”
The attention to detail reaches deep into the kitchen as well with nothing but the finest ingredients going into every recipe. As he says, he wants “the best pasta, the best breads, the best everything.”
He recounted a story about how he may have given his staff heart attacks by demanding fresher and fresher bread. First, it was made a few times a week, then daily. Now, the bread is made fresh every four hours.
“But it’s fabulous when it’s that fresh,” Myslichuk said.
Before he opened the restaurant, he did his homework with the menu. Learning how to source the best meat in the country, he travelled to places like Montreal and Toronto. As a result, he brings in some of the finest cuts of beef. His steaks are aged no less than 28 days before he buys them and, for good measure, he ages them another 10 at the restaurant.
“It’s the best I can buy,” Myslichuk said. “I can’t buy a better piece of meat.”
Bacchus adds an important component to the Via Italia neighbourhood, where business owners take great pride in the traditions and culture. Myslichuk and his team have brought a modern fine-dining experience to the area, brightening up an older building and injecting new life into the street’s mix of businesses.
He also plans to open a cocktail bar, named Verna-Q-lar, in the same building. The plan is to once again offer an elegant experience for his customers. In the coming weeks, he’ll also introduce a light show, turning the front of his building into a canvass for theatrical productions he predicts will attract pedestrian traffic.