The elevation of a menu served to a township that relies on the support of its community. A spot associated with food, wine, books, music and merchandise
Synonym, a wine and coffee bar located on James Street North in Hamilton. Hamilton’s artists, art galleries and culture form the backdrop for places that create a community. Founded in 2018, it has been run since June 2020 by, Danielle Nicholls and Melanie Bayaborda, who have been members to the world of hospitality for fifteen years. Danielle is a connoisseur of cheese and worked as a sommelier at The Living Vine, and Melanie is a chef. They decided to take over the project transmitting their ideals, culinary and cultural, to the bar. They keet the design and the name chosen for the restaurant by the previous owners. The philosophy of community, inspired by the cafè, distinguishes Synonym from its competitors. It is not a bar where you can sip on coffee and wine, but a workplace, a store where you can brace the restaurant through the purchase of merchandise, books and food products. The previous owners had art and décor covered, but they came into the space wanting to elevate the products and food served. «They were designers first, and we want to put food first». Melanie was a regular patron as she lived in Hamilton and Danielle worked with them.
The idea behind the renovation of the place dated 1895, was to create corners around the cafè: light walls, exposed bricks and warm lighting were projected by Studio Barda. «The project’s objective was to create a space that was social to emphasize the utility of a neighborhood cafe» , said the insiders. The focal point of the space is the counter terrace that bears the signature of Max Lamb and the man-made marble counter. The designer has chosen every piece of marble and fused it together to create a piece. The counter has become an analogy of the sense of fraternity. Until March 2020, the cafè embraced the vegan and vegetarian philosophy. It now offers a menu, introducing customers to the cultures that characterize Canada. Apart from the Vietnamese coffee offered, which is a dairy free, vegan drink that has been maintained, the owners favor products that are produced in the locality in light that they believe in supporting each other with. The food and wine come from producers who use low-intervention techniques. Canada has been a wine-growing region since the Fifth century. Danielle and Melanie’s take advantage of the resources to match their menu by telling their customers the story behind it.
Despite the pandemic, they have continued to stimulate the encounter between cultures by proposing a concept linked to food and wine: dinner kits. Inside these kits, Melanie suggested products from farmers, stories and cultures that reflect the origins of the people. Italian, French and Mexican courses allow people to come into contact with traditions, letting them travel through flavors. Having organized a compost program to reduce waste, they use biodegradable cups and take-out boxes. Melanie ideated to launch a line of merchandise in collaboration with Off Menu, a project that focuses on restaurants’ merchandise obtaining total profits from sales made through their products. They are partners with Habit Apparel. Being a project that includes tote bags and clothing, it represents a campaign to financially support businesses in trouble during the pandemic. If clienteles go to Synonym with the merchandise bought, they can get a discount on future purchases.
Synonym in addition to the above is an independent bookshop, run by Danielle. She has decided to propose a selection of literature that encourages customers positivity. Among the bookshelves, the patrons can browse through cookbooks, wine magazines, poetry, graphic novels and coffee table books. With an eye towards the future, Synonym is a place where cultural activities of book clubs, disk jockey (DJ) sets and exhibitions will be held, highlighting the talent of towns artists. There is an event that takes place in Hamilton every month called Super Art Crawl. In participation, Synonym would invite five DJ’s to play in their space. It is due to the pandemic that they haven’t been able to incorporate this of late. Their music selection is independent indie bands. The baristas have free will to choose music to play at Synonym. They are building a sense of trust in people’s taste in music, incorporating music from Hamilton based bands. Of the businesses that are part of the BIA of James Street, thirty to forty businesses are part of a give-away program, in which each is donating a gift card and social media freebees. Their aim is to elevate everyone on the block and in the neighborhood. One of the projects they plan to make in the coming year is opening a back patio. Danielle wants to work towards collaborative events with artist in Hamilton. They look forward to introducing wine linked events and a book club, considering the pandemic, as few people visit the bar.IMAGE GALLERY
328 James St N