Reporter Pat Maloney talks music and CDs with Grooves owner Troy Hutchison over lunch at Globally local.
Chatting over Chick-uns.
am not a vegan – I needed a dictionary to even spell the word. Troy Hutchison isn’t either. But he’s one of those relaxed guys who’s self-aware enough to know he should eat a little less meat, a little more plants. He’s also sharp enough to know the unique merchants along an improving stretch of Dundas Street must stick together. So we leave Grooves – London’s last great record store, which he’s owned since 2004 – for Globally Local, the groundbreaking fast-food vegan joint a half-dozen doors down. “I’ve been meaning to try it. I want everybody on this block to do really well,” he says of the stretch between Wellington Street and Clarence Street. “A high tide raises all boats.” “We’ve got to set ourselves apart from the big-box stores. Interesting places and experiences are appealing.” Globally Local looks like a run-of-themill fast food joint – picture McDowell’s from Coming to America. And the food tastes like that too. But everything is plant-based, which attracts vegans and non-vegans alike. Owner Chris McInnes has described it as “vegan McDonald’s” and Canada’s first vegan fast-food joint. Hutchison orders their biggest seller, the Famous Burger. The patty’s made from chickpeas, not meat. I get the Crispy Chick-un combo – fries, a diet Coke and a sandwich made from plants and vegetables, not actually chicken. It doesn’t taste any different than your typical fast-food fare. It’s good, Hutchison agrees. “(Mine tastes) very much like a Whopper,” he says. “I feel like they’re aiming it at guys like me. I’m trying not to eat too much meat but I like fast food. It’s an interesting niche.” So, too, is Grooves, which moved into its new home at 236 Dundas St. last fall (it was formerly on Clarence Street, near Call The Office). It’s thriving even as people believe digital music sales own the industry. “Vinyl sales made more money than digital in the U.K. last year,” he says. “It’s an interesting time.” When he needed to move, he knew he had to stay downtown. As a destination business, it’s the kind of location his loyal customers expect. He’s a little philosophical about Grooves. “We’re a music store – CDs and records. But I like to think of it as a gathering hub. It’s a friendly space for music fans.” On the day of our Globally Local lunch, Hutchison and a loyal customer weren’t speaking Japanese, but they may as well have been. The guy had just spent $65 on a re-issued Buckingham Nicks CD from Japan and wanted something else from the Orient. “I wouldn’t mind the Nick Drake one from Japan,” he says. Hutchison replies: “Do you want me to put in a special order?” “Yes please,” the guy says. “And you know I want Japanese, right? Paper sleeves?” Huh? Hutchison later explains that Japan is famed for the sound quality of its CDs and records. True aficionados want their music pressed there. And the paper sleeves? That’s shorthand for a re-creation of the original record’s inner sleeve, re-sized for a CD. “I was definitely a music snob when I was a teenager” in Woodstock, Hutchison says. “But . . . it’s personal. It’s just great that people like music. It doesn’t matter (what kind).”