The Simmons Building, formerly a mattress manufacturer, sat empty along the banks of the Bow River from the mid-sixties until just a few months ago. With the revitalization of the East Village heating up, the Simmons Building was to be an anchor showing naysayers that the East Village will be the next big thing in Calgary whether they believed it or not.
Over 200 proposals were submitted to redevelop the Simmons Building. The winning proposal had plans to redevelop the space to be shared between Charbar, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. Three names, well known in Calgary, who are at the top of their game in food. Charbar…The Butcher, Sidewalk Citizen…The Baker and Phil & Sebastian…The Coffee Makers. It was a match made in heaven.
When you walk into the Simmons building you can feel the dynamic energy of the space and the businesses. Soaring ceilings, exposed beams and vintage lighting make you want to find a chair, sit and stay for awhile.
Turn left to visit Phil and Sebastian for some of the best coffee in Calgary. Want to know more about what you are drinking? Just ask the barista. P&S employees are well versed in the coffee they serve and can answer most any question you could throw at them. Just don’t ask for a vanilla latte….they don’t do flavors here. They prefer to let their coffee’s flavors shine through. In fact, they would suggest you try their coffee black. No cream and sugar needed.
Feeling peckish? Head through and to the right to visit Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. I’ve been a HUGE fan of baker Aviv since he hit the Calgary scene years ago. He has elevated his sourdough bread to an art form. If you haven’t tried his bread, you MUST. The bakery at the Simmons Building doesn’t just serve bread either. It has grab and go items, fresh bread, fresh pastries and more.
And cream puffs. Oh yes, he makes those too.
Through and to the left is Charbar, the sister restaurant to Calgary favorite, Charcut. Charbar pays homage to the Argentinian Asador. Meats are charcoal roasted in the Argentinian method leaving them deliciously tender and amazingly delicious.
Meat isn’t the only thing on the menu, though. Charbar also offers a staggering array of fresh seafood. Definitely give their ceviche with tiger’s milk a try. Feeling like a pizza? Check out their Argentinian pizza, aka Fugazza, made on Sidewalk Citizen sourdough crust.
While the food is front and center, make sure to take a look around to appreciate everything that went into making the space what it is. Most of the wood, floors and beams you see are original to the Simmons Building. Mezzanines were removed to allow for a more open space to the second floor.
Upstairs there is both a large event space and a more intimate private dining room. In the ceiling of the private dining room, you can still see the original metal doors leading from the feather chute. Little things like this keep the Simmons grounded in its history even while it is elevated to new heights.
Head up to the third floor to the rooftop patio overlooking East Village. This patio was a labor of love. The original roof had no view so the roof had to be raised up to give a view. It was definitely worth the work. Today it is a gorgeous space with spectacular views of the river and the river walk. When open, the rooftop patio offers a snack menu all its own.
After everything I’ve written, I can still think of more I need to say but instead, I will just say….Go, visit! See the Simmons Building and all it has to offer….even if it is for a coffee.
Simmons Building, 618 Confluence Way SE, Calgary