You may not know who he is, but there’s a good chance he’s made your night out on the town the best ever. Richard Lambert is the co-proprietor of such Toronto hotspots as Parts & Labour, Dog & Bear, and The Hoxton. He’s set trends before even the earliest of adopters, and that’s why Richard is today’s Tastemaker…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
I love people. I guess that’s why I have excelled in this business. I am very open and honest – brutally honest sometimes. I love contemporary art, fashion, music and sports. I am extremely close with my family despite the fact that they are so far away.
How do you not only stay on top of the latest trends but set them as well?
Shortly after I moved to Toronto from the UK I became a waiter at a College Street restaurant. As my network grew I began to understand what people wanted and didn’t want. I believe my people skills are a large reason all of The Social Group’s venues are considered genuinely cool. Opening our first venue, The Social, a result of our success at 69 Vintage, helped bridge the gap between fashion and music. It sparked a different experience at that time that has since seemed to cause a ripple effect down Queen West. I am not really conscious of being a trend setter – I just do what feels right.
What made you choose Parkdale in 2010 as the location to open Parts & Labour?
It was the obvious choice for us to move further west on Queen into Parkdale. The gentrification on Queen West meant we needed to look for an area where we could be creative, and Parkdale was largely untouched.
What inspires you to open a new restaurant?
Bringing something new to the city is inspiration enough! The anticipation of how it will be received coupled with the obvious excitement and energy of opening something new.
What are some of the key ingredients to making a nightlife venue like The Hoxton a hotspot?
Choosing the right neighbourhood, a great booker (Embrace Presents), strong design (Castor Design), a good sound system (PK Sound), and most importantly having a lot of energy are important elements in creating a successful nightclub. It all starts with the owners then filters down through the staff and on to the customers. It helps to love what you do and have fun.
What have been some of the proudest moments of your career so far?
My father coming to see the Dog & Bear was a great moment. We named the Dog & Bear after my dad’s pub in Canterbury that I grew up in, and I had to get his stamp of approval. Mostly though, I am proud of what Jesse and I have achieved in bringing people together and showing them a good time.
What are your favourite dishes at your restaurants and why?
Parts & Labour: 1) Beet salad. It’s fresh light and healthy. 2) Miami ribs. Tasty, rich and crispy.
Dog & Bear: 1) Full English breakfast. It is the best thing to eat while watching a premier league game.
And what about cocktails?
An Old Fashioned before dinner and a Caesar with brunch.
Photo by James Drobik, EMBRACE.