Notorious Saskatoon downtown corner to get facelift

A Saskatoon downtown street corner with a rough reputation has quickly changed.

McDonald's and Olympia close doors, changes 2nd Avenue and 22nd Street

The Olympia Family Restaurant & Atlas Lounge is now closed. Bottega, an Italian restaurant, is opening next week in its spot at 120 2nd Ave. (David Shield/CBC)

 A downtown street corner with a rough reputation has quickly changed.

The north-east corner of 2nd Avenue and 22nd Street was a popular spot for people to hang out.  It was also a problem spot for police.

The McDonald's at the corner closed last week and Olympia Family Restaurant & Atlas Lounge shut its doors.

Earlier this year, Chief of Police Clive Weighill asked city administration to immediately remove the benches and planters from that corner. A report recommending the removal of the streetscaping was submitted but city councillors rejected the idea.

It turns out the removal of the benches wasn't needed to clean up the corner.

A fresh start

Amadeo Vallati is opening an Italian restaurant, which will include a market and deli, where the Olympia was located. He said he's seen a dramatic change to the street since the McDonald's closed down. It's also one of the reasons he decided to open up his new restaurant, Bottega, downtown.

"Second Ave. is a pretty hopping spot," Vallati said. "Downtown is growing. McDonald's closed down. Just saw the opportunity to take over a spot and help downtown grow."

Paul McAra said he had heard the Olympia closed, and was surprised. 

"Maybe it's a good thing," he said, standing in front of the restaurant.

He and his girlfriend used to go to the restaurant. They stopped eating there because of the activity out front.

He said he's noticed that there aren't as many people hanging out at the street corner and will return to check out the new restaurant, which is scheduled to open next week.

Vallati is confident that the street corner has changed.

"Olympia had its history but its time had come to an end."