'Synergy' between businesses bringing tourism to Kingsville

Tourism is up in Kingsville​, businesses are growing — and entrepreneurs are excited.

'Most business owners realize we're standing on each others' shoulders all the time'

Troy Loop says it's been a great summer for business and tourism in Kingsville. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Tourism is up in Kingsville​, businesses are growing — and entrepreneurs are excited.

Hotels, restaurants and shops say they've been working together to promote Kingsville as a whole. And it's working.

"Kingsville seems to be having a boom," said Troy Loop with the Jack's Group, which operates Jack's Gastropub.

A "synergy" is happening with all of the entrepreneurs in town, he explained, and entrepreneurs are working together with the same goals and same appreciation of tourism in Kingsville.

He said tourism has evolved in the last five years with the wine trail at the core of its draw, supported by a distillery and brewery trail, restaurants and accommodations. 

Businesses say Kingsville draws in visitors from the Toronto area, the United States, and abroad. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"I think one of the beautiful things that's happened in town is that most business owners realize we're standing on each others' shoulders all the time," he said.

"And each and every one of these businesses is great in and of itself, but together, that's what's really moving Kingsville forward."

Keeping up with demand

In fact, Loop said, Jack's Gastropub is expanding its brew house, the Banded Goose Brewing Company, to try and keep up with the demand. They'll be opening up a new tap room on Main Street in about three months.

The expansion will also allow the business — which also operates as an inn — to double its guest rooms with seven new rooms in the new space and start a concierge service.

Both Jack's and the Grove Hotel operators said they're almost always full during the summer months and sometimes have to turn people away.

There are three new businesses opening on Main Street, including a new tap room from the Jack's Group. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"We've almost been unable to keep up," said Jennifer Flynn, the operations manager of the Grove Hotel and Brew House.

"Weekends are always busy, but during the week, we've certainly seen a definite trend upwards in terms of our occupancy at the hotel," adding they're currently running at about 80 per cent occupancy.

Visitors from all over

Flynn said she's been seeing a lot of visitors from the Toronto area as well as people from overseas, including many from the Netherlands who visit the area on business trips related to the greenhouse industry.

The Grove says it can't always keep up with the demand for rooms at the hotel. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Other business owners have noticed a lot of American tourists as well from California, Illinois and Kentucky.

And Nelson Santos, the mayor of Kingsville, said the town has even been visited by celebrities like Gene Simmons, Bryan Adams and Margaret Atwood.

Lodging-wise, Loop believes the town could use triple the number of rooms it has now, and he'd like to see the town focus on setting up even more accommodations.

'A destination place'

With the success of tourism also comes a strain on finding workers.

"Staffing's always a challenge. Certainly in a small town, I think it's more of a challenge in terms of finding good staff for all of the businesses, because we've all been busy in the Kingsville area," said Flynn.

The operations manager of the Grove Hotel and Brewhouse says tourism in Kingsville is great overall. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

In addition to Jack's opening up its new tap room in the next few months, that new space is neighboured by two other new businesses that will be opening in the near future: a new Wineology location and a new bakery.

Santos said this summer has been a great season for the community. Numbers are up in terms of resident visits and tourist visits, and the plan is to continue nurturing and growing that. 

"We're going to develop really a tourism plan that identifies what kind of outreach are we going to do, what kind of marketing should we be looking at," he said, hoping to grow it further. 

"It's just becoming a destination place."

About the Author

Katerina Georgieva is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Windsor. She has also worked for CBC in Charlottetown, Toronto and Winnipeg.