May 19, 2023
| accelerator

The Rabbit Hole finds new clientele with My Main Street data

Municipality: City of Ottawa

Ottawa cocktail bar and restaurant, Rabbit Hole, opened on Sparks Street in 2019 to a crowd of lawyers, bankers, Members of Parliament and office workers looking to unwind post-work. Co-owner Aaron Juneau envisioned a trajectory where the bar and its tucked-away speakeasy, the Jackalope, would stand next to renowned cocktail bars in London or New York City. “We want people flying into Ottawa to say we have to go down to the Rabbit Hole—we heard (it is) the spot to go,” says Juneau.

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo

But COVID-19 turned the downtown core of the nation’s capital quiet, jeopardizing those dreams. “All the bankers, the law firms, the office building people that were supposed to be downtown – we lost that market – the lunch and after-work crowd,” he says. It left the high-end cocktail bar in unknown territory.

That is until they heard from a My Main Street Ambassador. The My Main Street program, which aims to revitalize business communities through hands-on support and is funded with a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and delivered by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO), felt like an antidote to the confusion. Through it, Juneau got access to a $10,000 non-repayable contribution and in-depth market research on the demographics, interests and social media use in the Rabbit Hole’s surrounding area.

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Ellie Dellis)

Juneau says the research helped the Rabbit Hole identify a fresh new demographic in the form of a younger crowd. “We steered a little bit more into nightlife to have that crowd come down to our patios and rooftop patios,” he says. The owners also looked to attract a more seasonal crowd with cottages or homes nearby. Juneau says he was surprised by the high household income within that area. “We looked into how we could attract them based on our cocktail list,” adding higher-end products into the mix.

With the research in mind, the Rabbit Hole used some of the funding to invest in patio furniture and decor to better cater to the nightlife crowd and private parties. “(We also bought) some other items for the speakeasy to be able to showcase cocktails in the proper glassware to elevate that experience.”

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo

Over the past few years, the space has evolved. Juneau says the patio, cocktail bar and speakeasy each draw its own clientele based on the offerings’ unique vibes. “Our lunches are back now so we've seen an influx in sales for sure—and that party on the weekends is still going as well,” he says.

Even with the changes, Juneau says they’re still going in the direction they always wanted to go. “We’re slowly moving forward with it every day,” he says. With inflation, it’s a tough time to be in the restaurant business. “Things are getting more expensive,” he says, pointing to the price of fuel, food and alcohol. But Juneau is confident the bar’s offering will continue to bring in an eclectic crowd, putting the business even more on the map. “You want to have the best thing to offer guests so they want to return. It’s all about the experience.”

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo

About My Main Street

My Main Street is a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets and local businesses in southern Ontario. The Canadian Urban Institute and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario have partnered to deliver My Main Street through two program streams. Learn more at

About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


My Main Street is operated by the Canadian Urban Institute and funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

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