By Ania Medrek
Once a month, Gillian Young prepares her West Annex apartment into a private dinner party setting. Twelve chairs are positioned around a long wooden table and the cutlery is put into place. The guests arrive and are ushered into the lounge area, where they meet each other for the first time.
“From young university students to the owners of a wine company, anyone who appreciates good food and wine, are interested in the dinner parties,” says Young.
Young, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student, and her business partner Durant Ellis, an experienced chef, came up with the idea for Hidden Lounge while chatting over breakfast one morning.
“Durant wanted to run his own kitchen, cook in his own style and not have to follow other people’s rules,” says Young.
Ellis creates every dish they serve, which can be anything from chicken risotto and beef tenderloin to fancier fare like quail, depending on how much the guests choose to pay.
“A three-course meal costs $40 and the prices go up from there. We have served eight to ten course meals before,” says Young.
The pair decided on the name ‘Hidden Lounge’ because they keep the address of the apartment a secret from the guests until the night before the party.
“It makes the Hidden Lounge feel very exclusive,” says Young. “And it’s a safety precaution because the apartment where the parties are held is also our home.”
Young and Ellis recently expanded the Hidden Lounge to not only be a swanky private dining room but a venue that can also let you host your own party. This has so far been a successful venture.
For a private party, Young has the clients come in about a month ahead of time to see the apartment and pick the menu.
“At $40 a person, it’s still cheaper than hosting your own dinner party,” says Young, “That’s partly what attracts people to the Hidden Lounge.”
Young understands that because it is a new business, she can’t expect to make a large profit right away.
“It’s more of a labour of love at this point,” she says.
But since the grand opening on May 31 of this year, Hidden Lounge has been doing increasingly well.
The lounge has recently been featured in the Globe and Mail as well as the Toronto Star, so Young is confident that the business will continue to succeed and attract new clients.
Things will soon be changing at Hidden Lounge, as Young will be doing a 6-week internship at CTV in Vancouver.
“Hidden Lounge will continue, and we’re currently in the process of hiring servers to help out while I’m away,” she says.
“I’d like to break into journalism, but next year is a big, open window right now.”