A new addition to the unofficial creative district in Collingwood’s downtown hopes to offer residents a little something new.
Cassie Mackell and Jeff Beltran are co-owners of Low Down at 65 Simcoe Street, Unit 5. Mackell heads up front-of-house operations for the new spot, and Beltran manages the food side of things. The bar serves Asian-inspired snacks, cocktails and offers a patio experience with late-night dining.
“The name came from us both having jobs at the time (while we were planning this),” said Mackell, with a laugh. “So, every time we would meet it would be very secret and on the ‘down low.’ We didn’t tell anyone! It was very hush-hush.”
Mackell and Beltran have both been in the food industry for many years prior to this venture.
“About a year ago I made the decision that I wanted to go out on my own and start my own business,” said Mackell. “A few of my favourite restaurants in Toronto are these Asian cocktail snack bars, and I thought, that’s what Collingwood needs.”
Mackell knew she wanted a business partner from the get-go, so she approached Beltran.
“We knew each other through the industry,” said Beltran. Beltran had previously worked with Mackell’s husband at the Tremont Cafe, as well as doing a stint cooking at Copper Blues in Blue Mountain Village. He moved to Collingwood 10 years ago from Toronto, which is where he got his start in the restaurant business.
“I’ve always loved cooking, so moving up here, I had experience and I figured I could just get a job cooking,” he said. “I started doing Asian-inspired pop ups... it was the perfect timing because there had been good response from the pop ups.”
“I wanted to do this for ourselves, instead of working for someone else,” he added.
Mackell said the hardest part of getting the business off the ground was finding a suitable location.
“We wanted something downtown that was walkable because we are serving drinks, and was the right size and vibe,” she said. “It took a long time.”
Beltran describes the business as being more quality and service-oriented.
“Choosing something of this size allows us to be able to manage that,” he said.
Coming from the hustle and bustle of Toronto, Beltran and Mackell both find the food industry in Collingwood does things a little differently.
“We’re speechless. Everyone’s looking out for us and watching our back. I’ve had chefs from other places come by to see our kitchen and offer advice. Everyone is so supportive, and that’s what’s so great about this community,” said Beltran.
“This town has a lot of foodies, but everyone seems excited to try our food because it is different from what else is out there here,” said Mackell.
Now that the restaurant is open, Mackell said line ups and waitlists have been common.
“It feels great, but it’s just the beginning,” said Beltran.
“It’s almost exceeded our expectations, and I hope we can just ride that wave,” said Mackell.