Projects | Commercial & Retail | The Strand-Wide Open Bistro


The Strand-Wide Open Bistro


JMA's First Project: A Retrospective 

From menu to mural and everything in between




The Strand was a new restaurant in a corner building that formerly  housed a bank, in the heart of downtown Kitchener. It capitalized on the view of the City Hall and the historic Public Utilities Commission building across the street. The Strand was outfitted with a new kitchen. Funky window shades, a mural of the Joie de Vivre by Picasso, a bar that curved like the water's edge, seaside lampposts, and booths that brought to mind the waves of the sea completed the character of the seaside inspired restaurant.


Our Role:

Design, documentation, construction management.


Our Story:

When John MacDonald founded his firm in 1995, he wanted to work with clients to bring new life to businesses, places and spaces. John believed that architectural principles of design could be applied to any project at hand regardless of scale, from large civic spaces down to functional objects. He brought an attitude to design that encouraged the use of mundane materials, of not throwing things away just because they are old or unfashionable and finding a new purpose for them, and of making the best of what is there to create great space. The Strand brought these concepts together. It was a wide open bistro with a beachfront concept: A seaside walk with lamp posts flanked by booths reminiscent of sea waves. The windows got blinds that looked half way between beach chairs, and sails. A mural of Picasso's Joie de Vivre, set on the beach, dominated the wall behind the bar, undulating like the water's edge. The restaurant was allowed to be flooded with natural light, to reinforce the seaside experience. With The Strand, John felt like he was charting the route for his professional practice. “This was us, committing to the principles we wanted to live by.” 


“I wish to extend to you my personal congratulations on the successful renovation and opening of The Strand Bistro. It is evident as you walk in the doors that your creative imagination and determination to provide a unique eating experience for customers has been realized. On behalf of the Members of Council, may I wish you much success as you continue to bring your creative ideas into this community.”


— Richard D. Christy

Mayor of Kitchener (1995-1997)



Project Data

Commercial and Retail


Construction Management


Kitchener, Ontario

280 m² (3,000 sq. ft.)​

Construction Completed 1997

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