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Article


Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill (St. Lawrence Market location) features a can't-miss NEC video wall, installed by Advanced.
February 18, 2013 | by D. Craig MacCormack

The folks at Ottawa-based Advanced have a long history with the Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill restaurant chain, having done more than 15 A/V installations for the parent company in the past four years or so.

So, it’s only natural the two long-time partners teamed up again when Sircorp launched plans to open a new flagship location in Toronto.

Advanced has used its strength in creating video walls to give several Jack Astor’s locations a look that really stands out. They did the same this time around, equipping the flagship restaurant with a 5-by-5-display NEC video wall that is visible from anywhere in the restaurant, the largest permanent video wall the company has ever installed in a restaurant.

The video wall allows customers on both the floor and mezzanine levels to enjoy satellite programming while they eat. Advanced also implemented several strategically placed “video wall trees” throughout the restaurant.

These “trees” consist of a metal pipe that goes from the ceiling down to the floor, with each holding two plasma screens so everybody in the restaurant is able to watch the game at all times.

“We have a longstanding history with the Jack Astor’s chain, so they knew that we would be able take their concepts and turn them into realities,” says Mark Mulford, president at Advanced. “The management team at Jack Astor’s wanted the biggest video display possible, so our team of experts created a massive video wall that completely distinguishes this location from any other restaurant around. Nothing else even comes close.”

Trust on both sides
The key to making the St. Lawrence restaurant stand out was to try something that has never been done before, says Mark McPherson, vice president of sales at Advanced.

That meant equipping the restaurant with more than 70 LCD displays, along with the video wall, video wall trees and a full audio system.

“They say they’ve noticed a definite increase in patrons because they fixed their bar area in some of the other locations,” says McPherson. Advanced has incorporated 3-by-3 and 4-by-4 video walls in other locations before trying the 5-by-5, which can also be seen from the sidewalk as you walk by the restaurant.

For the locations employing Advanced for renovations, they close Saturday night and aim to reopen the following Thursday. That doesn’t give the team much time to work, but Kevin Linton, director of design engineering, says they can handle it.

“They have a unique approach and that means we need very strong project management,” he says. “They’re looking for a quick turnaround. The first couple of these we did were total learning experiences for everyone.”

Advanced and the other trades involved in the projects have tried to keep the crews the same when working on other Jack Astor’s locations, says McPherson, because it brings about consistency. In most cases, the Advanced crew has worked overnight to complete the projects by the restaurant’s deadlines.

Much more to come
The management team at Jack Astor’s is so happy with their new A/V system they are planning to have Advanced revisit previous Jack Astor’s locations they’ve worked on and update those systems with the same technology used in the St. Lawrence restaurant.

The Advanced team also integrated a similar solution in a Kingston-based Jack Astor’s. They are expecting to have at least three Jack Astor’s projects in 2013 along with the potential upgrades in several other restaurants in the chain.

“They’re similar jobs, but they’re always different in every location,” says Linton. “We’ve tried to apply the same methodology we use here to our other projects too.”

One thing the Advanced team has learned is racks should not stay behind the bar and should instead have a new dedicated space. That education has come with time, as has the education of the restaurant management on how important A/V can be.

“In a lot of the old designs, A/V was an afterthought,” says McPherson. “Now they know how critical it can be to their success.”

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About the author

Craig MacCormack is a veteran journalist with more than 15 years experience covering local and national news and sports as well as architecture and engineering. He joined Commercial Integrator in January 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @CraigMacCormack.
View all posts by D. Craig MacCormack
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