From punk rock to perogies: Ottawa’s House of TARG aims to survive COVID

Paul “Yogi” Granger opened the House of TARG as a place he and his friends would call home in 2014.

DIY club owner Paul “Yogi” Granger didn’t get into the club business to make a fortune. He opened the House of TARG in order to have a cool place to host parties and perform live music.

Born in Ottawa 48 years ago, Granger was a rock musician playing gigs with his band Ukrainia; a sound technician, directing shows in Zaphods and Babylon; a producer, recording groups; and he threw monthly parties at his Main Street recording studio.

It was then that in 2014, basement space became available on Bank Street at the corner of Sunnyside Avenue.

He and his partners, Mark McHale, Kevin Berger and Blake Jacobs, saw the opportunity to consolidate all of their projects into one centralized club hub.

“We originally got the place in 2014 because we had punk rock parties every month at my recording studio on Main Street and the space was too small,” says Granger. “I’ve thought about owning my own house since I was 20. I knew I wanted to create a place that was fun and different from other clubs. I really liked the atmosphere of the club.

Named after the 1980 arcade game, in the years since, the House of TARG has earned a reputation as a favorite spot to regularly see bands like The Dayglo Abortions, Said The Whale, Big Wreck, Ian Blurton and Dilly Dally.

As if running a punk club wasn’t hard enough, Granger struggles to keep the House of TARG afloat throughout an ever-changing series of COVID restrictions.

But Granger’s anarchic imagination and DIY ingenuity helped save his COVID-ravaged club. He’s canceled live music for the time being and in its place is pushing perogies, both frozen for home and hot for takeout.

Half-Ukrainian and half-British, Granger added perogies to the menu at the House of TARG both as a tribute to his Ukrainian heritage and to give the club a unique flavor.

“Perogies started out as our niche that set us apart a bit from the rest,” he says. “Now they are the busiest part of the business. Temporarily I hope.

Orders can be placed on the House of TARG website.

In addition, it turns to the family, with events like puppet plays and cabaret. He also has a cheap date promotion with perogies and a pinball machine for $10. He also books groups for late spring. He teamed up with San Francisco artist Dirty Donny Gilles on a record he recorded at his studio in Low, Quebec.

Granger describes House of TARG as part of the Disneyland and CBGB nightclub in the heart of Old Ottawa South. There’s a stage for concerts, wall space for art, an arcade for 20 vintage pinball machines, 25 arcade games, and a kitchen where the house specialty is perogies.

From the start, the venue was designed as a place where musicians and artists of all persuasions could relax and even create. Granger and company didn’t exactly follow a business plan.

“The club isn’t a big money maker,” he admits, “but I’m a master at breaking even. It sucks to be broke, but I don’t care if I’m full of money. I’m not good at making money, but I’m good at making fun.

“I haven’t done a live show in two years because we have more important things to sort out,” he says. “I’m a punk, metalhead, jazz lover, club owner, producer and I take care of my parents. I’m far from rich, but I have a good life.

About Joan J. Hernandez

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