Ottawa SoPa: Business owners want to rebrand part of downtown

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Have you been to SoPa? Business owners and restaurateurs have come up with a catchy name for the area directly south of Parliament Hill with a goal to create buzz.

When Courtney Flood sat down for lunch with colleagues on Monday at OCCO Kitchen in Ottawa’s downtown, the group didn’t know they were in SoPa.

“I like the name. I feel like you need to name a few neighbourhoods in the same way in order to kind of get it to stick but, I mean, don’t hate it,” she said.

“I think ‘SoPa’, the south of Parliament area, is just a catchy nickname,” Scott May, owner of Bar Robo in Queen Street Fare, tells CTV News Ottawa. “We borrowed heavily from Tribeca and SoHo.”

Tribeca got its name from being the “Triangle Below Canal Street” while SoHo is “South of Houston Street.” In Ottawa, SoPa is “South of Parliament.”

May is part of a group of business owners and restaurateurs in the area who are hoping the name brings attention.

“The aim of SoPa is to increase the visibility of the entertainment district of downtown Ottawa,” he says.

Where is SoPa?

May describes the area as bordering Elgin Street to Bronson Avenue, and Wellington to Nepean streets.

“With all of the things that have happened to the downtown core, from COVID to truckers, we feel it’s important to keep the profile of the downtown front of mind for folks, to remind them they live in a beautiful city,” he says.

“It’s just drawing attention to everything that’s here,” says Caroline Cote, co-owner of OCCO Kitchen. “There was a map that was created that pinpoints where everything is and it’s just to show people that, yes, there is a lot going on here, there is a reason to come here,” she says.

May says organizers are speaking with officials and tourism agencies to promote SoPa, including maps and possibly banners marking the area.

A map showing businesses in the “SoPa” or “South of Parliament” district of Ottawa. The nickname is part of a branding effort by local business owners to draw people downtown. (supplied)

Organizers are having a naming launch event on Feb. 8 at Queen Street Fare. Tickets are $75. The event will feature dishes prepared by some of the city’s top chefs.

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