Features opens to a bigger, brighter future


  • Business   Thursday, June 9, 2022   Lisa Chester-Hanna
Features Restaurant recently moved into Festival Square after years at the cirner of Waterloo and Ontario Streets. Owner Chris Haynes said they began planning for the expansion last year, giving Features more room to welcome their loyal customer base.


Features Restaurant recently moved into Festival Square after years at the cirner of Waterloo and Ontario Streets. Owner Chris Haynes said they began planning for the expansion last year, giving Features more room to welcome their loyal customer base.


Features has been the meeting place for breakfast or lunch in Stratford for 23 years with owner Chris Haynes at the grill. It is the place where he met and married his wife Jamie. He enjoys longstanding customers as well as long term staff, both of which have followed him to his new expanded space at 10 Downie St.

He started planning in February 2021 for the expansion, finding the existing facilities increasingly small and cramped. There was only street parking available and there was always a lineup of customers to come through the doors.

With plans in place, work at 10 Downie St. began last September. Construction took about nine months of work with starts and stops due to shortages during the pandemic. The renovations required were extensive as what is now a single and spacious restaurant was once two separate spaces, 

“The front was a Subway, and this was a separate unit that was empty for years. I heard that Subway was going to leave so we picked this spot hoping they were going to leave. We had sort of planned to open one side and then the next but we ended up opening with both sides,” explained Haynes.

There is now much more seating available going from about fifty to ninety-four. With an expansion comes an increased need for staff and Haynes has hired in all areas of the business from serving staff to additional line cooks. 

“We were quick to fill the positions; we advertised on social media and there were people that staff knew, people were looking for work and we were fortunate that way,” said Haynes. Working at Features is like working with family, something that gives Haynes immense pride. Staff have been there for years and customers love the continuity, not to mention the stability it lends a business.

Since opening the new location, everyone has been happy in their new digs. “Everyone is walking around with a perma-smile. Watching the customers come in and seeing their reactions has been fun” Frontage on Erie and Ontario streets is totally encased in windows making it bright and airy with tall ceilings. There are intimate booths and table settings upon which you can enjoy your meal.

Looking forward to the summer without restrictions, Haynes is glad to see things returning to normal.

“Everyone is getting more comfortable, the staff is more comfortable not wearing masks, it feels like things are back to normal,” he said.

Making such a big move as changing locations might seem risky, but there are so many benefits to it that will make it worthwhile. 

“There is more access to parking which was always a hindrance at the old spot with only street parking. There is the parking lot here, and street parking on both sides, so I just expect to be even busier. We were full here on the weekend, lined up along the sidewalk and around the corner,” said Haynes.

For those long-time customers, they can expect the same menu as before, which is extensive with over 90 items on it. Not to say that there won’t be something new to try; they have started a waffle menu, and Features will be adding some specialty drinks to the breakfast menu as well. They have started the process of applying for a liquor licence for the restaurant, an exciting new element for Features.

“Other than that, the menu has stayed the same which is probably why things have gone so smoothly. We have a big menu to begin with. To change it up too much with a big move like this would have been too much for everyone,” said Haynes.

Features is open and ready to serve seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. They also offer take-out service and delivery through Skip The Dishes.