Fancy restaurant, pickleball, golf all part of old Mississauga mall’s new look

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Published June 22, 2024 at 3:10 pm

Sheridan Fornello restaurant mall Mississauga

A revitalization is underway at one of Mississauga’s oldest malls and the new look is turning heads.

Several new businesses are appearing at Sherwood Village (formerly known as Sheridan Mall, Sheridan Centre and Eaton Sheridan Place) on Erin Mills Parkway, ones that are taking long-time patrons by surprise.

Il Fornello, the classic casual fine dining restaurant that first made its name in Toronto and has since branched out to other locations across the GTA, will open on Monday (June 24). Already operating is an indoor golf simulator and a sports training centre, and soon, there will be a home improvement store and pickleball courts.

“Il Fornello? Here? This is not the Sheridan Mall I’m used to,” laughed Gabriela Mendes as she strolled through the mall on Friday. “I mean, I grew up in this neighbourhood. We were used to Papa Luigi’s Pizza, Smitty’s Pancakes [and] the food court. But a fancy restaurant like Il Fornello? I never thought I would see something like that here.”

But Mendes isn’t complaining as she stopped to purchase an espresso at Cafe Alba, the takeout portion of Il Fornello that opened earlier this week. She said she looks forward to returning to the mall more often now that, as she puts it, “a shot of life” has been injected.

For years, the mall sat largely empty as long-time tenants closed down or moved on.

Once home to a Dominion grocery store, Eaton’s and Zellers that served as anchors, the old Sheridan Mall was filled with the likes of Laura Secord, Music World, St. Clair Paint & Wallpaper, Radio Shack, Bittner’s, Lewiscraft, Grand & Toy, Batta Shoes, Coles Books, Becker’s Milk, Petland, Embassy Cleaners, Singer’s Sewing Centre, movie theatres, a smoke shop, clothing stores and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat.

The mall was also home to antique shows, concerts, Christmas-time visits from Santa and even the Miss Mississauga beauty pageant. Kids used to play on the carpeted stacked blocks in the centre of the mall.

There are some remnants of the past. Shoppers Drug Mart is still there along with the Bank of Nova Scotia, Itar Shoe Repair and Dominion turned into Metro. The Mississauga Symphony Orchestra used book sale is still held at the mall every September.

Opening in 1969, Sheridan Mall was an essential place for shoppers and a popular hangout for young people in the days before video games, streaming and cellphones.

“Sheridan Mall was a happening place at one time. Next to Square One, it was the biggest thing around because there wasn’t too much here back in the 70s and even the early 80s. If you lived in the west side of Mississauga or in Oakville, you came here,” said Paul Morse who “moved away long ago” but still has family in the area. “And it was crowded, especially on the weekends.”

Another former resident who grew up nearby points to the removal of the cinemas as the start of the eventual decline of the mall.

Sheri Miniver said the movies brought people to the mall — especially kids — who usually shopped and got something to eat before or after a show.

“The movies were a big attraction, it was a night out and a big deal,” said Miniver. “Once the theatre was taken out people started to go elsewhere.”

Other attempts to inject some life into Sheridan Mall were short-lived. Iconic Canadian department store Eaton’s moved in for a while and when that empire collapsed that area was turned into office space for Sun Life Insurance.

Then there was the failure of Target.

The U.S. retail giant spent months reconfiguring the old Zellers space. It opened to much fanfare in 2014 but lasted about a year when the entire Canadian operation pulled up stakes and headed back across the border.

But that was then.

Today, shoppers are greeted by a revamped facade that resembles a village and a large electronic sign heralding the arrival of the new businesses.

As well, even though plans seemed to have stalled, the long-term strategy is to surround the mall with condos…16 of them. We will have to wait and see how that turns out.

Meanwhile, the already mentioned Il Fornello is ready to go and Golf On Lounge has been operating for the past few months.

A state-of-the-art simulator where you can work on your golf game in a lounge-type setting, Golf On’s goal is to let you play and improve your technique year-round without getting too far away from your couch with food and (soon-to-be drinks) available.

Aplus Sports, a training facility just open a few days ago and Lambton Galleries, which sells kitchen, bath, appliances and decor is preparing to open.

And, to cap it all off, pickleball is coming!

The game that people cannot get enough of, Rally at Sherwood Village promises six full-sized pickleball courts and three practice courts when it opens, which is expected this summer.

With the rise in popularity of pickleball in Mississauga, the additional courts can’t come soon enough.

Brenda Persad, already an active player, said that public courts are getting harder to book so options at the mall are welcome news.

“I didn’t expect this but it’s great news,” she said. “I like the location, plenty of parking, I think it will do well,” Persad said.

While Morse said he misses his younger days at the mall and is surprised at the new “unexpected and non-traditional” businesses that are moving in, he applauded the effort to give the place a makeover.

“It’s needed…long overdue, I hope it works out, this community needs its mall back,” he said.

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