David Sidoo: The Player

David Sidoo likes to say that running at anything less than flat-out just isn’t in his genes. But the 49-year-old former pro-football player and stock broker has clearly turned it down a notch since the early days of his career, when he was juggling two full-time jobs while starting a family. The self-described entrepreneur and investment banker found himself in the eye of a media cyclone last fall when local celebrity chef Rob Feenie loudly blamed Sidoo for his sudden departure from Lumière restaurant. But restaurant ownership is just the latest foray to catch Sidoo’s fancy since he quit punching a clock in 1999 to pursue his own investments. When we meet, it’s at the outdoor terrace of a Starbucks in Burnaby. If the term “boulevardier” still had currency, Sidoo would fit the bill. Dressed casually but impeccably in jeans and a blue-and-white striped business shirt – top button undone, shirt-tails hanging loosely – he’s perfectly at ease, latte in hand, as pedestrians and car traffic swirl past him. Sidoo describes the pressure-cooker years at the start of his career and how, when professional sports became a real option during his third year at UBC, he decided to devote himself “150 per cent” to its pursuit. How, during his fifth year playing defensive safety for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he spent his one-week vacation cramming for the securities exam while his teammates were playing golf. How, after transferring to the BC Lions in 1987, he spent his mornings at a downtown brokerage firm, racing to football practice in the afternoons and then splitting his evenings between making cold calls and studying the Lions’ play book. He held down the two jobs for three months, before leaving football to become a full-time stockbroker – first at Canarim Investment Corp. Ltd., and later at Yorkton Securities Inc. By 1999, Sidoo explains, he had done well for himself and his clients and decided he could do without the stress of looking after other people’s money. So he quit the brokerage business to devote himself full time to his own investments. Two years later, an opportunity to invest in Lumière arose when Rob Feenie was looking for financial backing to open a tasting bistro adjacent to the restaurant, and in 2005 Sidoo increased his stake to become Lumière’s majority owner. These days Sidoo still keeps a broker’s hours, rising early to scan market news before an hour-and-a-half workout, then heading to West Broadway to check the progress of renovations at his restaurant, which has been closed since June for a complete makeover under the direction of New York celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, in anticipation of a grand re-opening next month. While the Lumière renovation occupies most of his time these days, Sidoo continues to dabble in resource investments and also has a modest hand in real estate development. He’s clearly enjoying the life of a restaurateur and says he’s in it for the long haul. However, he doesn’t rule out a return to football someday. “I would ­really love to someday get back into an ownership position in a club,” he says. The days of holding down two jobs and making cold calls in the evening are long behind him, but a hammock and a cold beer aren’t anywhere in David Sidoo’s sights. “I love being in the game,” he says with a smile.