Friday, January 15, 2010

Blog is moving!

Now that we've got started on a website, our blog will be moving.

All the previous posts are still available, but moving forward please check out for updates.

It's still in the construction phase, but it will be more functional, and pleasing to the eye once we're finished.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Donate to Help the people of Haiti

We saw this post on Okay With Andrea's blog this morning, and wanted to increase the potential help we can lend, so we're reposting here.

On January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck HAITI - near the capital of Port-au-Prince. Although there is still very little information about the extent of the damage - it is predicted to be catastrophic.

picture source

Doctors Without Borders shoring up to lend all the medical assistance they can.
World Vision Canada is there and preparing to distribute emergency supplies to those affected.
The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.
Samaritan’s Purse is rushing to assist in Haiti
Unicef staff in Haiti are mounting rescue efforts.

That's not all...

Let me know if you are making a donation to one of the organizations above by leaving a comment at the end of this post and I will personally donate an extra $5 to the relief effort in Haiti for each donation you tell me about.

We have so much to be thankful for. Let's pass it on by helping those in need.

Elizabeth, Sadie + Richard

Monday, January 11, 2010

We Live + Learn.

It’s with a heavy heart I write this – but we did what we had to do.

We’ve had to back out of the offer to get the space we were so keen on, in Cabbagetown. Due to a series of escalating costs from ‘surprises’ and a general feeling of unease with the whole ordeal, our lawyer agreed with us on Friday we should walk away. We couldn’t convince ourselves there wouldn’t be more costly surprises ahead, and with the last increase in cost we were starting to stretch our resources a little too thin.

What does this mean for Café Novo? Well to start it means we’re back to searching for the right location. This hasn’t been a total loss however – we’ve learned a lot regarding the offer process, and what we need to know going in. If we approach another restaurant to purchase and convert to a café, we’ll be armed with a much keener sense about the process, and better able to protect ourselves all the while.

Sadie and I spent Saturday freezing our butts off walking around Cabbagetown, sussing out potential buildings. We’re a bit hung-up on the neighborhood; we will continue to search there in the event we can find another appropriate space. One space we’re very curious about, on Carlton Street about a block away from Parliament. Looks like it has great potential, just starting the process of trying to find out what it is, who owns it, etc.

We’ve got an appointment to view a new location tomorrow night, which is a recently closed café in the Junction area of Toronto. It has great potential, rent is low, and the right spot on the street. The Junction was an area I looked in initially, but didn’t look too long due to the amount of cafes recently opened – don’t want to get into an over-saturated market. With this café closing, and opening up the potential to get into an advantageous spot, we’re reconsidering. We’ll let you know how it goes!

In much better news, we have a website! My fantastic friend Marc is helping us with the design and hosting, and just put up the holding page. Check it out!

We’ll be keeping you posted about more website updates; it will eventually host this blog, plus a wealth of information about our place. In the meantime you can contact us with any suggestions / love / ideas at info at cafenovo dot ca, no spaces.

Until next time, keep warm and enjoy some hot cocoa for us!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Whirlwind Week.

Yowza, have we been kept on our toes this week.

This week alone we've managed to get so much happening ; lawyer is booking inspections for the restaurant, searching company for liens, trying to get all required info from sellers lawyer. We finally got our company credit card in the mail, and immediately purchased our domain - is now ours!
My wonderful and amazingly talented friend (Hi Marc!) is helping with the website, hosting and developing, helping with the logo design - seriously can you ask for more? I love this guy, and appreciate so much his help.
Stay tuned for the website once we're up and running I'll be sure to let everyone know!

Where were we... oh yes, we also learned we can indeed work around the liquor licence issues, and the seller agreed to pay for half the transfer cost, since it's not in our interest anyways and is not cheap ($1000 just to file the application to transfer the flippin' thing!). We'll keep alcohol on site, just not advertise it for sale. We'll have min. 5 baked goods / pastries on hand at any given time, and we're good.

Then we learned this afternoon that contrary to what we've been told up until this point, the seller did not exercise the option to renew the lease for the next five year term with the landlord - said lease expires March 2010. That's right folks, one month after we'd move in.
I raged when I read that. I mean honestly, we've asked these people at least 10 times to confirm the lease was extended, and were told it most definitely was.

So we met with the landlord tonight, basically to get his approval for our plans. He has to give the green light to transfer the terms of the lease, into a new lease with us.
One problem? Where before we weren't going to have rent deposits (already paid by seller), now all of a sudden we do. To the tune of $13,151.
That's more than a months operating cost. More than our gorgeous darling Elektra Barlume.

A few other issues came up during the meeting, which made this kittens tail twitch. Something is rotten in Denmark, and I can't quite tell what. Landlord is fantastic, nice guy, very honest and helpful. I didn't get warm fuzzies about the seller at all however, and he's not the first person to make me feel that way about her.

So we've asked the sellers agent to provide more information - and assistance with the deposits. We'll see what happens next.

Until then - stay warm and caffeinated!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Quick Update

I'm sick with some sort of headcold, but plowing ahead to get this restaurant offer firmed up already, and wanting to share updates.

Basically we're waiting to hear back from the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) as to what constitutes 'food items'. See we were surprised to learn just before Christmas that the landlord of the restaurant we are trying to buy, won't transfer the lease to us unless we transfer the liquor licence.
We're not too keen on liquor, so we asked why. Apparently there are some grandfathered clauses that have allowed the licence to be transfered from owner to owner, without major updates to the building.
To let it expire now, would mean the next tenant who wanted it would need to pay for extensive renovations to get the building up to code.

Seeing as how this is purely for the landlords benefit, we said if they'd pay for it and we don't have to hugely alter our plans, we can work with it.

So it turns out to hold the licence you have to actually offer alcohol for sale. The plus is there is no minimum, so we can have one bottle we keep below the bar, and don't advertise. The kicker is you need '5 light food items' offered for sale as well. What we're waiting to hear back on is if baked goods are considered 'food items'.
If yes, it's a go, we can continue with the offer.

If not, we're back on the hunt. We love this place in Cabbagetown, we really do. It wouldn't be fair to our vision however, to turn it into a restaurant solely for the landlords convenience for his next tenant.

Other than that we've got some issues with the equipment we're ordering, and required deposits. Shortly all to be worked out though, fingers crossed.

That's whats been happening our our world lately - we hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and Happy New Years!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Used Book Donations?

Well it's getting sooo close to us announcing what's happening with the restaurant offer, just waiting for a few loose ends to be tied up, questions answered and all will be revealed.
We promise.

In the meantime, we need your help.

I've mentioned in the past we will have a section of the cafe stocked with books and magazines, for casual perusal while sipping your marvelous beverage. I've got the design of it worked out, and while I have a few books to contribute, I certainly don't have enough to fill the shelves I'll be putting up.

This is where you come in - any suggestions for us, beyond the obvious hitting up used bookstores?

We were thinking about trying to partner with a local independant bookstore, to sell some of their wares in our space, rotating stock on a regular basis to keep it fresh and interesting for customers. Problem is there is no such bookstore in Cabbagetown.

We could reach out to further flung bookstores, and we probably will.

But we're curious about your ideas. Coffee and good books go so well together, have you ever had a 'If only they offered.." moment that would work well with our concept? Tell us all about it!

Something just pop into your head now? Share it!

We're all about customer feedback, and would love to hear what you think. So we'll sit back, make some coffee and hope to hear from you soon.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quick Update!

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season this year - we sure did!
Apologies for the lack of new posts, I wanted to post with an update on the whole restaurant offer, but we're still waiting to hear back.

We put in our final offer yesterday, after we got another sign back from the agent with a higher price. If it's not accepted we're back on the hunt, so keep those fingers crossed for us!
It's a bad time of year to be trying to get anything done that requires the assistance of real estate agents, lawyers and banks, but hey - if there's no challenge how fun can it be?

We're hoping to hear back by Tuesday if th
e offer is accepted, at which point we will definitely update.

Thanks to everyone who commented with charity ideas, they've all been filed away for once we're up and running. If you have anymore, please do share! You can email us if you'd rather not comment,

In the meantime, I'm a bit obsessed with some apple cider we received in our farm share last week, and I think I'll be buying some more from a local farm for our New Years party. Anyone reading this have any mulled cider recipes they want to share? I'm open to new ideas, as always!