Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
What do you think? We'll also have white chairs, only not so much outside.
I'm also thinking upstairs we'll put a nice long communal table, like the farmhouse dining tables. No tablecloth on the gorgeous wood table though.
Several antique stores in my area have a stunning selection of them, for very reasonable prices. I love the concept of sharing a good cup of brew with local strangers that you can engage in conversation with, minus the awkward break-the-ice, or having to intrude on someone else's conversation while they are clustered away into little 'two people retreats' like so many cafes pander to.
A nice well-worn surface, like this table at Wildflower Organics :
How fantastic would it be to find benches at the same time? Ahhh one can dream.
In the meantime dear readers, we ask your opinion on a very important matter - you see we have plans, to sell a certain kind of cookie, with all of the profit going to a charity. That charity will change monthly, and we'd like to start a running list of suitable charities.
Are you personally involved with, know someone who runs, or absolutely adore what a certain charity does for the world? Tell us about it! The more details the better, and we'll add them to our list for once we're up and running. Our only condition is that they not raise money to infringe on the rights of others. Can't wait to hear from you!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We are approximately this excited.
We've also got a first draft of the offer we will be putting in for the restaurant business in Cabbagetown - waiting to hear from our lawyer on an appointment time, to get it reviewed, and then edited as we see fit before it's finally put to the seller.
It's all coming together - for really real! We still need to meet with RBC to finalize the details on our government guaranteed loan, also waiting to hear from our second potential investor.
If it all goes as planned *keep those fingers crossed* then we'll have the keys February 1st, and if everything continues to go as planned we'd be open to serve fantastic coffee and baked goods the beginning of March.
Celebrate with us - raise a cup of ridiculously good coffee, or a delicious half-eaten treat!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Until then however, we concentrate on the cafe.
We're so close, we can almost taste it. You know what it tastes like? Rich dark hot chocolate, recipe care of our own lovely Sadie. This stuff is going to blow your minds people.
We anticipate seeing alot of these.
Saturday Sadie and I made our way back to Cabbagetown, and met the owner of the restaurant currently occupying the space we're coveting. She's energetic, passionate about organic local food, and loves the hospitality industry. We dug her style, too.
We poked around in the back kitchen, upstairs and basement. We explored the back patio (flashes of flower bakets hanging alongside patio lanterns, swaying gently in summer breezes... ahhhh.) and asked a ton of questions while we were doing it.
The kitchen's largest piece of equipment consists of two pizza ovens, stacked on on top of another. After some research it's been decided we can use them for our baked goods, in fact it might be beneficial what with the stone floor of them, distributing heat evenly.
The main-floor bar was sussed out for ability to hold our gorgeous espresso machine, cake stands and a cash register. We can make it work.
Isn't she a beauty?
So now we're revising our numbers, our start-up requirements, and time-frames. We need less kitchen equipment, less construction, but we will be replacing some parts. The light fixtures jsut won't work with our vision, they'll be sold. The whole place needs to be repainted, to suit our style. We'll be painting + re-upholstering the chairs, and replacing the table tops. The bar upstairs will be converted to a reading spot cum book and magazine shelf. We'll leave the stools there, and the lighting under the bar that will enable you to read, if the rest of the upper room is dimmer. We'll be taking used book + magazine donations in the near future - any suggestions for sourcing?
Once we firm up our financing options, we'll meet with the realtor and start drumming up and offer. If all goes well we could be opening the beginning of March!
So keep your lovely fingers crossed for us everyone - and shout out encouragement / thoughts / love! We love hearing from you!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
With the holidays just around the bend, many people have started their baking. Many cookies, breads, loafs, and cakes are to be had at this time of year. Most of them are guilty pleasures or family favourites.
We're starting our holidays off with cookies and coffee. (Elizabeth in particular could eat nothing but coffee + gingerbread cookies aaaaaall day and be quite content.) Not that this is shocking, but we wanted to share some of that spirit with all of you. A lot of holiday treats are rich, sweet and hit that spot that you've been craving all year.
This isn't going to be a full lesson in pairings, just a quick intro into the concept and a recipe for you to try at home!
Today, we're going to pick a Guatemalan coffee, which is rich chocolately coffee, while still being medium to dark and quite lively when just freshly ground. I'm not going to suggest an exact blend or brand, the region is far more important. What I am going to suggest though, is that you get high quality beans (not from a big box super market that is!), and if at all possible grind them at home. We can go on and on about the importance of equipment but we'll keep it to this : burr grinders are where it's at. (If you want to know more - please ask!)
Blade grinder : Baaaaaaad.
Burr grinder : Gooooood.
Knowing how busy everyone is during these next few weeks, and how complex and intimidating cinnamon rolls can be; here is a quick and easy one to ensure success and enjoyment with your rich, flavourful Guatemalan coffee that I know you're going to go out to the market, or your local roaster and buy!
Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls!
5 1/4 cup white unbleached bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp instant yeast
2 cups hot water
Mix dry ingredients together.
Add egg and water.
Mix for 1 minute and check consistency. If dough is too dry, add a tiny amount of water. If too moist, add a little flour.
Mix for 5 minutes.
Roll out dough on a floured surface until it is about 16 by 21 inches.
2 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
Roll the dough up from the long side and cut into 16 slices.
Place into two 9x13 pans sprayed with Pam.
Cover and let rise for 20 minutes. Bake at 400 for 13 minutes.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
While the rolls are baking, beat cream cheese and butter until combined, add vanilla, salt, and sugar slowly and beat until fluffy.
When rolls are done, immediately spread with icing.
Enjoy - and do tell, what do you like to pair with your coffe / tea / hot cocoa?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Now that you're a little more relaxed, let me tell you what's been going on in our world.
We met with two bankers last night, that work on behalf of the CYBF, determining if projects brought to them have economic viability, and help them decide if they should invest or not. Very nice gentlemen, both with worlds of experience. One is apparently involved in the "Dragons Den" show you might have seen on CBC (If you're in Canada). I don't know that he's one of the Dragons perse, but either way.
We reviewed the business plan, the financials, and talked, lots, about our plans. They were very enthusiastic, and loved our ideas.
Their only concern was with out start-up costs being high, which in turns leave our cash flow lower than they'd like for the first few months. We'd budgetted to have just over 3 months worth of operating capital on hand, assuming the worst that we make no profit until the 4th month.
They said they'd be more comfortable with that closer to 6-9 months.
The start-up costs of the location on Manning are close to $100K - this is very high, and while we were edging to the decision regardless, it means that location is now completely out of the running. The landlord wants us not only to pay 100% for the renos, he also wants a security deposit of 1 years worth of rent. Close to $50K. We just don't have that money, and even if we did I wouldn't want it sitting in an account while we struggle to make ends meet.
So from the meeting we took away a sense that we are on the right track, they told us they believe it will be profitable, and it's a great idea. They also agree we're going into this with open eyes, we know what we're doing and we're doing it well so far.
We need to redo our numbers, using the newer locations we've been looking at, to reduce our start-up and have a larger chunk of cash on hand for the operating, to cover 6 to 9 months.
While we're waiting to find out if the financing is approved for the offer someone else has in on the lovely little yellow restaurant on College St, we've been looking elsewhere.
Our searching has led us to lovely Cabbagetown, Toronto. Have you heard of it?
Here's a little reading material if you'd like to know more about it.
There is a little restaurant that a woman is looking to sell, currently occupying a converted Victorian house, two floors with original moldings and charm intact. It includes a gas fireplace on the main floor, huge windows letting in tons of natural light, and a back patio. A real back patio, not a city-owned boulevard cafe kind of place. It's fantastic. We love it. And it puts our start-up costs below what we'd pay at the Manning location, already including kitchen equipment.
Lovely main floor, see the fireplace? Ahhhhhhh.
There would be cosmetic changes for sure, but our total construction budget would be something like $10K. You know, $90K less than the last location we looked at. Picture that space you see above these words not painted red, but pale green, with white and cream accents. Then imagine it full of people smiling and closing their eyes while they sip from a warm steaming cup, their shoulders relaxing as they take a sip, and then nibbling on an equally delicious snack.
That's what we're talking about.
So Sadie and I caged the place out on Monday night, went for dinner and poked around. We love it, but we need to see the kitchen. And maybe the upstairs without people crowded in every space. So Saturday we've got an appointment with the owner, to do a full walk through, and ask all the questions swirling around our pretty little heads. I can't wait, and even the thought of having to drive into Toronto in fresh snow isn't dampening my anticipation.
We've also been working on concocting our secret recipes, that will have you all swooning once we're up and running. This hot cocoa.... let me tell you, it's going to Blow.Your.Minds. But I've gone on long enough for one post, we'll tell you more about it next time.
In the meantime, drop us a note, tell us your thoughts so far! Suggestions? Comments? Awe and love? We'd love to hear it!
Monday, December 7, 2009
On that note, I know what you're thinking...man, it is about time. This guy was genetically engineered for this business. A coffee drinking machine with no equal.
More than likely you are now sitting there with your elbows on the table, hands gently clasped, chin softly resting on your hands, head turned slightly to the left and looking upwards and regaling in stories, which by now are probably somewhere close to being almost legendary, like times of two friends sitting and drinking over 19 coffees while playing chess. Thinking..yes, this guy knows coffee like no other man in history.
Actually I would like to interrupt you at this point to say that this is an excellent indication as to my role within Café Novo.
Anyone who would drink that many coffees in one sitting was not doing it for the rich aroma, the subtle notes, or the delicate flavours washing over ones palate, but more for the free refills.
Speaking of free refills...could I tell you stories about the extent that I and my friends have gone to for free refills and the countless times we have been kicked out of places like buffets. But I digress for that is a saga for another time, as when I sat down to write this I told myself that brevity was the key. Now I did not mean the type brevity that would consist of me saying my name and then awkwardly standing there, waiting for anything to come to mind other than discussing the weather, but the type of brevity that you so desperately hope for at an awards acceptance speech where overpaid people throw a massive and expensive celebration in order to pat themselves on the back for all of their hard work. After all they clearly need more attention than they are already getting...their jobs are so important, I mean, doctors only save lives, how often do they entertain us though? And what else would they do with all of that money...fund cancer research? Help provide clean drinking water around the world? You people are ridiculous for even thinking such things!
So as I sit here to write this brief introduction of myself and my involvement with the café, I think it best to begin with telling you that I actually prefer tea. I drink coffee because it is there, in fact I will pretty much drink anything, I have in fact put tablespoons of instant coffee in my mouth and let it dissolve. Some would say it is because I am crazy, some would say I was just too lazy to boil some water, I prefer to say that I just don't play by those rules, and plain and simple am damn adventurous.
Oh by the way my name is Richard and this is why I will be handling the finances.
Friday, November 27, 2009
In no particular order, here is what's been happening in Café Novos world lately.
(Said empty space, with two lovely people I happen to know.)
We met with the architect that had done the drawings for Starbucks, and went over what we are looking for. Got his fee proposal (he can certainly afford to buy the fancy car he pulled up in), and some suggestions as to what we should ask the landlord to complete before we sign the lease. Little things, that the inspector would need done regardless.
We emailed the landlord on Sunday night, with a proposal to lease, outlining what we'd need, and what we were offering - to put in $100K worth of renos to finish the place, and 3 months worth of security deposit, at the rent rate he was requesting. We just needed him to pay for the walls to be framed, and drywalled around the bathrooms and backroom.
Finally heard back on Tuesday, that he would be needing a full years worth of rent as a deposit, and he wasn't putting another dime into the place - don't we know he's already dropped close to $300K on the place?? Just to put it in perspective - a years worth of rent is approx. $50K. Up front, just for the privilege of leasing a property we're going to put $100K into, that he will benefit from.
I pointed this out to him, and have yet to hear back.
We're not so sure we want to get in bed with someone who's whacked from the get-go. So we're looking elsewhere.
Thursday Sadie and I went to check out a spot on College, operating as a restaurant. Gorgeous, perfect, amazing location - full kitchen. The pedestrian count alone was enough to quicken our heart beats. (Can you see the name Café Novo posted on that pretty yellow exterior, in your head? We sure can - and it looks good).
We decide we want it - let's do it. YAY right?
Wrong - there's an offer in, to buy the restaurant. Which means our offer to lease is going to take second stage, if we even get a shot to present it.
So now we wait...
We have to wait until the end of the weekend, for the offer to expire, before we know if it's available or not. And it's killing us.
So good blog-reading friends - will you say a prayer / wish on a star / cross your fingers for us?
In more positive news, we met with our lawyer, and finalized all the company positions, stocks and minute book.
Check it out!
(Neato - right?)
But we can top that! Oh yes! Check this bad boy out :
Heck yes that's our corporate seal! We're going to officiate every piece of paper that has to do with the company. Security measure are important, right?
We also now have a business bank account, and just today we got the permanent card in the mail, with the fancy chip and everything. It also says Café Novo Inc. on it, but I'd get in trouble from our CFO if I posted a picture of it. You'll just have to take my word that it's shiny and super impressive.
Next week we meet with the bankers that will formulate the proposal to the CYBF advising if they should lend us money - a bit nervous about it, but we know that business plan front to back so we think we'll be OK. Wish us luck regardless?
We'll leave you with that for now - in the next few posts look forward to more introductions, and hopefully elated joyful news of securing the space on College!
Elizabeth - President. (Now that's fun to type!)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
(Just like that. Except without all the other peas. You know. )
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Why would I want to drive to Guelph after a long day, instead of stay home, make hot chocolate and curl up with my puppy and a good book?
Good coffee of course!
And not just any good coffee. Planet Bean good coffee.
See Planet Bean sells fair-trade, organic coffee - just like several other suppliers I found in Toronto. Unlike many of those other suppliers, they are wholly commited to fair-trade, the certification, and quality of their product.
They are certified by TransFair Canada (http://transfair.ca/) - the nonprofit certification organization that promotes and licences fair-trade operations in Canada. You've probably seen the logo :
If you're not sure what fair-trade really means - read about it here.
One of their best selling coffees is called Cafe Femenino, and I was sent home with a bag of it. It's delicious coffee, and even better, it comes from a wonderful place. The first of it's kind, a cooperative of women in Peru started growing their own organic, shade-grown coffee, and using the profits to support their community. According to Bill Barrett of Planet Bean Coffee "Women in these rural areas are said to be at a 70% risk of sexual assault. They have few resources, no support network limited education and no control over the household income." This allows them to take control of their lives, the education of their children, and increasing their quality of life.
This network has grown, and now involves over 750 women, in 50 different communities.
Read more about it here.
While sipping samples of some of their single-origin coffees, Byron explained to me that this principle carries through everything Planet Bean does. The company is employee-owned, and the driving principles of the company are to be ethical, operating in a democratic manner, and ecologically sustainable.
I got to peek inside the magic room - where the roasting takes place. The smell was out of this world. (Although as opposed to the picture, the roaster wasn't present - just imagine what the steam coming off those beans would smell like. Heaven!)
Ahhhhh, I now cannot wait to get home, and make myself a coffee.
I'll leave you with a link to an interesting article about the health benefits of coffee, as reported by Harvard researchers - enjoy!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Super cute, I admit, and if you know a bit about coffee you realize it does tie in - coffee beans are actually cherry pits.
I do appreciate when a business is frank, and tells me what they are selling however. I wanted the word café in my business name. I wanted to convey the clean, crisp interior I picture, and the feeling you get when you just take a moment to relax and enjoy a good coffee, or aromatic tea and watch the world go by.
I couldn't think of just the right word to convey all of this in one neat package. So I turned to the mother of our langauge, latin.
Said of something that has been built from scratch.
In general usage, de novo is a Latin expression meaning 'afresh', 'anew'.
novo : to make anew, refresh, revive, change, alter, invent.
All of this summed up to me what I plan for the cafe to represent, to enliven, refresh and renew.
I'm not only re-inventing myself and what I do, but I'm offering in the cafe a moment for others to refresh, renew and enliven themselves. I think it's simple enough that you don't have to 'get' it to appreciate the name itself, but it fleshes out the concept I have.
And I won't lie - I said it outloud a few hundred time, and like how it rolls of the tongue. If you like saying it, you're more likely to pay a visit!
So tomorrow I head to the lawyers to sign the initial paperwork to start getting the company incorporated. Hopefully it won't take too long, and then I can finally start applying for all the licences I need from the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario, and our lovely Country of Canada.
I think I summed it all up in the Twitter post of the same topic - let's get this freakin' party started!!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
In downtown Toronto, I got the heads up about it from my accountant, awhile back. I dismissed it as being too expensive, but recently started thinking about it again. Maybe it was worth having a look at?
So have a look I did, and I'm so glad I did. (Thanks Eddy!)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
But I'd imagine most of you know me, my history, and why I'm doing this.
So instead I'm going to dive right into updates.
I thought I had the perfect space in Oakville - great area, perfect demographic - but it turns out the landlord isn't interested in bringing the building up to code. And while I'd love to foot the $30,000 bill for her, turns out I have plenty of other expenses.
Like the espresso machine I'll be getting, to turn out the amazing coffee you'll be coming in for.
This beauty is built by Elektra, her name is Barlume. She's a two-group gorgeous drink of water. Or espresso.