Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's in a Name?

Got some good news today - the lawyer got back to me to say the initial search gives the go ahead for the name I've chosen : Café Novo Inc.


Now this isn't a full green light, as she now needs to do the NUANS name search, to ensure there aren't any registered names that are confusingly similar. That won't take long, and generally from what I understand if the pre-search gives the go-ahead, it's smooth sailing.

A bit about the name...

I thought about all the cafes I've liked, and their names. Some don't indicate coffee at all, like Cherry Bomb on Roncesvalles Ave in Toronto, with their little bomb sign :

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.

ex novo
'from new'
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

Tweeted Pictures + Updates

I've put up some pictures of the abandoned Starbucks space that might house Cafe Novo, on my Twitter.
Check them out by clicking on the little birdy below this sentence :

In todays news, the old Second Cup loction was a bust - the place is a mess, and would need alot of work. Plus the guy who owns it is delusional about how much he should get for the all the broken down dirty stuff they left behind - $50K! Dreaming!

The space on Queen was nice, but huge, not set up with the plumbing I'd require (knew that going in), and the vibe I envision for Cafe Novo wouldn't fit well into the neighborhood. It's trying to be much edgier than I would be, and I think I'd suffer because of it.

All of this solidifies in my mind the abandoned Starbucks location. I'm doing a walk through Tuesday night with a friend who works in cafe construction for another big company who remain unamed - he will be much better than I at estimating the cost to complete the renovations.
Fingers crossed there aren't surprises I can't see, or don't know about that will cost alot in time or money.

While downtown I checked out Tealish, where I will be sourcing my tea from. Cutest little shop off Queen W, on Walnut St. Had an amazing honeybush tea, so soft and simple and delicious. I can't wait to offer these teas to everyone!

(Inside Tealish)

Then we headed down to Zuccarini Imports, to suss out the gorgeous Elektra Barlume that I'm dreaming about showcasing at Cafe Novo. They didn't have the demo model there, it's being lent to a cafe while the machine they've ordered is en route, but I did get to speak to the owner, Jackie, about leasing options, and installation etc.
She's awesome - she'll sell me the demo machine, for a great price and the lease-to-own options are very fair. The cost includes the water filter, installation and training. I can even send any new staff to them to be trained on the same machine I'll have in my cafe! All covered! So I'm going to be sitting in on one of the training sessions they have planned in November, and get in on this latte art!

All in all a successful Saturday, tomorrow sees me working on the business plan, to be able to submit it next week.

Have a great night everyone!


Friday, October 23, 2009


Last night I looked at a space that might house my cafe.
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!)

First off, some history. The place was gutted and rebuilt from the ground up (literally - new foundation in basement and all) for Starbucks. Anyone remember awhile back their old CEO came back on board and pulled in the reins hard to slow their dropping stock price? He closed hundreds of stores in a week, and put the brakes on any in development. Well this one fell into that catagory. The landlord had done everything they asked, and they backed out without the grace to pay him for his troubles. He'll get his in court I'm sure.

Anyways back to my coming into this story. It's all windows, light and airy, and it's a clean slate. Fresh drywall, and pipes sticking out of the floor. They had a massive counter space planned, that I would shrink. They didn't have a wall oven planned, but I can fit it into the back room, right next to the double door fridge.

I'd lay white knotty pine, and not stain it, for the cafe floor. The bathrooms, backroom and behind the counter would be tiled. I know just the antique store I'd get my assortment of chairs from, and soon I'm going to start flea-mearket / antique store hunting for mis matched tables, that make me feel like sinking down and enjoying a morning treat on their well worn surfaces. Hydrangeas in little bowls spotting them in the summer. I could seat around 30, comfortably in this space.

Starbucks did their market research - the area is begging for a cafe. Nothing for blocks, in either direction. There is a bus stop right outside the side door, and the Loblaws across the street means free parking for my customers. At 8pm on a windy cool night there was enough foot + car traffic that I could stay open later. Further into the residential street are stunning row houses, all well maintained and decorated.
It's perfect. When we stepped in I could almost hear it crying out, please, make me into something beautiful.
So now it's crunch time. I will finish the business plans this weekend (one per institution / gov. program I'm going after!) and start submitting on Monday. Once I have access to the start-up capital I need, it's on.

In the meantime, I'm taking no chances and going to look at another space on Saturday, in the lovely Parkdale area of Toronto, on Queen W. It wasn't a cafe, which means more construction $$, but it's less per month, and in another cafe-bereft zone. I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about it tomorrow night. While I'm in the Big City I'm checking out Zuccarini Imports, where I hope to lease my darling Elekta Barlume, as well as checking out Tealish, where I'm dying to sample some of the delicious teas I'll most likely be stocking at Cafe Novo.

Wish you all a wonderfully happy Friday, and if you don't check back until Monday - a fabulous weekend too!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Little birds.

Alright who's on Twitter?
I'm new - add me!


I know a ton of you are on Twitter, I just need to find you... feel free to email me your names!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good news.

Good news on the cafe front this morning - I've just finally heard back from the CYBF (Canadian Youth Business Foundation) and they've processed my pre-application for a start-up loan.

I can apply for the max amount, $15,000!

With that step out of the way, I need to concentrate on finding the right place, so I can finish my business plan and submit it for their consideration. With a ton of other paperwork, naturally.

It will take at least a month for them to decide, and I have to get all paperwork submitted to them by the 1st of the month. Might be tight to make it for November, unless I find the perfect spot in the next week and a half.

Stranger things have happened, but I won't bank on it. As much as I'd love for this to start happening quickly, and get out of this office and into the cafe space, I need to be realistic.

I'm so excited about this with the CYBF - they have an amazing program where they match you up with a mentor, who works in the same field you are looking to start in. They work with you for two years (!!) to assist with start-up, and on-going business concerns. I know a couple people who have been mentored through this program and they can't stop raving about it.

Now I can also start looking at applying with the BDC (Business Development Canada), who will match what the CYBF grant me in loans. Another round of intense paperwork of course, but I'm so glad I have the option to appeal to the government for assistance!

Once that's in place, I need to start harassing banks, and credit institutions.

In the immortal words of Hannibal - I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The why and the what.

So it turns out a little background is warranted - here it goes.

I worked in a cafe when I was younger, and loved it. I like getting people their happy morning ritual, I like making their amazing latte, and I like the fast-paced rush when it gets busy and everything just falls perfectly into place.

I love how cafes are a haven, a meeting point, a safe place to get away and read a book, and a social hub all at the same time.

I've been in several good cafes, but I've never been in one I absolutely love everything about - and I think I can build that cafe. I also think others will love it as much as me.

I want sun-washed pale green walls, with cream accents. Mismatched second-hand wooden chairs, painted white, with dark wood tables. Benches along the walls with cushions, and a couple oversised ridiculously comfortable tub chairs. A bookshelf stacked with books to read if you forgot yours. Well worn wooden surfaces, grooved with loving use and solid.

I can picture exactly what it will look like, smell like and feel when you walk in. It will be warm, the air scented with coffee and fresh baking.

There will be a coat rack when you first walk in - hang up your jacket and stay awhile!

When you look up at the blackboard drink menu, you won't be bombarded with complicated names, or so many options the writting is tiny and hard to read - but we'll be glad to make you a custom drink, provided we can. There will always be fresh baked cupcakes, scones (with clotted cream and jam!) muffins, cookies and various other treats - all made with organic ingredients when possible.

The coffee and tea will all be fair trade and organic, from local roasters. Coffee won't be from a carafe, or a drip machine, but made in a french press in front of you. You can order a pot of tea to take to a table and relax with, as well as a mug.

The walls will be full of art from local artists - there will also be a small display stand with fares from local soapmakers, jewellery makers, knitted and crochetted goods... this will change monthly. We will have a raffle once a month to choose a new charity, pet shelter or fundraising cause, to which all the profits of a certain cookie or mini-cupcake will donated.

Does it sounds like a cafe you would visit, and go back to, so far?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It begins.

I suppose it would make sense to start this with a history, and a brief description of the reasons I've decided to go with my gut and do this. By this I mean open my own cafe.
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.
I've also chosen the main grinder I'll be using - a Mahlkoenig K30 Twin. It's badass.

While I don't have the perfect space yet - I did find the perfect mugs. Just so happens the over-sized textured mugs I've had my eye on from the PC Home line were on sale this weekend, so I stocked up. I'm now 24 lovely, pale creamy coloured mugs closer to opening.

I do have a new space to look at, I'm waiting to hear from the real estate agent on when.
I'll be keeping everyone posted with new updates as they happen - same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Until then, you stay classy.