Friday, November 27, 2009

Going-ons? Goings-on?

Wow, a lot has happened this week.

In no particular order, here is what's been happening in Café Novos world lately.

That wonderful space that Starbucks backed out of? We're hitting serious road blocks with the landlord regarding the lease.

(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.

After going back and forth a couple of times he tells us we need to make a decision on what we want, he can't work with us if we're not going to offer any security or covenant. You know - like what we offered with the 3 months deposit (security), and to sign a 5 year lease (covenant)?
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

And now presenting!

So I've been promising this post for about a week now. This is Sadie checking in with you all.

A little about myself for today, I know that Elizabeth is brewing up a update post of all the goings on of the last week (and boy, has it been eventful for us!).

I apprenticed as a pastry chef and went to school for Culinary Management. I'll share some of my work with you all to get those taste buds drooling!

Yes, those are all sweets. All all made by me. There are many more where those came from as well!
Unsurprisingly I also worked in a coffee shop for a time. During this time I fell in love with things such as espresso and french press. I have spent much of my free time over the years in coffee shops. I believe they are a great meeting places for friends and family, to study and to work. A good place to get away and escape for a few moments in that busy schedule that we all seem to have these days.

I love pairing coffee and tea with pastries, and bringing customers into that experience.

I'm thankful for being brought into this whole journey, it's been great so far and we're not even open yet! Wait until you hear about about the week we've had!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We want Money. That's what we Want.

Updates have been few and far between lately - we apologize.

We've been kept so busy lately it's been hard to remember to eat + sleep! But foresaking The Blog is a cardinal sin we're not willing to commit, so we find time. I've also decided this post doesn't present enough picture opportunities in of itself, so I'm peppering the post with small tie-in photos. More fun to read, right?

Who is this 'we' you ask? Why I'm so glad you did! I've been dying to tell you all about it.

I have been joined in my venture by the most lovely Sadie. She has wads of experience in the coffee + pastry world, and we're fitting like two peas in a pod so far. I'm so absolutely thrilled to have her onboard, and can't wait to introduce you all to her.

(Just like that. Except without all the other peas. You know. )

She'll be posting a little introduction to the blog in the near future, so I'll save all the fun facts for her to tell.

In the meantime - update on our financing situation.

Business plan was submitted to the CYBF representative last week, both soft and hard copies including all the fun financial sheets that go along with it.

It's been sent off to their banking representatives, who will be meeting with us on December 1st to review The Plan, and basically shred our amazing perfect plan to smitherines. (I'm not panicking - I swear). Once they're satisfied, they'll make a decision, and forward their recommendation onto the CYBF itself. We should hear back on their final decision within 1-2 weeks. (Deep breath).

My awesome new partner also presented our plan to a Private Investor on Friday of last week. Saturday I headed into the city to meet them both at the potential cafe site, to show him around, present more start-up costs and generally try very hard not to giggle nervously between sentences. (I crack bad jokes when nervous - doesn't always help me out.) He spent the weekend looking over our plan, numbers and thinking, and came back yesterday that he'd like to help.
(The above picture roughly describes my reaction to the news. Dilluted 1000x so as not to offend our lovely readers).

So now we're working on another presentation, to help show The Private Investor how his money will help, where it will go exactly, and why we absolutely know, in the bottom of our little pink hearts, that right now is the time to do this. Right now is the perfect time to do this.

Amidst all that, we've also got appointments at the bank to get the account open and ready to receive said funds, at the lawyer to finalize the corporate directors and officers (we'll have titles! ), at the accountant to sign the letter of engagement, and then finally with an architect to get new plans drawn up. Said plans will be used to generate quotes from contractors, who we need to finish some of the work in the space we're looking at.

Soon, hopefully very soon, once we have the confirmation of financing to back us, we'll start the negotiations with the landlord. That's a whole 'nother post though, and while I know the pictures I've provided have been superb, I'm sure you're tired of reading by now.

Next time we'll tell you all about that - for now, enjoy the rest of your week, and if you've got the time drop us a line!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Planet Bean

Tuesday night, as soon as I got home from a long day of work I popped in the house, grabbed my car keys and headed to Guelph.

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?

(Of course I can't write a post mentioning Caillou and not posting a picture of The Cutest Dog Ever, so I'll get it out of the way now.)

Good coffee of course!

And not just any good coffee. Planet Bean good coffee.

I discovered Planet Bean on one of many research blitz online, read all about them on their website, and then emailed them asking about their wholesale offerings. I heard back shortly thereafter, by none other than Byron Cunningham, their CEO. He goes on to tell me all about the company, and I like this place more and more every line I read.

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 ( - 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.

Now that is the kind of partner I want in a coffee supplier.
We talked about my plans for Cafe Novo, and how together we can help educate coffee lovers about fair-trade practices, and dispell the notion that fair-trade equals lower quality, more expensive.

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!)

You wouldn't believe the smell, thetaste of some of these coffees - by the time I left with four more samples of coffees I hadn't tried, I was brimming with excitement. I drove home absolutely giddy about being able to share them once the cafe is up and running.

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!