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.