(PHOTO: Vardera Cafe is owned by (left to right) George Dion, Ellie Dion and Allan Atwan. Photo by Devyn Barrie.)
Quitters. The Grounds. Gaia Java.
Add one more to that list: Värdera Café and Lounge.
The latest addition to Stittsville’s indie coffee scene is set to open Friday in the Jackson Trails Centre, between Blue Bamboo Yoga and Lucky Dragon.
It’s a family business, with father Allan Atwan, his daughter Ellie Dion and her husband George Dion. They’ve been busy for weeks transforming unit 11B, previously Kiwi Kraze, into what they call the perfect spot for their business.
“I was planning to open [this shop] back in Calgary, five years ago.” said Atwan. “But I couldn’t find the right spot… Why did we choose this area? Because it’s the future, in the new neighborhoods.”
Their own café is long time coming. Atwan spent 11 years in the food service business, including some as a partner at Subway. Ellie Dion also spent time working at another café. George Dion is the odd man out, having previously owned a maintenance company.
They don’t have any roots in the Stittsville area, instead hailing from south Ottawa. Regardless, the community has welcomed them warmly. “People in here are so nice… nice people to meet with and to talk to.” Atwan said.
They have their own plans for giving back to the community, in part through a gallery to be set up inside the café. It will allow local artists and photographers to showcase their work for free, starting in September.
“Part of the community is we want to support the local artists, we want to give them a chance,” said Ellie Dion.
Another feature – bookshelves lining the walls, offering customers something to curl up with while they sip their coffee.
The atmosphere is described as high end and relaxed, opposed to the “in and out” feel of Tim Hortons or Starbucks, as Dion describes it. The coffee itself is fair trade, sourced from around the world and roasted locally.
Long term, they have plans to introduce their own line of coffee blends, made by local roasters to specification. As well, Atwan says he hopes to open more shops around the city in the next five years.
“Let’s start across Ottawa, and then we will go Ontario, and then who knows?” He said. “It’s going to take some time and it’s a big challenge… I’m sure we’re going to make it.”
The grand opening is on Friday, August 5 – it includes free coffee samples.