Margarita Chen (pictured above) still doesn’t know exactly what made her buy a 60-year-old house on Carp Road and open a café, but one day she knew she had to do it.
“It was an uncontrollable urge to buy it,” she told StittsvilleCentral.ca on the rear deck of the fixed-up house, just a few days before opening on Fathers’ Day Sunday. “It was meant to be.”
The name’s Red Gables. She wanted Green Gables, because the house originally had green siding, but her lawyers advised against it for copyright reasons. (The house is now coloured red.)
She describes the atmosphere as “totally opposite” of her other business, Kungfu Bistro.
“It’s country charm,” she said. “Very outdoorsy, right down the the very look and feel.”
The café’s speciality, in addition to coffee, is bubble tea and bubble waffles, which she is calling “puffles.” They will come in a variety of flavours and can also be served with ice cream, some of which is sourced from the Carp Creamery, or even cheesecake.
“Overall it’s going to be a unique experience for Stittsville, also for Carp and even Kanata,” she said. “There is no bubble waffle place anywhere around here. I think there is one place in downtown Ottawa.”
It’s a bit of a contrast, she said, to serve bubble waffles at a country-themed café because the food is most popular in large metropolises such as Toronto and New York. But she hopes to bring it to a suburban and rural market.
In the future, Chen may roast her own coffee. But for now she is sourcing hers from Barking Barista, which donates some of their sales revenue to dogs in need, which is a cause that meant a lot to her as a dog lover.
In fact, she loves dogs so much she has a “bark-thru” window on the front deck that allows owners to make an order without entering the café, because dogs are not allowed inside.
On top of the food, there will also be a retail portion of the business. A counter near the front door will have an offering of tins filled with tea leaves, as well as camping pots (following the outdoors theme) and will soon offer a selection of fudge.
She took ownership of the property on Thursday and realized how perfect the timing is for the opening after an employee pointed it out.
“It’s very symmetrical,” she said. “Kung-Fu Bistro opened on Mothers’ Day five years ago and now Red Gables opens on Fathers’ Day.”
She will juggle her time between Kungfu Bistro and Red Gables, but expects to spend most of her time on the latter. There will be no new hiring because six months ago she brought on new staff at Kungfu Bistro specifically so they could also work at the café.
“Kungfu Bistro will remain Kungfu Bistro, it isn’t going anywhere,” she promised.
The house has a lot of history. It was built 60 years ago by a husband and wife by the name of Cameron. They raised three children who are now adults.
When Chen started negotiations to buy the property last summer, she learned that Mrs. Cameron had died a matter of weeks earlier. Less than seven days after signing the deal on December 18, Mr. Cameron passed away as well.
“I’ve tried very hard to keep as much of the place,” Chen said. “They put 60 years of love into this place.”
(Red Gables is located at 2006 Carp Road, just north of Rothbourne. It opens on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, 10am-2pm. After that, the plan is to open weekdays from 7am-2:30pm, and then 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday. Hours subject to change!)