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As reported here on 25 March, Lucas Cleveland and Montana DesJardins plan to open a European style store - think of it as a 21st century green grocer.  Their plan is to open on King street, preferably on the North side and in the prime space between Division and Spring.  However, so far they have not had any success getting a place at a reasonable rent so they have put in place Plan “B” and will take over the canteen at the beach.  It’s just a summer thing but they plan to do it quite differently than was done before. They still plan to open their store on King Street but in addition, they will be able to not only spruce up the canteen but also introduce themselves and their products to Cobourg.

They explained their new approach at both a special council meeting on May 1st and their previously organized community meetings at the Loft on May 4th.

The Canteen

First some background.

The previous operator of the canteen had a five year contract plus a five year extension but the agreement expired in October 2016.  An RFP for a replacement closed on April 13, 2017 and there were 4 bidders:

  1. Market and Smør
  2. Spunky Spuds (based in Cobourg)
  3. CGC Concessions (based in Cobourg)
  4. Centro Foods

Using the usual evaluation procedure (Download Town recommendation memo), Market and Smør were selected.  But they won’t be serving just organic treats (like smoothies, salads, smørrebrød sandwiches, vegetarian options, and organic nut milk) but also the usual unhealthy stuff like hot dogs, chicken skewers, tacos and all kinds of other favourites. These will be provided by two "food trucks" that they will partner with.   Actually one is a food truck which they bought and have recruited a chef to operate and the other is a hot dog stand.

Apart from providing a wide variety of food, this arrangement will also ensure there are multiple points of sale that will keep lineups to a minimum.

Further, they plan to have staff reaching out to customers and taking orders – e.g. from those in line.  These days it’s not hard to accept a credit or debit card using a smart phone! They suggested these staff would be identified with T-shirts labelled with “I'm a Smile-Sharing, Smoothie-Drinking, Order-Taking, Day-Making, Expert. Come Order With Me!”

For those who would like to have breakfast or just a coffee on the beach, they will be open from 7:00am till 10:00pm. – that’s opening three hours earlier.  There won’t be much shelter if it rains but a half dozen Muskoka chairs are planned.

And to make Council and the taxpayer happy, they will pay the Town $20,000 per year or 50% of profits – whichever is larger.  To do this, their books will be made available to the Town.  Note that the washrooms will no longer be their responsibility – they are being transferred to the Town.

Given the unknown plans that might come out of the Waterfront project, the contract is for only two years with an option for a one year extension.  The contract was approved at the special Council Meeting on May 1st.

Sounds to me like a big improvement – eco-friendly, customer friendly plus a wide range of menu items.

Public Meeting

marketAt the community meeting I attended (photo at right), Lucas and Montana made a few key points:

  • They are committed to running a business that is oriented to community, sustainability and health.
  • Community means working with and listening to customers and local farmers – they plan to directly connect the two.  Meeting attendees were asked to complete a short survey.
  • An example of sustainability is their plan to compost food waste and provide the result to farmers.
  • Health means their products like nutmilk, salads and smoothies.
  • They want to run their business successfully so they will not rent something at a rate that does not make sense.
  • Their store/business will start in a small space (approx. 800 sq.ft.) with  the intention of expanding over time.  Their start with the canteen will be a “baby step in the right direction”.  Initially it won’t have all possible products nor large quantities.  But if someone is unhappy to have missed out on (say) some quality apples, Lucas will take their name and deliver some when more come in.  If he really does that, that’s incomparable service!
  • Lucas said no business can simultaneously offer best price, best quality and best service.  Their focus will be on Service and Quality and they believe they can run a successful business that way.
  • Surveys have shown that 41% of Cobourg people want a downtown grocery.
  • Beach visitors are increasingly a young demographic and they want healthy food while the older demographic wants “french fries”.  They will cater to both.
  • They will also be at the Farmer’s market selling their own products e.g. nutmilk and salads.

They are clearly competent entrepreneurs and if anyone can be successful in Cobourg, they will be.

Link

European Style Market to open in Cobourg - Post on 25 March 2017

 

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