Daily Archives: April 18, 2011

An Opportunity for More Rural Social Space – The Coffee Shop?

Treats at the Coffee Shop, Northern Ireland

Where are the local coffee shops in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador? I am not talking about the Tim Horton‘s that are springing up practically everywhere, including rural areas. There is even a Tim Horton’s in St. Anthony, NL on the peninsula’s tip that has a town of under 3,000 people. Some residents from the Strait of Belle Isle region, where I reside have even driven more than 100 kms to get a “cup of Joe” combined with a high calorie sweet to match. This is the power of branding and the importance of changing to fit with market demands.

It was not too many years ago, that there was a local bakery in Flower’s Cove, NL. It operated for a number of years under the Dot’s Pantry “franchise”, to later be operated as Sweets & Eats. As a youth, I did not appreciate the business as a venue to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee; however, they never really promoted themselves as a coffee shop in the traditional sense.
 
For me, it was really more of the bakery, a place to get a cake for a birthday or other special occasion. One could also get freshly baked bread, pies, squares and other desserts, as well as a limited variety of lunch choices, which included jigs dinner, soups, sandwiches and chili. However, the coffee was limited to just basic brewed. Additionally, there were only two small tables with a couple of chairs.

Espresso and Latte in Paris, France

 
A coffee shop in rural parts of Europe have a variety of good java. One can get a selection of freshly brewed coffee with flavours to choose. There is also mocha, cappuccino, latte and espresso. I certainly love a good espresso! As well, there is an array of teas, herbal, chai teas, decaffeinated teas, coffees and of course hot chocolate. Tim Horton’s has even adapted a number of these products to their menu, but offers them at a low-cost price. This is reflective of quality, as Tim Horton’s  is less generous with whip creams and syrups.  European coffee shops exhibit a nice relaxing and inviting atmosphere, versus the cafeteria or institutional/fast food stylings of Tim Horton’s.
 
There is an opportunity for more  social space in Rural Newfoundland and Labrador, with the decline of the local lounges. The social commons is changing from the local wharves and the kitchen tables, as we have become more integrated into larger regional communities. We need a fitting space for those to mingle and discuss events of the day. We require a space that is senior, seasonal employee, family, youth, tourist, handicap and professional friendly to survive and thrive in a sparsely populated rural setting.
 
Gros Morne National Park has a gem of a coffee shop in Java Jacks! I highly recommend it. Only time will tell if there is room for a coffee shop in the Strait of Belle Isle region and if it can fill the need of creating a social space that is acceptable by those living and passing through our rural region.
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher Mitchelmore
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