By MAGGIE M, Editor, http://thewedge.LIVE
I was the first to arrive at a “top-secret”, invitation-only, pre-opening celebration of Smiths Falls’ newest, “Cafe Whim,” on trendy Russell Street.
As I settled in, Amber Hall, Co-Founder, Equator Coffee, walked in delivering coffee in person to Cafe Whim owner, Brian Paquette. I trust she drove all the way from Almonte. It was a fine start and the impetus needed for a great photo.
Then, I quickly learned why the event was so hush-hush. A drama was in progress.
The owners’ parents were kept in the dark about this venture since its inception. On this night, they were fed tales of a surprise party at Fort Hemlock before staging a u-turn to Cafe Whim. I watched their faces, as they entered and found their son-in-law and daughter behind the counter. You could see the movie playing backwards in their heads. Their expression was similar to, “a dog looking at a fan.” (I heard that expression from a friend who owns a restaurant in Nashville. It’s a Southern thing.) It was a private moment; but, funny to watch. I later chuckled with both parents who were still, “taking it in.”
My early start was aimed at capturing the handiwork of The Davidson Courtyard owners, Scott Taylor and Lyne Houle, before it disappeared behind an army of guests. Windows and beams were salvaged from historic Smiths Falls buildings and integrated into the design with care and precision. The colour palette is rich, yet understated. The final effect is, “shabby-chi-chi.”
The history of the The Davidson Courtyard is critical to them; so, I have added a special section below for their pleasure, and yours.
I visited from time to time standing in the midst of rubble, as the owners of The Davidson Courtyard worked a sweat renovating the venue. Taylor is an Engineer; so, every inch of this venue has been put to the test. I have so enjoyed our conversations, always captivating and full of his wit.
These two affable, big-hearted souls will serve Smiths Falls and their tenants well. I love to be in their company, as many do.
I turn your attention to Brian Paquette. He is the current owner of the leading Smiths Falls gym; now, he is also a restauranteur. On the menu, he is referred to as, Coach Brian. Duly noted. When I queried him on the doubling of his responsibilities, his role as father and husband to Vanessa (who owns The Gilded Monarch next door), he answered, “I don’t need much sleep.”
That’s it folks. They key to success is less sleep!
Paquette is a tall, rugged-man who could bench press three of me while preparing a charcuterie plate. When he crossed his arms, all flinty-eyed, I told myself, “he’s a puppy inside.” I dared to hope. And so as the night evolved, it became evident.
Paquette thanked everyone with two good speeches, first with 4 Degrees beer and Pelee wine, another with a glass of champagne. Everyone cheered heartily, twice. We all do wish them well. (I consider, the couple now runs three businesses in Smiths Falls.)
The place filled up quickly. I suspect the visuals in our email invitations triggered a Pavlovian, drooling response: images of wild game sausages, meats, pate, creative baguette sandwiches, 4 Degrees Beer and wine. People convene around food. Places that bring people together birth relationships and friendships. And so, it did.
The Paquettes met in the ByWard Market’s, Wim Cafe; hence, the name. Who will remember Whim Cafe twenty years from now as the catalyst to a life-long relationship?
When people are shoulder-to-shoulder consuming a few libations, no heat is required. Thank goodness the Paquettes did not light up the fireplace.
There is abundant esprit-de-corps in Smiths Falls. It was evident last night.
This writer was delighted to meet Kathy Botham, F.Y.I. Show Host, TV Cogeco. She is a talented interviewer. I have watched her a few times on-line. I enjoyed her interview of Kari Clarke, Head of Perth BIA, whom I hold in high regard. TV Cogeco penetrates communities with relevance serving them well.
This writer enjoyed devouring comedy tips from our own Sheldon Giff, owner of The Rideau Candy Shoppe, also on Russell Street. This young man sits on many councils wielding influence; but, he is also a brave stand-up comic of consequence. When you enter his store, he will not perform on demand. Comics are protective of their ‘bits’. He will however sell you candy from the late 180os, surely consumed by the Davidsons in their childhood (freshly-made for the comics here).
ABOUT THE DAVIDSON COURTYARD
M.F. Davidson ran the “largest, most up-to-date and most sanitary,” bakery and bread plant between Montreal and Toronto at the turn of the 20th century. You will discern the bakery’s elevator on the left, just right of centre, lifting flour bags to the top floor. This elevator is still present today and a focal point to visitors of The Davidson Courtyard, Smiths Falls. The right walls are the bones to present day Dawn’s Closet and the rear to present day apartments and shop, The Gilded Monarch.
Needless to say, it is no longer in operation; but, it is fondly remembered by owners, tenants, and locals.
The bakery is older than commonly known as it was founded by H.A. Davidson around 1875. His son M.F. Davidson took over in 1906, four years before his father’s passing. He is credited with expanding the bakery using technologies of the day and was exalted for the quality of his products by epicures.
The current owners of the courtyard honour the Davidsons, their works and Smiths Falls history by keeping this fine location branded, The Davidson Courtyard. Currently its tenants include: The Loft Artisan Consignment (with an apparel addition), Whim Cafe, The Gilded Monarch and Dawn’s Closet (vintage and memorabilia).
Outdoor transformation now begins including retro-signage on its edge and at the corner of Beckwith and Russell. How delicious!
CAFE WHIM OPENS:
Cafe Whim opens to the public Monday, May 1st, 11am. Address: 7 Russell Street West, Smiths Falls, Ontario.
Here is their website to view their menu. (Beautiful site produced by Meraki Collective.)
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