Andre Clement and Adrienne Huard are the owners of a new café in St. Boniface called Café Postal. – Cheyenne Rae
Growing pains might be to blame for the grim reality of the past few months in this city. In between the domino effect of business closures in the West End, and the media landscape quietly imploding, many of us have been feeling the pangs of adolescence right along with our city.
Now that the old gods are dead, however, those prophets among us are already looking to the future.
“I feel like a lot of us have hated Winnipeg at some point in our lives, and thought ‘Screw this, I’m moving to Montreal,’” Adrienne Huard, co-owner of Cafe Postal reflects. “And then you come back and you think, ‘I can make Winnipeg cool.’”
And that’s precisely what she’s out to do.
Huard, 25, and her fiancée, Andre Clement, 32, have joined the growing ranks of young entrepreneurs taking up arms and looking to inject the city with a little old world charm.
Even after hours, newly opened Café Postal is a hub of activity. Late afternoon light filters into the basement bar window, spilling onto a row of familiar faces. Though only open since mid-October, friends already seem at home in the tiny space.
“I think Provencher needed this,” Huard says, taking up one of just six seats at the bar. “I think before we were kind of embarrassed - the french quarter doesn’t have any good coffee shops.”
The community, she says, has been welcoming.
“Friendly Manitoba sounds so cheesy, but there’s some truth to it,” Huard laughs.
The fact that Francophone Clement was raised in the neighborhood may have helped.
So far, the pair have hit all the right notes. Sustainable design and bolstering local economy? Check; the beautiful bar is fashioned out of a piece of diseased Elm by local outfit Wood Anchor.
A small, but selective, menu? Double check; the couple sampled upwards of 20 varieties of espresso in the search for the right one.
“That was a crazy week - we did maybe about six double shots of espresso a week,” Huard says, laughing again.
Historic neighborhood on the cusp of revival? Cross it off; the espresso bar is located on the main strip of Provencher, in the French District, across from the old Post Office.
Café Postal will generally cater to students from the nearby Universite St. Boniface and business types in the area.
But that’s not all. With the Museum of Human Rights slated to open in 2014, Huard hopes that “people are going to start walking this way to the French District.”
As the song goes, with buildings gone missing like teeth, it will take that kind of long term projection and commitment to excellence for this new wave of businesses to outlast the ones that came before it.
The city, it seems, is ripe for change.