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Did you know one of our franchisees is a chartered accountant? Or that another used to be a school principal? Did you know we have a franchisee who has climbed Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua?!
With nearly 40 aroma espresso bar locations across Toronto and Southern Ontario to date, our franchisees are a hard-working and interesting group of diverse women and men, each with a different background and their own story to tell.
Welcome to the first installment of our new #aromaBlog series, Meet A Franchisee. Through these posts, we hope to bring you closer with the owners and operators you see each day when you visit your neighbourhood aroma espresso bar.
Name: Alasdair Grant
Store: The Shops at Lansdowne, Ottawa
In February 2016, Alasdair opened the first aroma espresso bar in Ottawa to great excitement. Since then, he has regularly supported numerous local charities including Ottawa’s United Way and the Boobyball and is a constant fixture at events taking place in Lansdowne Park. In March 2016, he was featured in the Ottawa Citizen where he shared our recipe for Freekeh Salad.
Think back to the first time you ever visited an aroma espresso bar. Where was it and what was your first impression?
It was at 430 King Street West (at Spadina). I think it had just opened. I knew aroma had good food but I was blown away. Ottawa has restaurants with good food, and there are places where you can get good coffee; but not both.
What interested you in opening your own aroma espresso bar?
I always dreamed of running a restaurant or café but never considered it a possibility. One day a friend messaged me and said he knew aroma was looking to expand into Ottawa and wanted someone local be the franchisee. I jumped at the opportunity.
What do you enjoy most about owning and/or operating your aroma espresso bar?
The food. The coffee. The fact my family and I can eat this food every day and be healthier for it. I discovered long ago that you succeed in the business of selling or serving something when you yourself consume and enjoy the product you stand behind.
Your café is in Ottawa. What do you like most about being there?
Ottawa is a very big small town. Or a very small big city. There is a sense of community here. The neighbourhoods have a lot of character and goodwill, people talk to each other. And fortunately this has worked in my favour. I have had a great number of people who became instant fans and helped spread the word on social media and even through old-fashioned word-of-mouth. I never imagined such a warm welcome.
Describe a memorable moment at aroma espresso bar.
At my aroma? Having our soft launch in February 2016 on the day of a record-breaking snowfall in Ottawa. It snowed over 51cm that evening, shattering the previous record set in 1947. Naturally, most people invited didn’t make it out that night. But considering how many still trudged out, I consider it a testament to this city’s passion for aroma.
What advice would you offer someone considering opening an aroma espresso bar?
Like coffee. It sounds silly but if you don’t like coffee it will be hard to be passionate about what you do at aroma. If you want to run your own business and you aren’t passionate about it, you probably won’t be giving your 100%. Also, giving that 100% is hard to do when you are really tired. The biggest perk of owning a café is having access to lots of really good coffee!
Tell us something about yourself you’ve never told anyone until now.
I regret not buying more Pogs.
OK. For real.
I once did a big tour (walkabout if you will) of the USA on Greyhound buses. I spent several hundred hours on these buses, saw some strange parts of the states and met even stranger people. It is not a comfortable, pleasant or even economical way to travel, but it was an adventure, and memories I will always have.
Favourite Hot Drink: Espresso
Favourite Cold Drink: Kale-Mango Smoothie
Favourite Breakfast: Breakfast Sandwich
Favourite Salad: Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Favourite Sandwich: Tuna
Favourite Pastry: Multigrain Croissant
(cover photo l-r: Tom Dewar, Shlomit Sufa, Alasdair Grant)