Glebe businesses, young and old, agree that ‘it’s the people’ that makes the area so great
It’s the people.
You don’t have to spend long with one of the many new businesses that have popped up in the neighbourhood over the last few months to realize why they chose the Glebe as their new home.
Pick up a fresh baguette at Ichiban Bakery, a new necklace at Goldart Jewellery Studio, snack on some Asian fusion apps at the new Makita Kitchen Bar, or grab a quick taco at Lansdowne’s new Quesada and they will all tell you the same thing: It’s the people.
“That’s what I am really looking forward to here, is the community involvement. You can see it It’s very apparent here in this neighbourhood,” says Joanna Rozanski, whose father Mark started Goldart Jewellery Studio more than 40 years ago.
“I’ve never had people just, out of the kindness of their hearts, come in and welcome us. It’s been so nice. Just out of the blue, people are either curious or just want to come say hi. It’s great.”
Goldart opened in the Glebe last fall, but they were setting the business up around the time of the Great Glebe Garage Sale, and although the shop wasn’t even open yet, the Rozanski’s were down on the street with a table, raising money for the Sens Foundation. It didn’t take them long to get into the community spirit.
Step one foot in the door at their 722 Bank Street shop, and you’ll be greeted by Joanne’s mom Helen with either a hug or a giant smile that’s incredibly infectious. The recently renovated space, which was formerly Buclkand’s Fine Clothing, is a slick, open concept jewellery store, with bright display cases throughout. It’s a space that’s inviting for everyone, even for those who aren’t looking to buy jewellery, but just want to say “hi.”
“I love this neighbourhood,” adds Joanna.
It’s much of the same story down the road at Makita, the Glebe’s newest restaurant to open its doors. The Asian-fusion resto bar at 589 Bank Street has only been open for three months, but is already seeing familiar faces walk through the door weekly.
“It’s been really great. Lots of locals and people from the neighbourhood,” says Caroline Murphy, general manager at the kitchen bar. The restaurant serves comfort food with an Asian flare to it. Think big portions, reasonable prices in a relaxed, but classy atmosphere.
“We’ve already had some pretty solid regulars. People are coming back.”
But it’s not just the customers that make the Glebe a great place to open a business, it’s the fellow shop owners who have made the transition for new ventures an easy one. For Murphy, it’s places like the Barnstormer Tattoo shop and Studio B Urban Hair next door who are helping spread the word to their clients.
“We are in this nice little nook over here in the Glebe,” adds Murphy.
June Tam, owner of the new Ichiban Bakery also feels the love from her patrons. After opening a second location at 825 Bank Street, Tam says locals have been stopping by daily, just to say hi, grab a coffee, or pick up, “the best baguette in Ottawa.” The French Baker may have something to say about that.
Tam’s background lies in the medical field, but when she was given the devastating news that she had cancer five years ago, she decided to follow her dream of having her own bakery.
“I honestly didn’t know how long I had to live,” says Tam.
“I cried for 15 minutes straight when I found out. That changed my life.”
She’s sitting in her Bank Street Ichiban Bakery, and tears are starting to pool in her eyes. But they aren’t all sad tears, it’s mostly joy when she sees how far she has come.
“I was lucky, I bought a good business. Not just in the sense that I make money, but It’s the kind of business that makes me feel life again. Life is good,” says Tam, adding it’s the people – everyone from customers to fellow business owners that have really made her feel like she’s home in the Glebe although she’s only been open for a few months.
Judy Richards, former owner, and on-call jeweller at Davidson’s Jewellers isn’t surprised to hear about how special the people are in the Glebe. Davidson’s early success heavily depended on connecting with the local customers on a personal level. It’s what the entire spirit of the Glebe’s business community is built on.
“It’s really important to connect with all your clients,” she says, adding that Davidson’s has been in the Glebe since 1939.
“It’s the crux of having a successful business.”
She agrees it’s easy to connect with Glebe residents because they are already so friendly, but she’s still amazed at how deep the connection goes, with her staff at the jewellery store knowing customers – and their families – on a deeply personal level.
It’s much of the same at many of the Glebe’s established business. Step inside the Glebe Meat Market and owner Stephane Sauve will be chuckling with a customer over last week’s delicious sausage supper.
“It’s like a little town within the city. Everyone says hi, everyone knows you, everyone comes to ask how you are doing,” says Rebecca McKeen, co-owner of McKeen Metro Glebe. The McKeen family business has been running since 1919 when her great grandfather opened a general store on Bank Street. The grocery has since become a staple in the Glebe – a true exclusive grocery store from some their long-standing customers.
“You have regular customers that are here multiple times a week and you get to know that, and it does have that significant community feel to it. It makes a difference for sure.”
Thanks for making a difference, Glebe.