Exciting plans are in store for OOE’s new Happy Goat Café

By Quinn Abugov

Will coffee-enthusiasts begin to roam to Old Ottawa East in the summer months of 2019? That’s what Happy Goat Coffee Company owner, Henry Assad anticipates, as he prepares to open his sixth café in the new Corners on Main in July 2019.

Happy Goat Coffee, a local, rapidly-expanding chain of cafés hopes to emulate the success already experienced at their five Ottawa locations. Since it’s humble beginnings on Laurel Street in 2011, Happy Goat has steadily grown, expanding operations to the Centretown, Old Ottawa South, Downtown Rideau and Sandy Hill neighbourhoods of the city.

“Our cafés have a warm, friendly, neighbourhood-oriented feel, and we are not cookie cutter. Each café has its own style and presentation,” Assad told The Mainstreeter.

In a neighbourhood largely devoid of “box-store” businesses, this sense of uniqueness lends itself well to the current landscape. Assad hopes to bring an approach to the new Corners on Main location that features a number of Happy Goat signatures but adds a few new and exciting twists. The new café will occupy a 1,500 square foot storefront, occupying the space on the south-east corner of the Corners on Main development. Assad intends to use the space to its fullest, serving as a café during day-time hours with a transition to an evening vibe with an expanded food offering, licensed drink menu, and an open-air patio during the warmer months.

The open-air patio, along with later operating hours, are exclusive to the Old Ottawa East Happy Goat, aspects that Assad highlights.

“The cool thing about the new space is that it’s going to have a big patio,” and unlike other Happy Goat locations, it will “stay-open until 11 pm, with a bigger food menu and, of course, offering high quality coffee.”

Assad also believes he has enough space to incorporate a small stage for quiet performances indoors, a feature also unique to the Old Ottawa East location. The owner intends to use his new café to showcase local artists and musicians and hopes to attract individuals from the area to contribute their talents. As a long-time resident of Alta Vista, Assad is familiar with the Main Street corridor, having used it since his days as a student in the 1980s.

Along with countless others, Assad feels the neighbourhood has lacked adequate commerce in years past.

“When I was attending Ottawa U in the 80’s, Main Street was kind of a transient street rather than a destination”, he recalls. However, his stance has changed in recent years, and he became more attracted to the area “initially through hearing about the Domicile and Greystone developments.”

The developments lent credence to his belief that “the neighbourhood was underserviced and in need of more consumer choices”.

Bearing in mind the population boom expected to hit the neighbourhood over the next decade, Assad hopes his café will become a community hub for coffee enthusiasts, art lovers, and anybody looking for a new local hangout.

“Our Laurel Street location is located in a nontraditional retail-area, so we strived to make it a destination rather than just a convenience. We want to bring that same vibrancy to Old Ottawa East, the same warm, welcoming atmosphere that customers expect from Happy Goat.” Assad credits the success to date of Happy Goat to one main factor, high-quality coffee beans.

“We trade coffee directly with the local producers,” Assad says. “In fact, our roast master recently returned from Costa Rica and Guatemala where he deals with the farmers directly, and in the end, overpays for a higher quality product.”

While some businesses might shy away from the idea of overpayment, for Assad it’s a no-brainer. “At the end of the day, we want to pay fair prices to the farmers, as people tend to underpay, which forces producers to sell their farms. We bring in fairness.” He notes that “we only use high-end quality coffee beans with a very low number of defects, and the processing is very detailed and precise.”The end result, he says, is a very high quality coffee bean, which leads to a great cup of joe.

While it remains to be seen if coffee enthusiasts will come in droves to the Happy Goat at the Corners on Main, its local roots, high-quality coffee, and neighbourhood vibe should appeal to local tastes, and the addition of a licensed menu and an open-air patio certainly won’t hurt the café’s chances of success

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