BUSINESS BEAT – Greens & Beans – Tough timing, but community support buoys the spirit of OOE’s newest business owners

Quinn Abugov 

As Old Ottawa East and the rest of the world have been shuttered over the past few months, the same can’t be said for the neighbourhood’s newest business, Greens and Beans.

The small North African and Mediterranean eatery, located next to Nu Grocery in the Corners on Main development, opened its doors in early March, just as the pandemic sent people into their homes to physical distance.

Healthy fruit juices and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine are helping to build a faithful following for the new owners of Greens & Beans who enjoy the unique village-feel of Old Ottawa East.

Healthy fruit juices and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine are helping to build a faithful following for the new owners of Greens & Beans who enjoy the unique village-feel of Old Ottawa East.

Co-owners Krista Arnold and her husband Ali Nahlé, a chef originally hailing from Lebanon, with stops in Spain and Gabon, offer a wide variety of healthy dishes inspired by Ali’s Middle Eastern and Mediterranean roots.

“My husband doesn’t like any processed or junk food. He’s a purist,” says Arnold when discussing the restaurant’s menu. Popular menu items include homemade Falafel, Hummus, Babaganoush and specialty Arab dishes such as the classic, Kushari, a mixed rice delicacy which is considered
to be Egypt’s national dish.

Arnold also makes a new soup each day for customers to try.

When asked what inspired her and her husband to open a business in Old Ottawa East, Arnold says they were drawn to “the beautiful culture and unique village-feel of the neighbourhood.”

She was quick in praising the virtues of local residents. “People are proud of their neighbourhood and are very friendly. Having owned a number of businesses around Ottawa, we’ve never met people as friendly as the people in this neighbourhood,” says Arnold.

Nahlé and Arnold care a lot about the environment, hate waste and have ensured all of their containers are compostable, which lends itself to the eco-friendly feel of Old Ottawa East.

She mentions that they’ve received outstanding support from the community thus far, despite the challenging circumstances, and that the pandemic has allowed her to spend more one-on-one time with customers, something she cherishes.

When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the couple’s business in the early going, she explained the measures they’ve had to put in place.

For instance, opening hours have had to be reduced and staffing has been kept to a minimum.

“It’s just Ali, our nephew and I working at the moment.”

They’ve also had to rely on Uber Eats and curbside pickup to fulfill orders, which has been “bittersweet” for Arnold.

Importing specialty foods from Montreal has also become more difficult with interprovincial checkpoints in place.

Despite the unfortunate timing of their opening and some early changes to their business model, Arnold is optimistic for the future.

Next time you’re tired of making dinner, stay local and let Greens and Beans do the cooking!

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