As part of the City of Orillia’s My Main Street Local Business Accelerator program, the My Main Street Success Story series highlights businesses in the Business Improvement Area that have achieved success through new and innovative business practices and partnerships. innovative.
Orillia’s popular downtown restaurant, Eclectic Café, will once again be expanding.
Currently located at 39 Mississaga St. W., Eclectic Café is renowned for its delicious lunch menu and exceptional catering service. The business recently expanded to take over approximately 1,000 square feet of retail space next door at 37 Mississaga St. W. to allow them to increase their foodservice production and provide space for dedicated retail to showcase homemade products alongside other local products. Ontario products that complement the café’s culinary selection.
“Our retail presence allows us to offer these products six to seven days a week and provide good quality, locally sourced, delicious, savory and sweet food options to our growing community,” said Eclectic Café owner and chef Melanie Robinson.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eclectic Café trialled a Saturday market-style setup in the cafe selling prepared meals. Robinson quickly noticed that the ready meals were incredibly popular. This demonstrated the need for dedicated retail space for such a product in downtown Orillia. The idea was reinforced after looking at the coffee market research report provided by My Main Street.
The market research report helped Robinson, along with Eclectic Café partners Mike Robinson and Alana Bell, better understand the diverse demographics and motivations of their downtown clientele. Through this report, the three learned that their target group is open to a more diverse palate, values a healthy lifestyle, and places importance on local ingredients used in their food, among other things. However, these three statistics stood out because they reinforced the need for a space like this in downtown Orillia and made it clear that their target group would appreciate a specialty grocery store similar to the one they are creating through this expansion.
With a lot of hard work on the application and a solid plan to use the funding, Eclectic Café has now been approved for one of 10 available contributions from My Main Street. The owners will use the funding to help improve their offerings in this new space. This will help buy a display refrigerator for their take-out meals, expand the current product line, and support marketing of the new space through online and radio advertisements. In addition to filling the service gaps identified in the custom market research report, this business expansion helps fill a need for specialty food stores as identified in the retail diversity study. of the city of Orillia.
“The data allowed us to look outside of regular customers and typical advertising strategies to attract new customers,” Robinson said. “The opportunity to receive funding from My Main Street will make all the difference for us after two very long and difficult years.”
Over the years of establishing the company, Robinson has also received business support from the City of Orillia and the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (CDC).
“The CDC has been instrumental in generous guidance, funding and support through its capacity grants,” Robinson said. “The City of Orillia has been very supportive and proactive in supporting downtown businesses throughout COVID-19. »
Robinson said she initially decided to open the cafe in Orillia because “Orillia is my hometown and I wanted to give back to my community and bring something different to the local scene.” She went on to say that she made the right choice because over the years she has seen that Orillia is a small, rapidly growing city.
“The city has a small-town feel with an incredibly supportive community for independent businesses,” Robinson said.
Eclectic Café has a loyal base of loyal customers who enjoy trying all the new seasonal dishes and has also seen an increase in new foot traffic in the spring and summer as more people hit the downtown streets .
Robinson is excited to see what the future holds and the growth she and her partners will see not only within their company, but within Orillia as a whole.
“We’ve lived in Orillia all our lives and watched it grow,” Robinson said. “We are passionate about the beautiful place we live in and want to celebrate it in every way possible.”
To learn more about investment and business opportunities in Orillia, visit the city’s business development website at businessinorillia.ca, subscribe to the quarterly newsletter, or contact the city’s business development office at 705-325-4900 or [email protected] To learn more about the My Main Street program, visit orillia.ca/mymainstreet.