She’s pleased to meat you! New addition to bustling Stafford-Grosvenor community is a proudly Indigenous, woman-owned charcuterie café
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Cassandra Carreiro hustled to grab two bricks of cheese.
She’d just folded deli meat into roses inside a takeout box. The platter was void of baguette slices, blueberries, grapes, mustard, sprigs of rosemary — all things to be added before the SkipTheDishes driver arrived. But first, the cheese.
“I’m used to kind of, like, taking my time,” Carreiro said, slicing white cheddar and adding it to the takeout charcuterie tray. “I’m not used to (this).”
Since October 2020, Carreiro had operated Sharecuterie out of ghost kitchens, shipping elaborate platters of finger foods across the city.
Last March, she took a “full plunge” into the business, quitting her part-time job as a registered psychiatric nurse and opening an eatery at 160 Stafford St.
This Saturday marks Sharecuterie’s grand opening. It’s Winnipeg’s first drop in, sit-down charcuterie café. It follows Peckish, the city’s first brick-and-mortar charcuterie storefront, which opened last December on Pembina Highway.
“I wanted to make sure I ironed everything out before I opened,” Carreiro said, spooning jam into a takeout cup. “It’s way different being an online business to… having a physical café.”
For one, she wasn’t offering coffee or ice cream sandwiches before. Now an espresso machine stands near the shop’s front door. One Stafford-facing window sticker touts Sharecuterie is 100 per cent Indigenous and woman-owned.
“I still… don’t necessarily believe that I own a charcuterie café in the heart of River Heights,” Carreiro, 33, said. “It’s definitely surprising.”
“I wanted to make sure I ironed everything out before I opened… It’s way different being an online business to… having a physical café.”–Cassandra Carreiro
She grew up in the North End with her sights set on a medical career. Charcuterie board-making was an activity she shared with friends and family.
“You can still have fancy food without the ability to cook,” Carreiro said with a laugh.
Loved ones nudged Carreiro to begin a business, but she hesitated and questioned whether there was a market.
Then the pandemic hit. In October 2020, she dipped her toe into entrepreneurship and began selling charcuterie boards (while nursing).
“I thought it was just going to be for fun, like no one would really buy — maybe friends and family,” she said. “Now here I am.”
Now, she and two part-time staff juggle SkipTheDishes orders, catering requests and walk-in traffic off a bustling street.
Sharecuterie outgrew the ghost kitchen space it rented while Carreiro worked part-time as a nurse. She’d spend her off-duty hours creating food bouquets and picturesque spreads.
“I would only take the plunge (into full-time entrepreneurship) if the perfect location came up,” she said. “(This) was the perfect location.”
She quit her nursing job last winter to open the café. The space formerly housed The Canteen Coffee Shop. It’s close to Sharecuterie’s customer base — and it’s visible.
“I’m taking up space where you wouldn’t necessarily think that an Indigenous business would be,” she said.
On her shop’s window, a sticker announces Sharecuterie is a “safe space.” Below is a pride flag.
“There are certain spaces in the city where you go, and as an Indigenous person, you don’t necessarily feel welcomed,” Carreiro said.
“I’m taking up space where you wouldn’t necessarily think that an Indigenous business would be.”–Cassandra Carreiro
She meets with other Indigenous entrepreneurs in Manitoba — a pool that’s too small, she noted — and draws inspiration from peers.
“When you can… see us all together in a room, it just provides hope that things are changing,” she said, adding there’s a constant fight against stigma and intergenerational trauma.
“Not only are we still here, we’re also succeeding and proving people wrong.”
She’s using the roughly 1,000-square-foot space for workshops. A masterclass on Indigenous beadwork, with charcuterie snacks, is in the works next month.
As Carreiro zipped around Sharecuterie, grabbing ingredients for her SkipTheDishes order, Joan Bartley walked in.
“I was just so inspired by what it said out there,” Bartley said, referencing Sharecuterie’s sign about being Indigenous and owned by a woman.
She launched into questions about dietary accommodations, peppered with “all right” and “excellent” upon hearing there’s vegan cheese and nut-friendly (but not nut-free) options.
Word about Sharecuterie has spread. Shira Wood heard about the place via a customer at Girl Candy Shop, her place of work and a neighbour to the eatery.
“I would definitely go and pick up,” Wood said.
Catering and delivery are still Sharecuterie’s biggest draws, according to Carreiro. Still, customers are visiting the shop that she decorated “a little bit eccentric, because I feel I am.”
Likenesses of Prince, David Bowie and American drag queen RuPaul face patrons from behind the counter, stickered on tall candles.
“You can still have fancy food without the ability to cook.”–Cassandra Carreiro
Reality television star Nicole (Snooki) Polizzi replaces the Mona Lisa in a framed picture, exposing Carreiro’s love of Jersey Shore.
“You wouldn’t necessarily notice if you’re just looking quickly,” Carreiro said, glancing at Snooki, who’s stationed near flowers and napkins.
Carreiro sells locally made products she uses in her charcuterie boards, including Smak Dab mustard and La Belle Baguette baked goods.
She hopes to sell wine once a liquor licence is approved. Ten per cent of sales from her grand opening Saturday will be donated to the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network. A classic charcuterie or cheese board in the shop costs $35.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.