North End community residents can now say they know the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee, breakfast or lunch.
Destiny Michell and Erica Contois opened The Perfect Place Café at Merchants Corner (541 Selkirk Ave.) on Nov. 4.
The restaurant has been a long time coming for Michell and Contois, who have been cooking together since 2003. It was happenstance that the pair only met when they were both hired as cooks at a nearby group home, even though they had lived in the same community nearly all their lives.
After working a series of other cooking jobs together, including at Community Education Development Association (CEDA), a non-profit organization also located at Merchants Corner, the duo started a catering business.
"That’s basically how it came about, just all the support in the community and how we got to be known in the community was by cooking for people," Michell said. "It’s kind of like really surreal sometimes, like it just fell into place. It was always a big dream of Erica’s to run a café, or like a little, tiny restaurant."
The idea of the pair opening a café in the building was already floating around prior to the construction of Merchants Corner.
The building, which also houses the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies, replaced Merchants Hotel to provide a positive shift in the area.
The hotel was notorious for alcohol and drug activity, something Michell and Contois don’t plan to tolerate at the café.
"We’re not going to be licensed for alcohol. That’s something that was in this community for a long time, so changing that, I think, makes a big difference. We’ve been asked a few times if we’re going to be licensed here, we said ‘No, not here.’ That’s not what we’re about here; it’s just feeding the community," Contois said.
Another way they would like to make a positive impact in the community is by being a destination for youth seeking employment.
"Our hopes are to be able to hire students or to give kids something on their resume," Michell said. "That’s one thing that we were hoping to get out of this."
Additionally, they said half of the tips collected will be donated to a CEDA scholarship fund as a way to give back to the community.
"It’s just incredible how much support we have," Michell said.
The two have a couple of catering contracts they’d like to focus on right now, but hopefully in the new year they will expand the café menu and hours, they said.
The restaurant is currently open Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Community Journalist - The Times
Sydney Hildebrandt is the community journalist for The Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org