February 20, 2019
Strong Roots // Our Office Building & Cafe’ Story
Running two businesses Jeff Kitchen Real Estate & Vantage Build Inc. alongside a team of 10 in a 300 square foot shared office space has its perks and its challenges too. We were bursting at the seams just 2 weeks ago, before we moved into our newly restored heritage office at 2 Grove Avenue in Rothesay, New Brunswick. Why is an office building so important? This one has a particularly special story and a strong community tie-in.
In June 2017, Jeff and Brittany Kitchen identified a residential property that wasn’t on the market and approached the homeowners who responded as cool as cucumbers: “find us something we like and we’re open to moving”. Done. Our team lives for crafty matching.
It was a game of chess, strategically moving the pieces one at a time. The new home these homeowners wanted required work too. So, we weren’t able to commence at 2 Grove Avenue until we completed a 3-floor home renovation. This allowed us time to get our chips in a row and plot the commercial heritage project. What is going to serve our clients better? What does our team need? What is missing from the community? What could enhance lifestyle? Encourage walkability? What is the history at 2 Grove Avenue?
Originally built in 1850 as a gardener’s cottage by D.D. Robertson as part of his estate. The property was formerly a store (part of which was also formerly a cobbler’s shop) owned by Ethel Starr throughout the 1950’s. When Mrs. Starr closed her store in 1959, the building took on new life as a treasured home for many families throughout the years. Ask someone from the area and they’re sure to know the name of a family who has lived here before (we see you Norval Butland). As we dug into the backstory of this heritage property, turns out its roots and community heritage run deep.
This prompted an A-ha Moment. Let’s reconnect the community back inside this property. Not by offering weird office building tours but let’s dedicate one third of the property to a cafe. Licensed, of course.
It would have been easy to keep the entire building for our two businesses: Jeff Kitchen Real Estate and Vantage Build Inc. Sure, it was more space than we needed, but it would have been way less cost, way less risk and way less time. However once we determined what this property was, we knew we had to reinstate it. Our very own remix of Ethel Starr’s shop.
There was another hurdle though and it was a big one. Jeff and Brittany have zero food and beverage experience. In came Jessica Reid. Who was a longtime friend, fellow Rothesay Netherwood School alumni and industry-expert. Together the three opened the cafe cleverly called Garden Grove, its namesake being a blend of its gardeners’ cottage history and location on Grove Avenue.
This makes 3 businesses, 1 roof all responsible and complimentary to the local that surrounds us. We are hoping to bring business back to coffee shop talk and instill a sense of the way things were, when this hardworking property was a member of the community. You would be hard-pressed to find another place in Atlantic Canada where a boutique real estate company, design/build business and cafe are blended seamlessly under the rafters of a restored heritage property.
Given this project’s long-winded storyline, the purpose of this post is to explain how the property was and came to be in our hands, in addition to how it’s going to function. Better yet, we would love to explain everything over coffee at Garden Grove. Check-out its sharp new website here.
Keep in close contact, once the weather is warmer we will do a follow-up post with before, afters, exteriors and reveal of the office space in addition to the full restoration process completed by Vantage Build.
For now, here is the cafe reveal.