Independent coffee shop has become vibrant community hub
On any given day it’s easy to see the City’s business getting done. No, we’re not at City Hall right now in your faithful scribe’s scenario. We are, in fact, at Boiling Over’s Coffee Vault in downtown Lindsay.
Meetings take place between City officials here. Economic Development might stop by for a tête-à-tête. Community groups meet to plan their activities. It’s not all business, of course. There’s socializing and debate, conversations and interviews. It’s a mix of millennials, Generation Z, Generation X, and Boomers. (Well, pretty much all ages.)
I’ve seen teachers lesson planning, students doing homework, and artists talking music.
What is perhaps more amazing is that less than 750 metres away there is a Tim Hortons, the company still pretending to be Canadian. (It hasn’t sunk in yet for a lot of people that Tim’s parent company is now a Brazilian multinational.)
Boiling Over? One hundred per cent Canadian…and 100 per cent local.
Three years ago, before the independent coffee house opened, the owners listened to the feedback that there was a need in Lindsay for something more upscale and more adult friendly. It’s what they have delivered, fine tuning things over the years to incorporate an artistic, community hub vibe.
“We were mocked when we opened it,” says Jamie Bergin, one of four owners of Boiling Over, “with Tim Hortons only a block away.”
Yet business is up 20-25 per cent over this time last year.
The other owners are his daughter, Taryn Bergin, who does important background work in purchasing and keeping things organized, and long-time friend and business partner, James Myette. Now, store manager, Laura LeMiere, has also been brought into the ownership fold.
“Laura has been a big part of our success,” says James, who notes they recruited her from Starbucks within Target during the department store chain’s failed attempt to enter Canada.
As for Laura, she makes note of all the community group members or officials who meet up at Boiling Over, from La Leche League’s local breastfeeding group, to spiritual groups, book clubs, real estate agents, City of Kawartha Lakes staff and Kawartha Lakes Pride, to name but a few.
(Even The Lindsay Advocate got its online start primarily here, thanks to the coffee house’s early hours, WiFi, and welcoming vibe.)
The coffee house supports the local Boys and Girls Club, area high schools, Kawartha Lakes Pride, A Place Called Home, Women’s Resources, the local hospice organization and many charity events as needed.
Jamie says he loves to see the coffee house buzzing.
“I love walking in here and seeing people working,” says Jamie.
James agrees. “I see high school kids meeting, Fleming students, business people – it’s great for the community to offer this space that is welcoming.”
Some people wondered why they didn’t choose something more corporate to put on the corner of Kent and Cambridge Streets, where they’re located.
“We could have looked for a franchise but that really wasn’t our style,” says Jamie.
Boiling Over is a big supporter of the arts community, with its open mic nights on the third Friday of each month. Acts come from the Greater Toronto Area, as well as locally, and it continues to grow. This has been parallel to the growth of the arts community in Lindsay in general.
Gerald Van Halteren has hosted the open mics during the last few years the coffee house has been open and has went out of his way to encourage younger talent, according to Laura.
“Lindsay has become a real artsy town,” says James. “It can get packed in here on open mic nights.
He says Lindsay has changed culturally, economically, and in its demographics compared to when he was growing up here.
“There’s more wealth now. Lindsay’s downtown is healthier and thriving,” says Jamie. “We always wanted to be involved in community life.”
Ownership of the dynamic coffee house has allowed this to happen.