THUNDER BAY -- It’s not often that road-trip-conversations turn into reality, but that’s how Alan Forbes and Gary Mack came to Bay Village Coffee.
The married couple were on a road trip to Minneapolis a few months ago when they started talking about coffee, and that led to detailed discussions about what their dream coffee shop would be like. By the time they reached their destination, they had a whole new cafe mapped out in their heads.
The two didn’t think much of their brainstorming session at the time, but shortly after, the casino where Forbes had worked at for the last 18 years underwent a change of ownership.
“There was a buyout offer, and I wasn’t sure what to do; should I do it, should I not do it, and then we found out this place was for sale, and suddenly it all came together. It was the right timing, the right opportunity,” Forbes explains.
“We were looking for something that we could do together that was different,” adds Mack. “We love entertaining, and we have big parties at our house, our house is a hub for family celebrations, and we love food, so this really felt like a natural move.”
They took over on June 1 and spent a busy week renovating. The purple and yellow exterior was tidied up into black and white, and the interior was also given a makeover; replacing the colourful mismatched vintage look with a cleaner simple aesthetic.
Getting ready for their soft opening, there were moments when they got nervous, but they realized, “it’s just like having a party. Only it’s every day.”
Mack’s career has always been in social work (until September 2017, he was executive director at Shelter House) and he still has a full-time job in the field in addition to doing all of the baking for Bay Village Coffee.
There are fresh hot muffins every morning when they open, and they serve soup and sandwiches for lunch. They get their coffee from Rose N Crantz, collaborate with local bakers for gluten-free options and are working with gardeners to compost their waste.
“We’ll just keep expanding as we’re able to take on more,” Mack says.