KAGAWONG – On a rainy Saturday morning in late July, residents and visitors to the village of Kagawong waited for the dark clouds to dissipate before venturing out to the ever-popular Bridal Veil Falls and other Kagawong attractions. Around the corner on Younge Street, within walking distance from the falls and Boo-Bah-Lou Candy Corner, a friendly light beckoned. The smell of fresh baking welcomed visitors as they entered. Although open for less than one month, the Sugar Bush Canadian Coffee House has already gained a reputation great coffee and delicious treats.
Proprietors Dave and Sandi Hurcomb, the same people behind the aforementioned candy store, are hoping for another success story. Both share time behind the counter with baker Carol Corneau and several part time staff.
“We’ve been really lucky. We have great staff,” said Ms. Hurcomb. “The two older girls are ridiculously responsible and hard working. They are absolute gems.” The two older girls have been with the Hurcombs for several years, starting out at Boo-Bah-Lou and now dividing their time between the two businesses.
Ms. Corneau is a personal friend and former neighbour of the Hurcombs. “She is a professional chef with papers,” Ms. Hurcomb noted. “On the Island there’s not a lot of high end places to work so she’s been a line cook for years. It’s really a waste of an incredible talent.” Ms. Corneau was given carte blanche in the kitchen, “as long as we have butter tarts.”
Butter tarts may be Ms. Hurcomb’s personal favourite but with flavours like maple pecan and coffee infused maple raisin butter tarts, they’ve quickly become a bestseller.
Customers can opt for the house coffee, custom roasted by St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters, or their favourite cappuccino or latte in addition to other hot and cold specialty beverages. There’s always something new coming out of the kitchen, such as their refreshing new summer drink, the Chocolate RandiRageous, or a decadent cupcake confection appropriately named White Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheese Pillows.
Ms. Corneau and the Hurcombs share the same philosophy: “If it’s made with quality ingredients with attention to detail, people will buy,” Ms. Hurcomb stated. “We believe the Island has progressed to the point where higher end services and more luxury is both sustainable and needed.”
The new coffee shop venture is not something the Hurcombs had expected to undertake, thinking the candy store would have been their last project. Following discussions with friend (and now business partner) Susie Harrison, who owns and operates Bare Naked Beauty, and her partner Louis Couillard, they formed a new company. The new location would house the Sugar Bush Canadian Coffee House and Bare Naked Beauty, as Ms. Harrison was looking to expand into a full service spa while continuing to offer her own (still made on site) beauty products.
“We bought the property two years ago and bulldozed it. We weren’t going to start building last year but the timing was right and precipitated a push. Once you get started, you have to plow through,” laughed Ms. Hurcomb.
“We had no idea what we were getting into. Opening any new business is frightening. Starting from scratch with an empty lot is more so.”
“We picked the design of the buildings,” she continued.” We wanted to be a part of the landscape, so it belongs but also stands out. We’ve had amazing feedback on both of the buildings. It’s something difficult to wrap your head around. You have an idea in your head and then it’s reality. I think that’s what it must feel like to be an artist, to create something from just an idea in your head.”
The buildings are similar and are connected by a walkway. “The two businesses are meant to be symbiotic,” said Ms. Hurcomb. “They’re really very complementary.”
“We want to be a community oriented place where people can come and gather or just chat with a friend,” Ms. Hurcomb explained. There are seating areas inside and out, on the spacious deck outside and inside, where visitors can choose to sit upstairs or down. The walls are adorned with local and Canadian artwork and unique home décor items can be found upstairs. A chalkboard sign reads, “Everything is for sale.”
Eventually there will be yoga classes and evening events hosted at the location. “The business will tell us what it needs to become,” added Ms. Hurcomb. “It has to always be fresh and new, otherwise you lose people.” She doesn’t like repeating the same ideas, she noted, so be on the lookout for something different year over year.
There are several “glamping” sites planned for the future. These will be located behind the existing buildings. Glamping is a more luxurious way to camp—the word was coined by joining “glamourous” with “camping.”
“It will be a fun place to stay for families or just an inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoor camping experience,” she said.
Start your day trip in Kagawong with a visit to the Sugar Bush. The Sugar Bush Canadian Coffee House is located at 22 Younge Street and is within walking distance from Bridal Veil Falls, the beach and many unique shops and galleries. Hours are 8 am until 6 pm seven days a week for the summer months, with a 7 am opening planned for after Labour Day to better cater to year round Island residents. An official grand opening is currently in the planning stages.
Look them up on Facebook or give them a call at 705-210-0500.