That awkward moment when your ambitions actually happen….

21 Jul

An update on Bel’s world of coffee is needed, rather drastically. Fortunately I have plenty of time to write, since I am currently on a plane, headed to Chicago and then on to Regina, Saskatchewan….

Contrary to my previous post, things have not been going brilliantly at Doctor Coffee’s Cafe. A combination of things, really: a few of our regular customers realising they were chronically broke, a longish period of time with nothing on at the theatre during the week, and of course, chaotic weather where when it’s hot, we can’t tempt people with hot drinks, and when it’s chucking it down with rain, no one ventures out and past our cafe. Nothing serious or permenant, but it does make me realise how much we rely on the theatre and a small group of regulars for the majority of our trade. This in itself is not sustainable. It is also exhausting and frustrating. I don’t enjoy it being that quiet as both Miranda and I get very bored, and worse, putting in such long hours and so much work for so little return is very disheartening. Jo and I had The Conversation – as in, how long can we last like this? What happens if it doesn’t pick up? I really couldn’t answer – It HAS to work out. We’re in the lease now, and I’ve invested so so much in it, not just money that it would be heartbreaking to fold. I do really believe it has potential, that we will get there eventually, and like I said in the previous post, I do try and remind myself and Jo that we are doing very well indeed for a fledgling business, with no investment, in the middle of a recession and in Darlington. But then, I can’t live off thin air indefinitely.

It is the last part, the ‘in Darlington’ bit that really bugs me. I really do not like this town, and Doctor Coffee’s was very much a result of not being able to find any other job in Darlington. I wanted to build something that would make me like the place, a reason to stay put. Our location is not great even ignoring the wider issues with the town itself – we are not even inside the “town centre” according to the council – but then, premises in the town centre were prohibitively expensive in comparison. I always have this niggling doubt in the back of my mind: “maybe this would be easier in another town, maybe we’d be busier somewhere else”. Basically, despite my best efforts, there is just no gourmet coffee market round here!!

So anyway, with my head full of thoughts like this, I came home after a soul-destroyingly quiet, rain soaked day in an utterly foul mood and dabbled in a bit of escapism and fantasy. I google searched for “Coffee Jobs in Canada”, found a jobs listing site called, and fired off a few applications and CVs, almost indiscriminately (I have a nasty feeling I sent one to Tim Hortons, but I know I drew the line at Starbucks!) I really was just messing about, I did not expect anyone to even read the applications let alone take me seriously.

People have this unnerving habit of taking me seriously.

The next day, I got a 3 word email: “do you skype?” I replied and said I could do, and lo and behold I got a call from Ken at Kave Haz cafe, in Regina, Saskatchewan. Kave Haz is a brand new, “European-style” coffee shop, and Ken needs a manager for the place. Strangely, he has had very, very few applications from local Canadians. Better yet, he had the vague plan of the manager eventually taking over the place entirely once the business is established. This is GOOD. I know I could do that job happily – hell, I AM doing that job already but with less staff! The PhD makes me somewhat unique which will help a great deal with Canadian Immigration, and the process is speeded up by actually having an offer of employment.
Two interweb phone calls later, and I have a verbal job offer.

This all sounds perfect. Too perfect?

I have no idea who this guy is. I also have no clue what Regina is like. It is right, right in the middle of the big empty flat bit in the middle. Prairies. Corn. Farms. Not much else. Extremes of temperature, and a very limited write-up in Lonely Planet! Regina has a huge Mountie training centre, apparently, and quite a lot of beer. The city is huge in terms of geography (by my standards at least) but only has twice the population of Darlington, yet it’s the provincial capital! It looks pretty on Google Earth, but then, so does Borough Rd in Darlington. Ken himself even asked “why would you want to come to Regina?” I also have concerns about why there were so few Canadian applicants for this job. Do they know something I don’t? Or perhaps the people of Saskatchewan have even less interest in coffee than people in Darlo?

Jo and I had to have another Inevitable Conversation: what happens to Doctor Coffee’s if I do take the job? I feel utterly awful about abandoning Jo – either to take the whole thing on, on her own, (which she wants to but it will be so much work that she didn’t sign up for!) or, to sell the lease and have to give up on all her own plans for the place. I’ve also put heart and soul in to it, and I’m not entirely sure I want to jack it all in so soon anyway.

So, as yet, no decisions have been made, although EXCITEMENT is plentiful. I am heading out there for a week to meet Ken properly, check out the cafe and see if I could imagine myself – and Carl and Miranda – actually living in Regina. I will have to make a decision from there. Still, plenty of time to blog, so expect updates, dear readers!

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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


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