The team behind the critically-acclaimed Published On Main begin work on a second Mount Pleasant restaurant.
‘Novella Coffee Bar’ – a cafe, breakfast spot, and neighbourhood grocery – is slated to open its doors at 2650 Main St. (this is the same block as Tocador and The Cascade) in early 2022.
Last week, co-owners Cody and Clay Allmin, chef Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson, chef Ash Kurtz, and assistant manager Brittany Hoorne (all pictured above) were kind enough to show me around the site of their new project.
These are early days, but the mission of transforming the space into a fresh concept for the neighbourhood is well underway: all evidence of Novella’s predecessor, a Filipino restaurant called Josephine’s, is already gone. What I saw on my tour was a 3200 sqft blank canvas.
Cody walked me through the vision: from the street, visitors will enter into a 66-seat dining area, including table, banquette, and bar seating on the main floor, and couch seating on an elevated platform perched along the north wall. The latter will be comfortable and lounge-like, “somewhere you’d want to go and hang out, read a book or visit with friends”. The anchor of the room will be a coffee bar and service counter (where customers can get their take-out coffee and baked goods) located toward the rear of the main floor. To the right, a second elevated seating area will connect to an adjoining 350 sqft grocery and retail space. To fill the shelves, the crew has honed in on some familiar and much loved local brands, as well as produce grown by local farmers. As it was described to me, Novella sounded like one large space comprised of a variety of smaller spaces, each of which, though physically and aesthetically related, are intentionally designed to offer their own unique experience.
Ensuring the connection and flow between spaces will be key. To make sure that happens, Establishment Interiors has been brought on board to steer the aesthetic direction of the space. I’m told that the vision is one of clean lines and archways at every opportunity, with a colour pallet that will work with the natural light in the space (bright colours at the front of the room that fade into a darker tones as you move to the back).
Co-owner Cody Allmin explains where the idea for Novella came from:
“When we were first building Published, we had intentions of opening up a seven-days-a-week lunch/brunch program in the same space called “Novella”. That program would then be a condensed menu or “short story” version of our main dining program. Then the pandemic hit, and we ended up scrapping the idea. However, we still loved the concept and it hung around in the back of our minds for the last couple years, until the opportunity presented itself in the same neighbourhood as Published. Our new “Novella” doesn’t stray too far from the original intention; we want to a present a thoughtful, ingredient-focused menu that highlights supporting local farmers and foragers, following on the same ethos as Published. The only major edit is we are now including a coffee program to help build a community through creativity and collaboration.
The food program will be led by Published on Main’s executive chef Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson and Novella’s incoming chef Ash Kurtz (Kurtz comes to Novella after many years in St. Lawrence’s award-winning kitchen). The menu is still very much in development, but I’m told it will feature a mix of house-made breads and pastries, augmented by a selection of Butterboom baked goods, as well as more substantial meals (breakfast and lunch).
Though the emphasis was definitely on baking, coffee and breakfast food when I met with the team last week, the conversation also seemed to leave a door open for the possibility of evening service in the future. The sheer square footage of the space, combined with the pedigree of the culinary team, suggests that the ‘possibility’ is more likely an ‘inevitability’ – but I’m in no rush. For now, I’m looking forward to seeing what this team will bring to their neighbourhood cafe and grocery concept in Mount Pleasant.
Novella aims to open in early 2022. Stay tuned for details. Take a look at the bones of the project below…