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Take a Peek Behind Novella Coffee Bar’s Papered-Up Windows, Ahead of Opening Day

Front Row: L-R: Ash Kurtz, Amanda Work, Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson Back Row: House of Funk founder Darren Hollettat, Novella Cafe Manager Adam Gold, Co-owner Cody Allmin

The team behind critically-acclaimed Published On Main and Bar Susu are closing in on opening day for their third concept. Mount Pleasant’s newest cafe, Novella Coffee Bar, will be ready to open doors at 2650 Main Street very soon.

If this is the first you’re hearing of this project, here is some background from our December 2021 story:

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).

On my tour of the space last week, the project looked to be 90% complete and perfectly aligned with the vision described above. Although the colours in the photographs below are muted by still-papered-up windows, it is evident that the lighter and brighter little sister to Published and Bar Susu shares their DNA. The cascading levels, elegant curves, simple lines and crisp colours – plus the prominently hung Wild Bunch dried flower installation – make this 66-seat space a stunner. I’m excited to see Novella when it’s finally filled with natural light.

Ingredients sourced from small and local farms, plus the creative energy and culinary talent of Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson (Published) and Ash Kurtz (Bar Susu), means that the food program will also feel familiar, if slightly more casual. To complement what Stieffenhofer-Brandson and Kurtz develop, diners can expect coffee from House of Funk small batch coffee roastery, pastries by sugar wizard Aaron Surman (ButterBoom), and a wine program brought to life by sommelier Jayton Paul.

From Novella: “Highlights include a Novella Yogurt with seabuckthorn, yogurt mousse, seabuck berries, and a hemp/flax heart praline; Turbo Breakfast Sando with fried egg, sausage patty, hash brown patty, smoked cheddar, and custom “turbo” sauce on a potato bun; savoury Steel Cut Oats with wild and cultivated mushrooms, poached egg, and mustard greens; and Pickled Beets with meadowsweet tahini dressing, green apple, watercress, and candied sunflower seeds. All bread is baked in-house by Ward Van Donselaar,”

The final piece of the Novella experience will be a ‘micro-grocery’, where guests will have retail access to grab-and-go goods including coffee, housemade preserves and bread, alongside a curated selection of ‘beloved community brands’. Although their grocery shelves are already built, they will not be fully stocked right away (it has been hinted at that they will not be bare by the time the holidays roll around, though).

At launch, Novella will be open Monday to Friday, from 7:30am to 2:30pm. The team plans to expand into evening service at some point in the new year. Keep an eye on Novella’s Instagram feed here for an opening day announcement. For now, take a look inside:

Neighbourhood: Main Street
2650 Main St.

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