Hey, folks! I'm Robert
and I’m the guy behind Empire Cafe. Today, I want to let you in on how this whole cafe gig of mine came to be. Buckle up because it’s a rollercoaster ride.
I’ve pretty much been in the restaurant scene my whole life, doing everything from washing dishes to waiting tables. But here’s the kicker: I was supposed to be some big-shot football player at Syracuse University. Yeah, I had it all planned out until an injury blindsided me. So, instead of tackling the gridiron, I ended up studying Construction Engineering at George Brown College, thinking I’d become an architect.
Life, though, has a funny way of tossing curveballs. I found myself working part-time at a restaurant/bar, and three months in, it hit me like a ton of bricks: the restaurant biz was where I belonged. My personality just clicked, and suddenly, it felt like I’d been doing it my whole life.
After picking up a boatload of street smarts from the characters I met in the industry, I had an epiphany. Something needed to change as the lifestyle was one that could easily land one in trouble. I decided to take a two-month retreat, and when I came back, my inner entrepreneur was wide awake. I made a short-list of what I wanted to do and accomplish, and it all pointed to the hospitality industry.
Picture this: a place where you can chow down on gourmet food without the whole restaurant ordeal. You know, like the cozy joints you find in Montreal. Grab a plate of pasta, a sandwich, and cap it off with a killer dessert. But here’s the twist – I decided to dive headfirst into coffee roasting. After a month in Montreal of getting my hands dirty and learning about roasting, I brewed up a coffee blend that was smoother than silk sheets and sweeter than a summer breeze. We proudly serve that patented blend right here at Empire Cafe.
We decided to open our doors right smack in the middle of a pandemic, and let me tell you, it was like trying to dance through a minefield. But you know what they say about silver linings? Two days after we opened, I met someone special, and sparks flew. Her friends practically moved into the cafe during lockdown, and we turned the place into a hangout spot, complete with card games and shenanigans.
But life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. My sweetheart fell ill with a rare form of cancer and passed away in the blink of an eye. It hit me like a freight train, and I knew I had to make some changes. After spending so much time at that spot together it was too hard to continue opening the doors, too many memories. That’s when I decided to close shop at that location and take some time to heal.
After some soul-searching, I got the itch to open a smaller, more manageable joint. Something to keep me busy and help clear my head. Lo and behold, in January, I stumbled upon the perfect spot, and Empire Cafe was back in business.
So, if you ever find yourself at Empire Cafe, don’t be a stranger. Try the gnocchi rose, cafe latte, cannoli, or our ice cream, it’s all homemade. We get our coffee and smoked meat straight from Montreal, so you’re getting the real deal. It’s a laid-back place where people can hang out, chat, and make connections. It’s not just a business; it’s my journey, my love for hospitality, and a place where everyone’s welcome.
Thanks for being part of the story, folks. Empire Cafe wouldn’t be the same without you.