Lara Cusson had been thinking about opening her own cafe for six years before becoming the owner and operator of Cafe Lara two months ago.
“I realized that you can do a lot with a coffee shop,” she said. “You can build a community, you can make someone’s day with a simple interaction.”
Cusson is this week’s midweek mugging recipient.
Located at 2347 Agricola St., the cafe offers meals and pastries made in-house, along with bread, croissants and a few other items from LF Bakery.
“We do have some decadent items, but we try to keep in mind gluten-free and vegan without compromising quality,” she said.
Cusson said she wanted to give locals a place to pick up food while on the run, without sacrificing health.
“I found it hard to find grab-and-go places for lunch here where it’s not just a burger,” she said. “So we’re kind of an in-between, where you can get a healthier sandwich and salad to go.”
Cusson, who worked in the service industry in the past, describes herself as having a passion for coffee. At Cafe Lara, she serves an Italian blend that’s, “slow roasted, dark, has a lot of caramel notes to it,” she said.
Along with coffee, the cafe also serves alcohol. It is open until 11 p.m.
“I think that people default to going to have nowhere to go at that time,” Cusson said. “People still need to study, and people still want to meet up for coffee or a late night tea...or hot chocolate, or glass of wine.”
Cusson said she sees a variety of different customers, and enjoys being part of north end neighbourhood.
“I love the north end, I am so happy to be a part of the north end community,” she said. “I was going by the spot everyday saying, ‘I have to get in there, it could change the whole street.’ I feel like we’re the gates of Agricola, right at the entrance.”
The cafe is available for private functions and also hosts community events, such as art shows and crib game nights. Cusson said she has plans for speed dating on Valentine’s Day.
“We’re not trying to be anything but ourselves,” Cusson said. “We’re just open to having all ages, all types of people here, and I think that’s the nice thing about coffee—it attracts people from all walks of life.”