Two months after opening its doors to the public at Lansdowne Park, aroma espresso bar, the popular Israeli café chain, hosted a grand opening celebration, April 17, for its first Ottawa location.
More than 1,000 people attended the daylong festivities, which included live entertainment, promotions, contests and a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by Deputy Head of Mission Shlomit Sufa of the Embassy of Israel in Ottawa.
“Israel is a multicultural country where east meets west and the sounds, sights and savours of the world come together,” said Sufa. “With a diverse menu that includes items such as bourekas from Turkey and shakshouka from Morocco, aroma exemplifies the eclectic flavours of Israel. It is a pleasure to welcome aroma to Canada’s national capital, and I hope the people of Canada, one of the world’s most multicultural societies, will enjoy a little taste of Israel’s diversity.”
Considered the Starbucks or Tim Hortons of Israel, aroma was founded in 1994. In addition to Israel, the chain now has more than 165 locations around the world. The first Canadian location opened in Toronto in 2007.
The Lansdowne franchise is being run by Alasdair Grant, 32. He describes aroma as distinctive because it combines a health-focused menu with excellent coffee.
“The best coffee shops don’t have good food and the best cafés don’t have good coffee,” said Grant. “aroma offers both. Our food is fresh, simple, affordable, delicious, locally sourced and made to order. Our coffee, roasted in Israel, is better than what you will find anywhere else.”
aroma’s Canadian origins stem from a homesick Israeli studying at the University of Toronto. Anat Davidzon missed the coffeehouses she frequented at home and approached aroma’s Israeli owners about expanding into Canada.
From the outset, aroma has incorporated social responsibility as one of its fundamental corporate values. In addition to employing workers with special needs, it supports local charities, non-profit organizations and community events, and actively solicits requests for sponsorships or donations by providing application forms on its web site.
Grant said almost three years of planning went into opening the Lansdowne Park location, but it was more than worth it. Ottawans have embraced the bright and airy espresso bar, with its lively modern décor, high ceilings, cozy red chairs and nutritious food.
“Ottawa is a health-conscious city, and we are a health-focused restaurant committed to fresh, wholesome ingredients, quality coffee and great service,” said Grant. “I am proud to be part of the Ottawa community, especially here at Lansdowne Park.”
Grant plans an outdoor patio that will take advantage of the café’s prime corner location. It will undoubtedly become a popular people-watching spot on summer days. A liquor licence is also on Grant’s to-do list.