deVille Luxury Coffee and Pastries
– Owners: Paul Brassard and Mark Nolan
– Established: May 2008
– Locations: Art Central and Fashion Central in the downtown
– Employees: About 20
– Description: Luxury coffee and pastries, licensed for beer and wine, sandwiches
CALGARY – A few years ago, the idea to set up a cafe came to Paul Brassard while drinking a fine cup of coffee.
He had completed his commerce degree in Victoria and was visiting a friend in Vancouver. They were having coffee at Caffe Artigiano. His first visit there. And the coffee establishment was using Intelligentsia black cat, a fresh roasted bean.
“I thought it was the best coffee I’d ever had. Just decided it was time to get back into the food business instead of doing the suit and tie thing. And that’s when I recruited Mark (Nolan) and said, ‘Hey do you want to do this thing with me?’,” says Brassard.
“This thing” turned out to be deVille Luxury Coffee and Pastries with two establishments in the downtown, at Fashion Central and Art Central.
The two of them had been in the restaurant industry together. Brassard was working in downtown Calgary in information technology.
“I decided I really wanted to get back into food, but food my way. So we really wanted to do this coffee concept,” says Brassard.
“Everything that we do is either artisan or boutique in some sense of the word. Everything is handmade and a lot of thought put into it. Everything has been touched by us or decided upon by us.”
The Art Central location opened two years ago in May. They opened a second location last June at 1302 1st St. S.W. in a highrise residential condo tower, but there’s new ownership there now. Brassard and Nolan opened another location in Fashion Central in February.
The two locations they own operate out of about 1,200 square feet each with about 20 employees in the two locations.
They use only Intelligentsia beans from a Chicago company Brassard describes as the “godfathers of boutique roasting.”
The deVille cafe sells those beans at its two locations. They also have pastries, sandwiches, soup, quiche, wine, cheese and beer. All the food is made from scratch.
The two locations each seat about 60 but there is capacity to expand for private events due to the adjacent common areas.
“Paul and I were both in the service industry. That’s where we met — 11, 12 years ago,” says Nolan. “And customer service is something that we’ve been passionate about forever. So when Paul brought the idea to me to do this, it seemed it was the next step to do our own thing. I’m very happy with where we’re going.”
“Since the first day we opened the doors we were both kind of anticipating that people would just be lined up the door and it would be fantastic and we’d be throwing money at each other,” Brassard says laughing, as he sips one of the cafe’s specialties.
“But it turns out the first month we were open we were doing probably about $400 a day which is a great way to go bankrupt really quick. So since then we’ve more than tripled those sales numbers and we’re still by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods, but we have a very loyal following of people who come to our cafe (and) are vigilant about coming to our cafe. We see a positive growth trend for sure.”
Fashion Central at the heart of the downtown and Art Central is across the street where the majestic Bow tower is being constructed.
“Location for any small business is so important. Traffic is important,” says Nolan. “It took a long time to find a location that was not scary at first. . . . Downtown was very important for us. The towers and the density.”