Café Latte Cino - Susan & Sam
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an Ottawa girl. I grew up in Alta Vista, lived in the same house with my family my whole life until I was married. I grew up in a family with entrepreneurs as parents. They owned their own business for over 32 years downtown on Bank St. They worked super long hours but my sister, my brother and I tried to help out as much as we could. It was a family business. It was our second home. It was pretty cool though as I had an awesome opportunity to live two different lifestyles; one of the suburbs and one of the downtown city life. I must say I liked going home at night and leaving all the crazy stuff downtown at night. My husband Sam was born in Lebanon. We came from two completely different worlds. He and his family came when he was a teenager. He went to college here and starting working in his families’ business as well. Both of us are surrounded by huge families. We love it. There is always something going on. I have to say though that neither my university education nor his college one were gearing us towards running our own business. The Cafe life happened all on its own. We have three children; Alexa almost 20, Jason who is 17 and Lilia at 13. They spend tons of time helping us run the Cafe. They’ve been involved since day 1. Deep down I think they know the Cafe is as much theirs as it is ours. They’ve all learned so much in the last 6 years and they sure do know what benefits can come from hard work. We have tons of fun at the Cafe. I always say, it makes a huge difference when you love what you do.
You purchased Café Latte Cino from a previous owner as an existing business. What was it about the café that you loved so much?
The Cafe has a great feel to it. It’s very comfortable. Even if its your first time visiting you get a sense that you can just kick back and relax. Enjoy the food and drink and easily make some friends with the ones sitting at the table next to you. The people are everything. As long as we keep them happy all will be good. Our Cafe is our living vision;Inspired by You!
Was there a vision you had for the restaurant?
From the very first time we visited the Cafe years ago we knew it had great potential. Personally, I knew we would be able to take it all to another level with our skills and our creativity. I’ve always told my kids that by the time they were old enough they each would be running their own Cafe Latte Cino’s. Our oldest daughter Alexa already has her eyes open and searching for our next location. We’re good with what we’ve got going on for now BUT when the time is right you may just see us popping up in a neighbourhood near you.
You seem to have an endless selection of food, sweets, coffee, tea and confectionery items while also providing a calm and warm atmosphere. Tell us a little about the food and drink you serve?
There’s a little something for everyone at the Cafe. Breakfast and brunch are fun. We go a little later on the weekends with our breakfast. Waffles and crepes are such crowd pleasers. You should see the smiles on people’s faces as we walk to the table holding their waffles. Priceless! I wish I could snap a pic sometimes. Our juices and smoothies are made fresh as are our salads and sandwiches. I wish we could say that we bake all our desserts in house but I can’t do it with a straight face. Unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day so we leave that to the pros. Hands down we have one of the best dessert showcases in the city (if not THE best). Some evenings when I’m hanging out there I’m still amazed that almost every customer that walks through the doors is there for a slice of dessert. Quality and freshness are what help us to stand apart. We always offer only the best we can. Always looking for ways to improve or better our menus. Our wine and alcohol menu are simple but most of the time thats exactly what are clients are looking for. A beautiful glass of red wine and a slice of decadent, dark chocolate cake. What more could you ask for?
How has Orleans been as a community and a place to run a business?
Orleans is incredible! We moved to Orleans about 16 years ago from the south end. At that time there really wasn’t much happening out here. Nowadays, every way you turn there is new development and a growing population. So many young families and so many older, wonderful people. Somehow we have that small town feel. Its all about community and family. Supporting local is so near to people’s hearts and we surely feel it.
You seem to have a close knit customer base and even offer in-store advertising for them. How is supporting your community important to your business?
We are very close to our customers. We see many of them daily and sometimes more than once a day. Its our Cafe family! Its amazing to watch all the people connect. Many have become friends and some have become more than just friends. We watch young couples grow into families with babies. Babies grow up right in front of our eyes. We are very fortunate in a sense that our business is growing. We are welcoming new customers every single day. Whether they’ve heard about us from a friend, seen us on social media or just happen to come upon us while driving we are happy to have them. When people finally walk through our door for the first time and are blown away with what they’ve just discovered its a great feeling. You know you’ve done something right.
When you aren’t busy running the restaurant what do you do for fun?
We used to go out a lot. We would head out with the kids and scope out the coolest restaurants or ice cream shops. We loved to travel when we could. We were always visiting family, heading to a birthday party or family function etc…Nowadays the kids are older so its a bit harder to coordinate schedules but we still try. If we can make it work we still try out all the new restaurants, ice cream shops and local cafes. Its funny cause each one of us seems to always order the same thing when we are exploring cafes. There is a pattern. Sam and I have started travelling a bit more on our own as the kids have gotten older. I certainly have my bucket list of places to visit. All in good time though, no need to rush.
Are there been any businesses in Orleans that you partner with or have helped you with your venture?
We have teamed up with so many wonderful businesses over the years. As part of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce we’ve met so many great professionals and fellow entrepreneurs. They’ve all been amazing. The community and the businesses surrounding us are all generous and supportive. We are thankful for that.
If Justin Trudeau walked into Café Latte Cino, what would you recommend he order for lunch?
Justin Trudeau, oh boy! I think I’d offer him a great coffee to start off with as he’s gonna have quite the crowd to deal with if he comes into our cafe. I would definitely recommend one of our paninis (my favourite is the chipotle chicken with bacon and mayo) on a fresh multigrain panini with a bowl of one of our soups that Sam makes from scratch every day. I’m pretty sure that would hit the spot pretty well. Without even asking I’d bring over a slice of our homemade coconut cream pie and I’d also bring a slice of our most decadent chocolate cake for whoever is joining him. I have a feeling he’d dive into both.
As a business owner what keeps you awake at night?
Oh my! Some nights I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Other nights, my eyes pop wide open at 2 or 3am because ideas keep coming to me. Like I mentioned earlier the Cafe has so much potential. So many possibilities. I don’t think of anything negative at night only good stuff. Usually ways to make things better!
Do you have any exciting new products or upcoming events for 2018?
For 2018 our biggest accomplishment was launching our brand new website. Its been a long time coming and we’re so happy about it. The next big step is getting all the fine details in our “shop” all finalized. People can enjoy the convenience of ordering their fresh roasted coffee, teas and so much more and have them delivered to their door or to a friends as a gift. Just a couple more small details and it will be fully functional for the holidays. You can check it out at www.cafelattecino.com/shop/