allsaints event space - Leanne Moussa
allsaints event space is housed in All Saints Anglican Church which was built in 1899 and has quite a bit of history. Tell us a little bit about why the history of the building is important to allsaints?
From the get go we have been an open and inclusive space. We always delight in sharing the rich history of the building. It was built by Sir Henry Newell Bate, the first chairman of what was then the National Capital Commission. Borden Hall our main space, features a number of stain-glass windows with historical significance: one was dedicated to Prime Minister Robert Borden and another commemorates a fallen soldier from the first World War. It also hosted Canada’s only Royal Wedding in 1924, and still has a rare nine-bell chime in the tower. Until recently Lower Hall (otherwise known as Working Title Kitchen and Café) was home to Bettye Hyde Daycare, Ottawa's oldest co-operative childcare centre, where all four of my children spent their early years. Many people we've met over the years attended church, got married, and celebrated all sorts of occasions here, and it was important for us to continue the tradition of having this building serve as a space of celebration and community.
As a business allsaints has unique community-driven model that maintains the heritage. Can you tell us a little about how this works and why investors joined the project?
The investors group is 50% community members and 50% business investors. The first group is made up of people who don’t normally invest in real estate but were compelled to help re-purpose an important building and shape development in Ottawa. The second is Real estate investors from Alberta - primarily my family - who also see the importance of heritage preservation. Decisions require 65% approval, so it means the community members have a huge amount of say in major decisions.
You have a number of spaces in the facility for everything from weddings and galas to meeting rooms and dance classes. How does this all come together in one facility?
People are amazed that we manage to do so much in one building! Most people agree that the variety of things going on in the space give it life.
Having done this for a few years, we have a few tricks up our sleeve for managing several events simultaneously. It helps that this is a large building with a variety of spaces, each with its own perks and quirks, and we always consider how having an event in one space may affect an event in a different space before booking them together.
Working Title Kitchen + Cafe rests on the lower level and has a brand new terrace. What does this bring to the Sandy Hill community?
The opening of the Terrace this past summer has been amazing. Now the Sandy Hill community really knows we're here! Our neighbours have always been very supportive, but over the summer they brought their friends and family on a regular basis to spend time on the Terrace for a coffee, brunch, dinner and drinks, and for ice cream. Just because it's a lovely place to spend time. Some people bring a newspaper in the morning, as though the Terrace were an extension of their home. We see many opportunities for intergenerational connections here, so that everyone - regardless of their age, background, or home life - can find community.
We will keep our Terrace open as long as weather permits but as Fall arrives we will expand our operations inside to resemble the feel we established with the Terrace. We are hoping that people will continue to drop by our coffee shop everyday from 8am - 4pm, our restaurant for drinks, dinner, dessert and sharing plates in the evening Monday - Friday from 4pm - 10pm, or for Sunday Brunch from 10am - 3pm.
If someone is visiting Working Title for the first time what must they order?
That all depends on when you visit. Any of our yummy baked treats are a hit and all baked in-house - in particular our oatmeal butterscotch cookie is to die for!
Our Executive Chef Jef Charlebois' Daily Mixed Grill is always the right combination of delicious and will continue on our indoor menu … and we are looking forward to adding the Louisiana Seafood Boil among other great sharing plates when we launch the fall menu in October.
If you are coming for Sunday brunch the smoked salmon on polenta with poached egg is my absolute favourite brunch item, but we also have a new savoury vegan option created by Chef Nena Ngo that is exceptional.
Best of all, we have a new selection grab-and-go food and take-home-meals if you are looking to just pop in and get something nutritious, delicious and house-made on your way to or from school or work.
Much of the food you serve comes from local farms. What other food businesses in Ottawa are featured at Working Title and allsaints?
It's really important for us to serve dishes with sustainably-sourced ingredients and to work with local producers whenever possible. Some of our favourites include Fluid Coffee, Dominion City Brewing Co., Seed to Sausage, Merry Dairy Ice Cream and Marley's ferments that are fermented in-house!
With such a large facility and so many events how do you balance work and family?
Being able to live, work and play in the same walkable community is good urban planning and a big part of my motivation for creating the allsaints project. That said, four kids is definitely busy! My husband Masood is a very supportive partner, fully-engaged with the kids, and an active participant in our business. I couldn’t do it any other way.
What is your dream for the future of allsaints?
I believe allsaints can become an important part of people’s experience when they visit Ottawa as tourists. A community space with a national appeal. With Parks Canada owning Laurier House across the street, NGOs including Amnesty, CODE, Wateraid, Inter Pares and more, we have an opportunity to create interesting programming that is current and informs how we want to move forward as a people. The next stage of this project is to develop more activities and events that appeal to neighbours and tourists alike … that they can enjoy over their favourite cocktail or sharing plate, of course.