New Boyle Street Café Filling a Gap in the Neighbourhood
Felice is a happy place with a focus on community.
Felice translates from Italian as “happy,” and the owners of this new café in Stadium Yards have definitely chosen the right name.
Michelle and Tim Brouwer’s business at 10930 84th Street is making a major contribution to the Boyle Street community and beyond. It offers craft coffee and other beverages, snacks, and a small marketplace – all sourced from approximately 30 local companies and individuals. It has presented several live shows featuring regional musicians, and has plans for more in the future.
“When you support a local business, you support people who are your neighbours,” Michelle Brouwer says. “We have each other’s backs.”
Brouwer, who was a lab technician for 12 years, comes from a family of entrepreneurs operating small local businesses in the Edmonton area. She and her husband decided the time was right to join the business world, and started planning in January of 2021. They opened the café in April of 2022.
“Business was always in the back of my mind,” Brouwer says. “Then the pandemic forced me to re-evaluate and think about my passions, which include live music and food. I see owning and operating a business as a lifestyle (being your own boss) and a way of building the community.
The café’s customers include students from Norquest, MacEwan, NAIT, and U of A, who can easily drop in via the nearby Stadium LRT station. The café welcomes them and offers a place where they can work on their laptops and read.
The owners are responsive to customer feedback. For example, they lowered prices when they realized that many local residents – and many students – have low incomes. They also listened when customers asked for more savoury food options and upgrades to the Wi-Fi.
Brouwer notes that visitors from other cities and provinces “are finding us and coming for the Edmonton experience.”
The concerts have worked out really well too. Tickets were sold out for local artist Ellie Heath’s concert on November 26th. And, Felice gives the artists 100% of ticket sales, 100% of merch sales, and 5% of the revenue generated. “I didn’t know that this was not common practice,” Brouwer says, laughing.
The café hosted a plant market in October, with 800 people coming through the door. Plans are underway for a vintage market offered by local vendors.
Brouwer notes that a big component of Felice’s success is the staff. There is an 86 percent retention rate. “Staff have had a direct impact in shaping Felice into what it is today.”
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.
Coffee shop at last
_My husband and I moved from the Highlands to an apartment on Jasper Avenue in 2013. We moved for disability access but gradually discovered how much our new Boyle Street community had to offer. Little Italy and Chinatown are unique, special, and filled with treasures. The built heritage of this area – the oldest part of Edmonton – is of great interest to me (Alex Taylor School, the Brighton Block, the Hecla Block, and more). Being able to look out my window at diners on the patio of Panini’s restaurant makes me feel very cosmopolitan. But until now one thing was sorely missing – a coffee shop! Felice has filled that gap and is doing so far beyond what I could have hoped for. – AJ_