RIVERVIEW – Buddha Bear Café’s Riverview location won’t be a usual brick-and-mortar space. It’s a 10-by-20-foot shipping container outfitted with air conditioning, plumbing, and insulation for the winter.
Located in the parking lot of the Chocolate River Station, the container overlooks the Petitcodiac River from the side of the walking trail. There are no seats or tables, just a large window for customers to make their orders.
“[The shipping container] is kind of an interesting way to grab what you need without a lot of frills,” said P.E.I . native Jeff Grandy, who owns the business with his younger brother Peter.
“We’ll be offering coffee and beer. We’re not solving any other problems, you know? It’s a simple idea, and we’re a simple company. Simple owners.”
The brothers also plan to serve a simple, locally-inspired menu. They’re still working to obtain the alcohol license.
With the café set to open in January, Jeff Grandy said he’s prepared for business to be slow in the beginning.
“With coffee…it’s not all of a sudden going to be your coffee place, you know?” he said. “Coffee is an everyday thing, so it takes a little bit of time to kind of get into people’s routines.”
But it could quickly grow in popularity considering the success of their café in Alma, which is also located in an unconventional space. The Buddha Bear Café and Holy Whale Brewery is located in a converted church. Although they didn’t choose the location solely because it was a church, it became a point of attraction. “People are interested in the history,” Jeff said.
Riverview’s Department of Economic Development proposed the concept of a shipping container café, inspired by Toronto’s Market 707. There, a community of shipping-container businesses sell street food and other goods.
The container café is part of Riverview’s plan to beautify the riverfront area. The town received a $150,000 grant through a provincial municipal development program to commemorate Canada 150.
The money paid for electrical infrastructure along the riverfront trail; amenities such as benches, accessible dual binoculars and bike racks; artistic and cultural interpretive structures; a mural and historical interpretive signage; and the opening of the shipping container cafe.
The Grandys won a competitive bidding process that included 14 applicants.
On November 22, the night of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting, the town invited residents to meet the Grandys and have some Buddha Bear coffee, hot chocolate and sweets.
“The town would like to see more entrepreneurs launch and build innovative business concepts in Riverview,” said town spokesperson Micha Fardy said in a Facebook note to Huddle. “Hopefully this project helps encourage entrepreneurs to take that next step.”