Friends partner in business venture despite coronavirus handicap
Two friends have taken the plunge and opened a new cafe in Sault Ste. Marie’s north end despite today’s tough business environment that’s due to the pandemic.
Mana Goodfellow and Katrina Holkko jointly opened the Soup Witch on Monday this week, fulfilling a long-time goal.
“We had casually talked about opening a business together for years in one capacity or another,” Goodfellow told Sault This Week.
“When we talked about going into business together we always would come back to what fun it would be to combine our experience and create our own cafe with an emphasis on great food with great coffee and the ability to utilize some of our wonderful local businesses while doing so.”
Goodfellow has worked as a cook and chef for 20 years, while Holkko brings management and business experience to the venture. Both have owned their own businesses in the past, but this is the first time they’ve come together to open one.
The “Soup Witch” name is not only a play on the common “soup and sandwich” pairing, it’s also a reference to what Goodfellow thinks of when making a pot of soup.
“Making soup (my favourite thing to cook) has always felt like brewing up a potion,” said Goodfellow. “The act of combining ingredients into a big stock pot and stirring it all together to create something magical made me feel like the Soup Witch!”
The cafe’s menu features classic cafe food, but with the women’s personal twist, like the “Rudy Reuben,” “BLTease,” and their grilled cheese sandwiches. They also wanted to pay homage to Frank’s Place, which had operated in their location for many years, by putting The Denver on the menu.
The Soup Witch has partnered with other local businesses to source the ingredients used, such as Home B&B and Superior Bakery for bread, St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters for coffee, and Lock City Dairy for dairy products.
They have ensured that vegetarians, vegans, and those on a gluten-free diet will have choices as well.
“Making great food accessible is a real point of pride for us,” said Goodfellow. “We’re excited to be able to create a space that people feel comfortable in, can eat good food, get a great cup of coffee or enjoy a latte in this part of town. We’re looking forward to building a community hub and excited to meet our neighbours and make some new friendships.”
The new cafe is at 215 Fourth Line E., at the intersection of Old Goulais Bay Road, in the old Frank’s Place.
Although many new businesses are opening up downtown, Goodfellow and Holkko wanted a location that didn’t yet have a neighbourhood cafe. “When we saw this place was available we fell in love with it and snapped it up right away,” said Goodfellow.
“This building has always been a great lunch spot as far back as Frank’s Place, and with a four-corner stop just outside plus a bus stop steps away, it’s a very busy location. We’re hopeful to settle in nicely and become the neighbourhood’s local cafe spot for anyone wanting to come enjoy a latte or pop in for a lunch.”
The ongoing pandemic has changed how they are opening to start, opting not to offer indoor dining due to the small size of the café, Goodfellow said. Instead, they have set up picnic tables outside, and offer takeout and citywide delivery, as well as some grab-and-go items such as pre-made wrapped sandwiches.
The cafe will be open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to start, though the pair hopes to extend their hours, and add to their team, as they settle in.
Since beginning their journey toward opening, the partners have received “amazing support” from not only their family and friends, but the community at large, Goodfellow said.
“It’s honestly been really humbling. The Sault has such a love affair with food and the rally around small, independently-run food businesses has always been so impressive.”
Some of the most helpful support they’ve received has come from other local business owners, such as Angela at the Breakfast Pig, Jill and Liam from Home B&B, Ashleigh at Shabby Motley, Shane and Heather at St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters, and Amanda at Big Lake Cabin, she said.
These entrepreneurs have given Goodfellow and Holkko “offers of support, help with equipment, just great advice, and general love and well wishes.”
The Soup Witch can be found on Facebook and Instagram under the handle @TheSoupWitchCafe, but Goodfellow hopes to see everyone in person at their new cafe soon.