I was introduced to Sue and Chris Martin’s loft and rooftop deck when they graciously opened their home for the Christmas tour in 2009. As impressed as I was then, I was even more so after I had a chance to talk to Sue and hear the story of their journey from a dream to reality.
The Martins coupled their long time passion for renovating and redecorating with their wish to open their own business, and in 2010, The Grind Café, located at 35 Second Street East, was ready to welcome its first customers.
The building, long known as the Fennel Building, was once a private home until the Fennel-Rudden law firm took over the building. Mr. Fennel bequeathed the building to the United Way, and for several years, it housed the Cornwall Detox Centre. Over the years, the lower level was occupied by Laing’s Travel Agency and the Honeymoon Suite Bridal Salon.
Encouraged by the energy created by the downtown revitalization project, the Martin’s purchased he property in 2008, and that’s when their dream began to take shape - a dream to not only open a business but to have their living quarters in the same building. Two years later, they opened their coffee shop and called it The Grind.
Although they had no prior business experience, Sue stated that “as long as you are open to learning, you can do it”.
The four story building was pretty much gutted, leaving very little of the original structure. They installed fire walls, new plumbing, electrical and heating equipment, windows - and the list goes on. While the lower level was used for storage, the main floor became the business, and the third and fourth floors became their living quarters. The living room, dining room, and laundry room take up one floor, along with the kitchen which is Sue’s pride and joy. The master suite, complete with walk-in closet, two bedrooms, office and bathroom are on the top level. The family room at the back of the living area leads out to a roof top 1100 square foot deck - their ‘green space’ - and it comes complete with hot tub, fireplace and a 10x12 shed.
Sue feels they have the best of all worlds, living and working in the centre of the downtown core. They have two children, Kayla, who works with her mother in the restaurant, and Kyle, who is still in school.
The Grind offers a healthy selection of soups, salads, wraps etc., with everything made on site.
Sue has obviously learned the business well. In my time, with her, she greeted everyone who came in for their favourite cup of coffee, most of whom she knew by first name.