CORNWALL, Ontario – Denis Sabourin knew he had struck pay dirt when he had to grab a mop and starting cleaning the floors.
The Cornwall native and co-owner of Origin Trade, a coffee shop/lounge in downtown Ottawa, was forced to become the jack-of-all-trades on a particularly busy night because he will tell you: “I’m not a barista or a bartender. I’m better off cleaning the floors.”
Or, it seems, a myriad of other ventures.
Sabourin, who graduated from Ecole Secondaire La Citadelle in the 1990s, has an impressive resume that includes ownership of Xactly Design – and Ottawa-based ad agency – as well as a stake in a now defunct National Basketball League of Canada franchise based in Ottawa.
You can add coffee lounge owner to the mix now, too.
“To be honest, it’s a lot of work,” he said. “Most of my past companies have been in media. This is definitely more retail. It’s been exciting and fun, you have that whole social aspect that you don’t have with the agency.”
And he’s been able to rub shoulders with some high-profile clients. Actor Dan Aykroyd, comedian Tom Green and even Mayor Jim Watson have made appearances at Origin Trade.
The idea behind the coffee lounge came to Sabourin following a short stay in New York City when he lived in the East Village of Manhattan for a few months.
“One of the first weeks I was there, I passed by the coffee shop I was going to and it was 9-10 at night and it was bustling,” he said. “The barista told me: ‘At night we turn into a lounge and they bring in beer and wine.’
“I said that’s kinda smart.”
He and business partner Dan Cummins have created something similar in the nation’s capital.
“We’re a coffee house during the day but at night we’re a lounge. We also host special events,” said Sabourin.
One of those special events, expected to take place in the weeks ahead, is a “pop-up kitchen” hosted by Top Chef Canada’s Rene Rodriguez.
“We’ve only been open two months and we’re already really busy,” said Sabourin. “How to get ourselves out there wasn’t a problem…now we have to run this place.
“I remember our first busiest night…I’ve never worked as a busboy. I was running glasses back and forth and mopping floors and cleaning toilets.”
If the past is any indication, it could lead to a new business venture…Sabourin Cleaning Supplies, maybe?