Before today’s vibrant grocery-anchored shopping destination with a variety of notable retailers, Loblaws Plaza in Ottawa had a limited number of retail tenants. Before FCR took ownership, there was one primary reason community members would commute to the intersection of Baseline Road and Merivale Road: to dance. This ritual continues today, thanks to the Greta Leeming Studio of Dance (GLS), a world-renowned institution that has been serving the community for 61 years and counting.

Dance for Tami-Lynn, the current owner of Greta Leeming, is as essential as breathing. Her career began when she was just 4 years old, and given her family’s legacy, she might have always been destined to own her own studio.

Only, Tami-Lynn didn’t anticipate she would run a studio as established as Greta Leeming Studio of Dance.

Her mother was a dance teacher, who opened her own studio called the Bonnie Lynn Armstrong School of Dance, and later her cousin opening the Holtz Studio of Dance, where she did her training.  Tami-Lynn began  teaching when she was 14 years old and has never stopped.

At the age of 17, Tami-Lynn joined the CFL as a cheerleader for Ottawa Rough Riders and continued working in the dance community with as a teacher and choreographer with local theatre companies. When a friend recommended her to Greta Robinson to take over as a dance teacher at her studio, the rest, for Tami-Lynn, is history.

Dancing Their Way to the Top 

Greta Leeming was the place to go for ballet training in the 60s, and through the years to provide premiere dance training in a multitude of disciplines including tap, jazz, hip hop and contemporary dance. Tami-Lynn recalls that Greta was always focused on getting the best talent and staff to provide the highest quality of training to expand in each discipline and often source staff and talent internationally.

Tami-Lynn observed the studio over the years as it modernized and grew under Greta’s ownership and became a pillar of the community, where Tami-Lynn eventually took over in 2011.

She also explains that the majority of the staff that currently work at Greta Leeming in fact were Greta Leeming students, Tami-Lynn claims the staff hold themselves to a high level of excellence “(they) understand the quality of training that is expected from experience, whether you are two years old or an adult, you are going to get quality training”.

Tami-Lynn continued to evolve her dance career while working at Greta Leeming, and she supported Greta as the studio grew, which led to Greta offering her more responsibilities. Tami-Lynn eventually approached her and asked if she could take over the studio, and once Greta was ready to retire, she happily handed over the keys to the kingdom. She worked closely with Greta during this transition to ensure the studio would continue under the same principles.

“I thought about changing the name (of the studio), but there’s prestige behind the name Greta Leeming that benefits our students, dancers from Greta Leeming are recognized internationally for their talent”

  • Tami-Lynn Caloia, Owner/Director of GLS 

The GLS Community & Importance of Mentorship 

Dozens and dozens of dancers have moved on from Greta Leeming to professional jobs whether it be opening their own dance studios, to performing on Broadway, TV and movie sets. Some notable movies and shows include The Radio City Rockettes, The Music Man, Jersey Boys, and Hairspray.

Tami-Lynn believes at her core what sets this studio apart from the rest is her dedicated staff, and their expertise for each area of dance “There are no generalists here, only experts that specialize in every lane of dance.” When Tami-Lynn gained ownership there were 18 staff, and she had to immediately carry the dance studio as well as the competitive program, while learning to navigate those relationships and keep the community strong around her.

Tami-Lynn summarizes the studio as providing “… quality instruction, a professional and positive atmosphere, and a place for everyone”. She recognizes that dance class teaches kids many skills other than just dancing, building on their collaboration, time management and discipline.

  • Tami-Lynn Caloia, Owner/Director of GLS 

“Kids need life skills more than anything to learn how to collaborate and build their confidence.” She notes on the mentorship her studio provides for young children, citing that Greta Leeming teaches “…life skills just as much as dance”.

Today, they host approximately 130 dance classes every week, with 500+ dancers registered. Not all these dancers are children, there are over 100 adults registered at her studio and Tami-Lynn has introduced adult intensives and bootcamps for beginners, intermediates, and advanced dancers.

“When people take on dance as adults, they have a new zest for life and expression of self. It’s amazing that we can facilitate and encourage that.”

  • Tami-Lynn Caloia, Owner/Director of GLS 

Dance is a special community outside your everyday life, and Tami-Lynn has witnessed an endless number of life-long friendships and bonds formed at Greta Leeming. If there’s one thing she can’t emphasize enough, it’s that dance can benefit everyone.

“The biggest misconception is when people say they are not good enough to dance at Greta Leeming… we’ve expanded our curriculum so there is something here for everyone.”

  • Tami-Lynn Caloia, Owner/Director of GLS 

Location and Community Is Everything  

Tami-Lynn is extremely grateful for everything First Capital has done for the surrounding neighbourhood, bringing some amazing retail tenants and neighbours.

“Since First Capital has come in, we have everything, we have Starbucks, Pet Valu, Nando’s. I worked here for 25 years with nothing… Tim Horton’s being a 20-minute walk was the closest we had, and the Loblaws.”

  • Tami-Lynn Caloia, Owner/Director of GLS 

Tami-Lynn loves the diversity of the tenants and feels that the surrounding stores give her great exposure to potential new customers and vice versa.

What’s next, you might ask? She is looking forward to evolving in the space they are currently in and expanding their classes offerings even further.

“I’d like to work with seniors next, there’s so many things I’d like to do within the perimeters of my current location. I don’t want to run the risk of losing the quality we’ve maintained all this time.”

  • Tami-Lynn Caloia, Owner/Director of GLS 

Since its inception, GLS has helped thousands of young dancers reach their full potential, with many moving on to become company dancers, entertainers, as well as dance education professionals. If you’ve always been curious to take up dancing, this might be your sign to start. For those who live in and around Ottawa, stop by Greta Leeming Studio of Dance located in Loblaws Plaza.

To learn more about the studio, head to their website linked here and follow them on Instagram linked here.

This fall Teatro Verde, Yorkville Village’s first-class florist, gift, and décor shop, celebrated their 25 year anniversary. Hitting this momentous milestone comes as no surprise as their world-renowned floral creations and show stopping retail store have attracted many loyal customers. From A-list celebrities, international aristocrats, to Toronto’s finest hotels, their extraordinary pieces have left their clients wanting more for over a quarter century. 

Taking inspiration from their travels and being immersed in various cultures around the world, their innovative and trend-setting approach to their practice has kept them ten steps ahead in the floral industry. Whether you’re looking for a romantic arrangement for a loved one, need an elite florist to beautify your wedding, are searching for one-of-a-kind gifts and home decor, or just want to enjoy a unique shopping experience, this is the place to go – you’ll leave the store with nothing but the best. Breath-taking designs, sophisticated style, and premier quality is engrained in all things Teatro Verde. 

Meet co-owners Shawn Gibson and his partner Michael Pellegrino, the two who grew Teatro Verde into what it is today: a world-leading floral, décor, and gift shop. First Capital would like to congratulate them on reaching this tremendous milestone and for opening their brand-new retail store in Yorkville Village this fall.  

This image shows both owners back to back in the centre of the store
Michael Pellegrino & Shawn Gibson in the Teatro Verde Store

Going Back to Their Roots 

Rewind 25+ years back, Shawn and Michael had come from very different backgrounds. Michael was born in Italy, where he worked for several years as a professional landscaper. Plants, flowers, and creating glorious gardens were his specialty. Shawn grew up in Canada in a farming community, but the theatre is where he found his passion. He moved to New York City and attended Parsons School of Design studying décor and set design. Upon graduating, he worked on the sets of several famous Broadway plays such as CATS, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, and more. With this job came lots of travel so Shawn was able to immerse himself in various cultures around the world. Little did he know that these experiences would prove to be part of his key to success with Teatro Verde later in life.  

Leaving both their professions behind and relocating back to Canada, the two began working in interior design and décor at Yorkdale Mall for special holidays, events, and activations. Impressed by their work, the mall’s management team took them over to Yorkville Village (then known as Hazelton Lanes) to work on similar projects. 

Not long after this transition, a change in mall ownership was taking place and a rare opportunity presented itself. Michael and Shawn were approached to take over a local flower shop located inside the mall. Though they were hesitant at first, Shawn was confident in Michael’s natural green thumb and abundant knowledge of flowers and plants from his landscaping days. Engaging his own talents, he knew his set design and décor background would allow him to build the most eye-catching retail experience.  

Taking inspiration from both of their backgrounds of theatre and landscape, Shawn had asked Michael and his sister what “Green Theatre” meant in Italian the night before signing the lease to what was about to bring them 25 years of success. “Teatro Verde”, the direct Italian translation, combines their past to make their future. 

Upon opening, Michael and Shawn saw immediate success and a positive response from the Yorkville neighbourhood and beyond. This was the start of a very bright floral future.  

Elegant Arrangements & Fabulous Flowers 

What differentiates them from other florists you ask? It’s clean, it’s chic, it’s pure, and it’s showy. If you want the best, this is where you go. If you want a reaction, that’s what you’re going to get.  

Michael, Teatro Verde’s head florist, is always focused on finding the best quality flowers for his valued customers. He believes spending more time sourcing the best products available allows for the flowers to stand out and speak for themselves. The more an arrangement needs manipulating and prodding, the less attractive it becomes. 

Doing Flowers is like cooking Italian food, it’s the best ingredients with very little manipulation… it’s very pure in its natural form so you don’t want to do a lot of process on it

Michael Pellegrino, Co-Owner of Teatrhttps://teatroverde.com/o Verde 

Michael takes pride in his craft. In fact, he spends 6-7 hours preparing his arrangements before opening every single day. Most florists subscribe to a finer flower service and lose control of their quality. This is not the case at Teatro Verde as Michael carefully sources his flowers from over 475 local and international suppliers. Their flowers are flown in from places like South America, Europe, and Israel, and hand-picked by Michael at local Ontario markets seasonally.  

It is no wonder why Teatro Verde is the first-choice florist for Toronto’s elite. In fact, they provide weekly arrangements to the city’s most luxurious hotels including the Four Seasons, The Hazelton, Park Hyatt, and Shangri-La, and continuously send to the homes and residences of the city’s wealthiest patrons. It doesn’t stop there: Teatro Verde is a household name among celebrities and has serviced the likes of Lady Gaga, Sylvester Stallone, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Ellen DeGeneres, Martha Stewart, and more.  

Every arrangement that leaves here, is an advertisement for the next arrangement… they’re show pieces

Shawn Gibson, Co-Owner of Teatro Verde

Retail Shopping Experience 

While Teatro Verde is known for their bold floral creations, they also specialize in one-of-a-kind gifts and home décor. Shawn’s extensive background in set design, worldly travels, and décor expertise, have given him the tools to turn their retail store into a shopping experience. From top to bottom, the shop is filled with rare finds that you wouldn’t see in a regular gift shop. From unique candles such as Trudon or Baccarat from Paris, Lavatoro from Sicily, Dr. Vranjes from Florence, to rarities from Asia, the store brings worldliness and diverse cultures to Toronto.  

Shawn is constantly staying in touch with what’s going on in the world and what’s available so he can try and bring the best to Toronto. By doing so, he fills a niche that isn’t there and believes that the key to a successful small business in this environment (especially post-pandemic) is just that.  

Teatro Verde is an ever-evolving changing landscape like the world is. From season to season, year to year, we’re always keeping a pulse on pop culture, lifestyles, politics, and more

Shawn Gibson, Co-Owner of Teatro Verde 

Shawn’s approach to retail is that you can’t wait around for people to come to your store, instead you have to find ways to attract people in. Once you’re in, the goal is to desensitize you from all your problems in life and take you on a journey. Then they have what’s called “milk” at the back of the store (similar to convenience stores) which forces you to shop the entirety of the store so you don’t miss a section. 

I used to work for Ed Mirvish who taught me so many retail tricks without even realizing it. He used to say that when designing full-page ads for his plays,if you put one thing in the corner and you don’t like it then I’ve lost you but if I put 50 things in that corner, I’m bound to get you on one of those things

Shawn Gibson, Co-Owner of Teatro Verde 

Yorkville Neighbourhood 

Teatro Verde has been a neighbourhood institution for over a quarter decade. Since Yorkville is a very well-established neighbourhood, Michael and Shawn know all their clients and have built very loyal relationships over the years. Not only have they captivated their audience and continue to deliver world-class products and service, but they listen to their customers. They understand their needs, wants, and are always looking for ways to go above and beyond.  

Having moved locations a few times throughout Yorkville Village, they are thrilled with their new, larger location and know that this concept is only possible because of the community and its patrons.  

Teatro Verde store front

First Capital congratulates Teatro Verde on hitting this tremendous 25-year milestone! Their success over the past quarter decade speaks to their unrelenting ability to deliver first-class floral arrangements, unique gift items and premier service. We’re fortunate to have them in Yorkville Village

Be sure to check out their features in Dolce Magazine here, House & Home features here and here, Toronto Star articles here and here, Bloor-Yorkville BIA mention here, and so much more! 

For more information on Teatro Verde, see their website here and don’t forget to give them a follow on Instagram here.  

Head to Yorkville Village today and experience their exquisite flowers, gifts, and décor! 

Centre Médical Mieux-Être , Montreal’s top tier medical clinic, is revolutionizing the dated approach to doctor visits and patient care. Tired of wasting time sitting at your local walk-in clinic and waiting weeks to receive your test results? This state-of-the-art medical concept works to alleviate some of our medical system’s burdens with their efficient waiting room policies, a hub of services that provides patients the utmost accessibility, a streamlined communication and patient coordination system, and so much more. Centre Médical Mieux-Être is a one-stop-shop for all your medical needs, all while providing the highest quality of service.  

Owned and created by certified occupational therapist and serial entrepreneur Remi Boulila. Remi has grown his business into a fully realized network of medical centres that provide diversified and accessible health care throughout the Montreal region. He opened his first location in 2019 at First Capital’s Place Viau leasing 5,000 sf and has since expanded his footprint twice, almost tripling in size. Not only has he opened three additional locations, but he was also at the forefront of medical support and hospital relief efforts throughout the pandemic – a testament to his success and entrepreneurial spirit. 

Lady walking into clinic

Humble Beginnings 

Remi Boulila, a Montreal native, grew up surrounded by all things medical. Several of his family members are physiotherapists so naturally he followed in their footsteps. He attended the University of Montreal achieving his bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy and went on to graduate with a Master of Science in the same field. Following his passion further, he began his career as an occupational therapist and worked at a local Montreal hospital. During his time there, he always appreciated the convenience of having all health services from testing stations like radiology and screening to having almost every kind of medical specialist on staff, all in one place. 

Remi Boulila in the hall of his clinic

While he always wanted to open his own medical business outside of the hospital one day, he knew he’d be faced with the inefficiency and slow flow of the clinic style medical system. He then asked himself if there was a better way and wondered why we couldn’t offer the same hospital level quality and efficiency, outside the hospital. From there, his “Hub of Services” concept was born as his main goal was to revolutionize doctor visits and patient care. Like all great entrepreneurs, he had found the solution to a problem. 

By this time, Remi began bringing his concept to life.  

Revolutionary Business Model 

When you step inside Centre Médical Mieux-Être, you will never wait longer than 15 minutes to see a clinician, nurse, or doctor. No longer will patients need to sit around in waiting rooms anticipating their follow ups. The same goes for receiving test results; with almost every kind of medical practitioner on staff and in one place, your results from one test will be sent to your specialist and shared with you almost immediately. In fact, Remi’s second expansion at Place Viau included a brand-new radiology screening and x-ray facility so patients wouldn’t need to go elsewhere – accessibility at its finest. 

His “Hub of Services” business model is truly a modern convenience. Patients can have minor surgery, see their family doctor, and have a full prenatal follow-up, all under the same roof. Here are the types of services and specialists they have on site: 

Family MedicineLaboratories
Family Medicine Group (GMF)On-site laboratory services
General PractitionersBlood Tests
Emergency Medicine (minor)
Specialist DoctorsRehabilitation 
Urology Physiotherapy 
General Surgery Occupational Therapy 
Psychiatry Message Therapy/Orthopedics 
Gastroenterology Acupuncture 
Gynecology Nutrition Care and Education 
Otorhinolaryngology Kinesiology
Internal Medicine
Social Work
COVID-19 Relief Staff

Reliability, equality, and professionalism are at the heart of Centre Médical Mieux-Être’s working method while maintaining high standards of quality medical care. Their consistent patient satisfaction is reflective of their doctors, nurses, and support staff’s excellent care and attention to detail. Rest assured, your health is their priority. 

COVID-19 Relief Efforts 

Only a few short months after opening his first location at Place Viau, Remi was faced with combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the virus’s spread in North America, Remi and his physicians kept a close eye on how the virus was spreading and were able to predict and prepare for escalating cases in Canada – they saw it coming.  

Immediately, they prepared themselves for what was coming by stocking up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing kits, setting up strict protocols to ensure the safety of both their patients and staff, and readying their facilities to properly triage and care for incoming COVID patients. 

In fact, they became one of the first government designated COVID-19 testing and triage centres in Quebec. While everything was locked down around them, they were seeing upwards of 100 COVID-19 patients a day, totalling over 150,000 to date.  

It is success stories like these that help shape the neighbourhoods in which we operate. It is evident that Remi and his outstanding team put the health of their community first and were key supporters during unprecedented times.  

From COVID-19 relief efforts, to providing diversified, top notch, efficient, and accessible healthcare for everyone, Centre Médical Mieux-Être has become the first-choice healthcare provider for the Montreal community.  

Now in its fourth year at Place Viau, First Capital couldn’t be prouder of Centre Médical Mieux-Être’s well-earned success. Remi’s entrepreneurial mindset not only garnered him his own practice but has single-headedly revolutionized his patient’s doctor visits and patient care for the better. His state-of-the-art concept and innovative approach to medicine is a positive change.   

Going forward, Remi plans to expand Centre Médical Mieux-Être and open 10 more clinics across Montreal in the next 5 – 7 years and we look forward to watching them grow and thrive. 

To book an appointment and to explore their expansive list of services, head to their website here and go check them out at Place Viau or any of their other three locations today.

Keep an eye out for updates and announcements by following them on Instagram here and Linkedin here

Burger Drops is one of Toronto’s premier smash burger restaurants that has become a destination spot for the Liberty Village community, their GTA neighbours, and beyond. Owned and created by former Aloette Sous Chef, Greg Bourolias, Burger Drops has modernized the classic smash burger, and the proof is in the patty. Using nothing but the best ingredients; quality, detail, and precision is the Burger Drops way. What started from a friend’s backyard birthday party and sold-out weekend pop-ups, has grown to a fully realized brick and mortar store in the heart of Toronto’s Liberty Village.  

In our latest Tenant Spotlight, we take you through the Burger Drops story and how Greg Bourolias and his team built their burger empire from the ground up. It is success stories like these that shape our neighbourhoods and urban communities by helping them thrive, grow, and become gathering places.  

As long as he can remember, Greg has always had a passion for food. Growing up in a big Greek family, some of his fondest memories come from his family’s Sunday dinners. His father owned a successful restaurant and Greg’s passion for cooking grew by watching him in the kitchen and seeing the joy food brought to their customers, friends, and family.  

Following in his father’s footsteps, Greg became a professional chef and worked in some of Toronto’s most beloved restaurants. His expertise, skill, and natural talent that he garnered from his childhood really paid off.  

Back in 2018, Greg was working as a Sous Chef at popular Toronto restaurant, Aloette. Although he enjoyed his role, he always dreamt of opening his own restaurant one day. Cheeseburgers were one of his favourite comfort foods and who doesn’t love a classic burger? From there, he started experimenting and asking himself, “what does my ideal burger taste like?” and eventually came across the smash burger concept.  

Burgers are a universal love language

– Greg Bourolias, Burger Drops’ Chef & Owner  

When he’s passionate about something, Greg is someone who dives 100% all in and his smash burger concept is no exception. He began testing out different ingredients and flavour profiles, sharing his creations with friends and family. Everything was perfected – from the fat to meat ratio, caliber of bun, temperature and minutes on the grill, balance of toppings, complexity of condiments, to the harmony of spices and seasoning. This kind of love and attention to detail is still incorporated in everything they do to this day.  

During the process of perfecting his product, the small, but mighty Burger Drops community continuously shared their burgers on social media and Toronto foodies were taking notes. That summer, friends of Greg asked him to cater their birthday party, so he and his girlfriend Kat walked in with their portable Blackstone barbeque and made some smash burgers. Not only were the burgers a hit among the guests, but the couple had shared them on social media which caused even more buzz and excitement. People wanted to know where they could get their hands on these mouth-watering marvels! 

From their growing social media presence and ongoing requests from followers, he decided to hold a pop-up event. Without any experience, Greg rented a unit at College and Bathurst on Canada Day and the overflow of guests endlessly lined the streets of Toronto. From there, Burger Drops really took off and they held 5 more pop-ups which hosted hundreds of guests – many of which had seconds! 

Fast forward to the beginning of March 2020 – Greg had a whole summer’s worth of pop-ups booked. He knew his business was rapidly growing and was confident he could take it far and wide. At this point, Greg was working six days a week at Aloette and using his one day off at the pop-ups. Greg decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and pursue his Burger Drops dream full-time.  

Not even two weeks later, the unexpected happened. The pandemic forced Greg to cancel all their spring and summer pop-ups to avoid any in-person events. He had to figure out a way to get his burgers to people as the demand kept growing. Pivoting in the face of adversity, Greg came up with the idea to do pre-orders and curb-side pick ups. Luckily, the apps and technology needed to support this was growing for the survival of the food service industry. The wait was finally over; upon introducing this new feature to guests via social media, their pre-orders were fully sold out daily – a significant milestone for Greg, his team, and growing business.  

By the time the leaves started to change, business was booming for Burger Drops. Their pre-orders had been selling out all summer, they engaged in several successful partnerships with other local restaurants, their social media had thousands of followers, and guests from all over the GTA and beyond were flocking to the city to try their iconic smash burgers.  

Though their COVID-safe pre-orders and curb-side pick ups were wildly successful, Greg knew this would not be sustainable for guests having to wait outside in the cold winter months. As fun as the pop-ups were, they weren’t a long-term option. The business was steadily growing, their menu was expanding, and more and more people wanted their food.  

This inevitably triggered the idea of opening their first permanent, brick and mortar store. Greg wanted something that could sustain more guests, support their growth, the convenience of a stationary fully functioning kitchen, a gathering spot for their guests, and most importantly a place to call home. A fully realized retail store also meant they could finally build a lasting relationship with neighbourhood members.  

Coincidentally, First Capital’s very own Toronto foodie, Susanna Cheng, was a loyal customer of Burger Drops from the start. She had attended almost all of their sold-out pops and pre-orders and continuously suggested they open a store with us. When Greg was ready to make the retail plunge and take Burger Drops to the next level, he knew just who to call. 

Fostering the relationship between Greg and our super leasing team, we were able to find a space that fit his every need right here in the heart of Liberty Village. Previously a Poutinerie, this two-level 1900+ sf space provided the perfect layout including a fully built-out kitchen, ample storage, and space for guests to sit. Not to mention its accessibility along Atlantic Ave and adjacency to the highly trafficked King Street West made for the perfect recipe. Everyone loves burgers, but because of the residents around Liberty Village, the neighbourhood is always supportive and ready to welcome local, small businesses such as Burger Drops. 

We’re honoured to have some of the best guests in Toronto… They’re always gracious and excited to try our food. With Liberty Village, you can feel the support from our local community.

– Kat Gaskin, Burger Drops’ Director of Creative & Community 

Burger Drops opened its doors in September 2020 and has become a Liberty Village institution, as well as a destination spot attracting people from all over Toronto, the GTA, Vaughan, Barrie, Milton, Waterloo, and beyond – it is no secret their burgers have become a Southern-Ontario sensation. 

Their food needs no introduction – the flavours, textures, and freshness speak for themselves. Their most popular burger, the Double Original, is Burger Drops in a burger. Its flavour profile is Greg’s idea of the most perfect cheeseburger. From burgers and chicken sandwiches to veggie patties; curly, crinkle, and cheese fries; paired with a classic soda and choice of decadent dessert – they’ve refined a classic combo with a twist. 

A simple burger and fries doesn’t really command a lot of respect but we care about our food and everything that goes into it… We love what we do and we love our people, so why not feed them the best?

– Greg Bourolias, Burger Drops’ Chef & Owner 

Everything is perfected. From Burger Drops’ famous Jalapeño Relish, never frozen AAA beef, in-house pickles, hand-crafted condiments, to using Martin’s Potato Rolls (their go-to puffy, pillowy-soft bun). Even their cheese sauce is hand made and created in-house for quality assurance. Desserts are not an afterthought either; they hand-mix their whipped cream, make their own brown butter cereal crumb, and self-caramelize their salted caramel.  

What really makes them stand out is their incredible attention to detail, use of the highest quality ingredients, top notch made-to-order freshness, talented professional chefs and team, and everything is made in-house with love and care. In fact, their produce, meat, and other ingredients are shipped fresh to their doorstep every morning. You know when you enter the Drop Shop or order delivery online, you’re getting simply the best.  

Now in it’s second year here in Liberty Village, First Capital couldn’t be prouder of the sheer success and well-deserved admiration Burger Drops has received. In fact, they were named #26 in Yelp’s top places to eat in Canada (all voted in by the people), their veggie burger placed in the top 9 of Toronto Life’s best burgers in the city (list includes beef burgers as well), and have been featured in BlogTO twice: read the most recent one here and the other here

The future of Burger Drops is bright, and we look forward to seeing them grow even more. From searching for their second location, expanding their team to innovating their menu, they are thriving more and more everyday! 

Be sure to give them a try at their Drop Shop at the Shops of King Liberty and keep an eye out for updates and special announcements on their website and Instagram

Introducing The Webster, our newest luxury retail tenant at 121 Scollard Street in Yorkville. It is one of the world’s most prestigious retail concepts that curates emerging and established luxury fashion brands together. The Webster is completely different from other conventional mono and multi-brand retailers and department stores. Their personalized approach to the entire shopping experience really sets them apart – from their first-class private appointments, to stylists pre-ordering runway and couture pieces for special clients. Burberry, Chanel, Givenchy, Gucci, Valentino, Versace, and Saint Laurent, are among some of the luxury brands displayed side-by-side as a collection. First Capital recognized The Webster’s unique retail concept would enhance the overall experience for Yorkville shoppers and the neighbourhood in general.

Laure Hériard Dubreuil, The Webster’s Founder and Creative Director, opened her first location in Miami, Florida in June 2009 as a recent immigrant from Paris, France. Taking her extensive background and expertise in luxury fashion with her, she had a vision that would offer shoppers warmth, comfort, personality, and the best of international fashion. Since then, the brand has grown extensively into a world-renowned luxury fashion retailer with a concept like no other.

Spanning seven locations across the U.S., their newest location at 121 Scollard is their first-ever debut on the international stage. Fitting in perfectly with the prestigious neighbourhood that is Yorkville. The Webster is located just off the main street, creating a destination spot all on its own. This unique heritage building features an eye-catching pink exterior and a gold expansion on the back, all designed in collaboration with the famous French interior designer Stéphane Parmentier.

From meeting The Webster’s team over two years ago, to celebrating its recent opening on October 30th – this was truly an outstanding accomplishment to celebrate.

Keep reading to see how this unique project came together.

Back in 2019, First Capital met with The Webster’s team, touring their existing locations to develop a real understanding of their brand and concept. By doing so, we were able to curate an opportunity within our portfolio that fit perfectly based on what we had learned about the brand. Revered for its mix of high-end retail, award-winning restaurants, luxury residential, and home to Toronto’s most affluent shoppers, we knew the Yorkville neighbourhood was the perfect spot.

By the fall of 2019, our Construction team kicked off this special project. Upon touring 121 Scollard, The Webster team loved this unique heritage building and were easily able to roll out their concept to fit the mould of this unique property. We then began the design process in early 2020 and by mid-year, we had engaged Structure Corp as our construction partner – one of the leading construction management companies for luxury retail in Canada. For the remainder of the project, we were forced to pause construction on several occasions due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

First Capital was responsible for all aspects of the building, from the base building components, to bringing it up to code, interior design and fit, structural reinforcement, exterior brick restoration, roof replacement and updates, accessibility enhancements, to even the finest of interior details – including a substantial millwork package, back expansion, and exclusive circular shaped room. This essentially allows for the tenant to open for business as soon as they take possession.

From there, our construction team began diving into the more detailed design discussions with our architect of record (Cumulus Architects Inc.), as well as interior designer Stéphane Parmentier and his team (Agence Stéphane Parmentier), as requested by The Webster. Though difficult to coordinate given the pandemic, as well as time and geographical differences, both teams had one goal in mind. Differing from most tenants and retailers, The Webster doesn’t have a specific design prototype or preferred layout, which means every single one of their now eight stores are uniquely designed. With this in mind, the design team was free to be as creative as could be.

Stéphane wanted visitors to not only experience the store visually, but also to feel it’s vibrations – engaging the senses. His initial inspiration came from photos of palm trees, daisies, goldleaf, flamingos, and extravagant mansions, which all shaped the design of the space.

You can really see all of those elements in the final product now… It’s interesting to see the inspiration come to life

– Meghan Bichsel, Senior Project Manager, First Capital

His ultimate goal was to bring an entirely new vibe to what you might not expect from a typical retail space; a travel into space and time with this new kind of luxury. As The Webster brand is exactly that, he got right down to the DNA of the brand – new, different, twisted, elegant, funky, contemporary, but also homey and inviting. He wanted to generate excitement among shoppers to buy new things as the brand itself and their clothes are different.

When you enter the store, there are surprises all around, including a life-sized pink feathered bear made by Italian artist Paola Pivi. Second, the large preserved palm trees imported straight from France. Third, there is a mirrored-ceiling portal that leads to the back expansion titled “The Whisper Room”. Circular in shape, this exclusive space embodies the rounded edges of a daisy. Stéphane was inspired by the recent birth of The Webster’s founder, Laure Hériard Dubreuil’s baby girl whose middle name is Whisper. This personal touch provides a link to The Webster’s design principle of love being at the centre of everything.

She’s the soul, the heart, the vibe, and the smile of The Webster… The room is a tribute to love

– Stéphane Parmentier

One of the last major hurdles in completing this project was getting the respective approvals to paint the exterior brick pink – The Webster’s signature colour. As the building falls within a Heritage Conservation District (HCD), this provided its challenges and our Construction team had to receive approval for every exterior design element from the City of Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services. The city was not initially fond of the pink, but were always happy to collaborate, especially with the help of our heritage consultants ERA. They helped draft important proposals comparing the neighbouring buildings and their existing colours, which ultimately secured the approval from the city – a momentous achievement!

After two years of collaboration between our Leasing and Construction teams, as well as the entire project design team and the brand itself, The Webster finally opened its doors at 121 Scollard on October 30th, 2021. It is always rewarding to see such a detailed and unique project come together. Not only is The Webster transformational for the Yorkville neighbourhood, but also Toronto’s fashion experience and offerings overall. It is expected to be a destination for international travelers and local visitors for many years to come. In this prime location, The Webster’s world-class experience is setting a new bar for luxury in the country as this concept is something that Canada hasn’t seen before.

First Capital is proud to welcome The Webster to Toronto and look forward to seeing their success in Yorkville and beyond. Head to their newest location at 121 Scollard to check out the Pink Experience and see their one-of-a-kind fashions. To learn more about The Webster head to the following links:

Instagram: @thewebster
Website: The Webster

We’d like to thank the following consultants on their outstanding time and effort on this amazing project:

Architect Cumulus Architects Inc.
Interior Design Agence Stéphane Parmentier
Structural Engineer Leonard Kalishenko & Associates Ltd.
Electrical Engineer Hammerschlag & Joffe Inc.
Mechanical Engineer The Mitchell Partnership Inc.
Envelope Consultant FORSMITH Building Science Consultants Inc.
Heritage Consultant ERA Architects Inc.
Elevator Consultant Soberman Engineering Inc.
Code Consultant CodeNext Inc.

Over 25 years ago, Craig Buckley, the CEO and founder of Kettlemans bagel, had a dream of having his favourite childhood food be enjoyed by more than just Montrealers. Bringing that dream to life, he’s grown his business from a humble bagel shop in the heart of Ottawa, to a Canadian sandwich institution. In our newest tenant spotlight, we explore how Kettlemans Bagel has popularized the Montreal bagel, while keeping to tradition and maintaining authenticity.

Soon, Kettlemans will be celebrating the opening of their fifth location at our Eagleson Place property in Kanata, ON – one of Ottawa’s fastest-growing areas. Not only will it serve the surrounding neighbourhood and increase accessibility for patrons in the city’s west end, but it will serve as the company’s new office and headquarters.

Born and raised in Montreal, Craig Buckley grew up with the city’s most beloved traditional baked good: Montreal bagels. Moving to Ottawa for work as an adult, he often made the lengthy Montreal trip only to enjoy them whenever possible; though, he wasn’t the only Montreal native doing so. With their wild popularity in one city, he realized the potential they could have in other cities.

He quickly fell in love with the idea that no matter where you are in the world, Montreal bagels are something that make people happy. He envisioned them being enjoyed in as many homes as possible, as he and his family did growing up. Fulfilling this dream, he left his corporate commercial bakery role behind, and Kettlemans Bagel was officially born.

In August 1993, Craig opened his first location in The Glebe, one of Ottawa’s oldest and most vibrant urban neighbourhoods. In order to make the best bagels around, he began by sourcing the most impeccable ingredients, while sticking to the traditional 400-year-old recipe. In this pursuit, he felt being 100% transparent with customers was essential, from which the open concept kitchen design was created – a feature that is still around in all their locations today. Essentially, Craig wanted Kettlemans to be more than just a bagel shop, but an entire experience where customers can come in and watch the baking process before their very eyes.

Differing from standard bakery bagels, Kettlemans Montreal bagels are hand rolled and pressed to release the trapped air. They’re then placed in a kettle of boiling honey water to provide a pop of sweetness and seal in the freshness; the name Kettlemans pays homage to this very process. The bagels are then baked in a wood-fired oven, giving them a slightly smoky flavour profile with a crispy exterior and soft interior. On top of their outstanding texture and flavour, what especially sets them apart is the profound love and attention that goes into every single one.

Because they’re hand-rolled, they’re not perfectly shaped… They’re beautifully imperfect”

Over the years, Kettlemans has become famous for their outstanding bagel sandwiches, using fresh proteins that are cured and prepared in-house. Keeping to the classic bagel-cream cheese pairing, they also offer fourteen different cream cheeses and fourteen bagel flavours – the combinations are endless!

As the older Glebe neighbourhood rarely saw new comers, Kettlemans immediately sparked a major buzz that quickly echoed throughout other Ottawa neighbourhoods. From the great success of his first location, not long after did he open his second in our College Square property serving the Nepean neighbourhood. It was here they started snowballing, as Craig had once dreamed, the success of his two locations allowed him to expand even more. In fact they’ve now opened a new location in the GTA, and soon to open in downtown Toronto, and Eagleson Place in Kanata, ON – Ottawa’s fastest-growing neighbourhood, to add to their three Ottawa locations.

Choosing Eagleson Place was easy not only because of its growth, but it serves the western most part of the city that their other locations do not – they wanted to make it their crown jewel in order to pay homage to their Ottawa roots. Overall, it will act as the company’s office headquarters and feature an innovative pick up window which will leverage pre-order technology via their mobile app.

Today, their bakery operations span over a 24-hour, 7 day a week period, in which customers can enjoy their bagels any time they please. This non-stop baking process allows them to wholesale their products to local grocers such as Farm Boy and Costco. They also offer catering services, a subscription model, a rewards program, and a state-of-the-art app to support these initiatives. However, their growth doesn’t stop there… In fact, expansion plans exceed this as they’ll be growing even further in Toronto in 2022 and potentially international in the future.

Did you know they’re now one of Canada’s most famous bakeries?

In the midst of all their growth, they pride themselves on maintaining the authenticity and tradition that Craig built the company upon. By sticking to the best quality ingredients, same classic recipe, perfect taste and texture, and attention to detail, they’ve established a loyal customer base.

Mixing tradition with progression, their main focus is to expand their flavour profile on a seasonal basis – a popular practice within the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry. For example, they recently came out with a pumpkin spice bagel for fall and are experimenting with a peppermint bagel for the upcoming Christmas season. In fact, for June pride month 2021, they welcomed the “LGBT” bagel containing lettuce, guacamole, bacon, and tomato, as the acronym suggests – a portion of the sales were donated to a local 2SLGBTQIA+ charity. Overwhelmed by its success, they decided to add it as a regular menu item, while continuing the ongoing donation.

Not only are they participating in socially responsible initiatives, but they’re focused on being environmentally friendly as well. In fact, Kettlemans has switched from using plastic to compostable bags and introduced eco-friendly packaging to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
By implementing initiatives such as this, they like to “lead by example” as not many other QSRs in the Canadian market are doing so. By being socially and environmentally responsible, while bettering customer experience and maintaining the best bagels around, they’re confident in their ability to inflict change and be pioneers in the QSR industry.

First Capital would like to congratulate Kettlemans Bagels on the opening of their newest location at Eagleson Place. For many years, they’ve been valued tenants of ours at College Square, and we can’t wait to see where their success will take them next. For more information on this Canadian bagel institution, check out their website or Instagram!

In our commitment to support and help our neighbourhoods thrive, we actively add art to public spaces at our properties across the country. Our newest installation, Lighten Up, comes from renowned Toronto artists Christine Leu and Alan Webb of LeuWebb Projects. This new sculpture, located at 3080 Yonge Street, presents an aura of levity and joy on a bustling city corner downtown.

This unique piece is inspired by the neighbourhood’s active members and overall environment, hoping to catch the eye of those going by. Its bright and shiny design is meant to engage the public by providing a moment of wonder, joy, and dismay while bringing the charm of the neighbourhood to life. The seven striking balloons are designed to embody this very moment, right at the corner of Yonge and Lawrence.

Did you know that each cast aluminum balloon weighs between 600 and 800 pounds?

Christine Leu and Alan Webb, the artists behind 3080 Yonge Street’s Lighten Up, are the owners and creators of LeuWebb Projects, a renowned art and design studio located in Toronto. The two share a background in architecture but have similarly gravitated towards the arts. Since 2011, Christine and Alan have built an impressive portfolio, completing over 20 site-specific installations both locally and internationally. Their ongoing artistic focus is finding new ways to engage the broader public through creative practice, whether that be interactive light and sound pieces at Nuit Blanche, temporary installations, or more permanent sculptures such as Lighten Up.

Just before the pandemic hit last year, Christine and Alan were asked to submit a design proposal for First Capital’s 3080 Yonge Street invited art call. Upon researching our arts program, they were impressed by the scale of our public art portfolio and prepared to make a submission.

It [FCR’s arts program] really offers a lot of opportunities for artists but also a lot to the general public

– Christine

Christine and Alan began by visiting the site to absorb the surroundings and atmosphere. From the busy Yonge and Lawrence intersection, to our many tenants and city-goers, to the TTC Subway stop; Christine and Alan could feel the rush of the neighbourhood and immediately had a moment of inspiration. Alan imagined a bunch of escaped balloons that have been trapped underneath the canopy. This would ultimately create a sense of joy and levity at a bustling Toronto street corner.

Maybe your eye catches one of these bright balloons above you and you have a moment with a different perception of the city

– Alan

Considering other perspectives and interpretations, Christine and Alan had also envisioned a singular balloon situated in the ground planter away from the others. They liked the idea of showing a contrast of emotions, exhibiting a feeling of deflation amidst the city’s liveliness.


Fabricator: Punchclock MetalWorks

For most people, the impact of the pandemic came with great uncertainty and unpredictability. Since the piece was designed and conceived pre-pandemic, the creative duo never could have expected what was to come. From the supply chain sourcing of aluminum alloy and its price fluctuations, to one of their extended team members catching COVID, Christine and Alan faced it all. Despite their challenges, it’s easy to see how this vibrant and engaging art piece brings colour and vibrancy to 3080 Yonge Street. Going forward, they have some exciting potential new projects coming up, including a monument for Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. They’re also recent winners of a commission to create a curatorial plan and arts project for a yet-to-be-named Canadian municipality – more details to come in the fall.

Thank you, Christine and Alan, for creating such a beautiful and unique piece for 3080 Yonge Street. You can now see Lighten Up in person at the corner of Yonge and Lawrence in Toronto. To explore more of Leuwebb’s portfolio, head to the following links below.

Website: leuwebb.ca
Instagram:
@leuwebb

Want to learn more about our arts program and hear from LeuWebb Projects? Head to our newly refreshed arts page here and check out our episode of The Explainer here.

The Devenish is a fashion and culture hub in Calgary’s Mount Royal neighbourhood. Continuing our Tenant Spotlights, we’re highlighting one that has expanded her footprint in The Devenish twice in just four years. From a humble 900 sf of retail space to 4,000 sf today, Kate Hewko has grown a budding e-commerce empire and become Calgary’s top destination for all things fashion.

In tandem with her growing business, Kate gives back to her local community, participating in several of the city’s largest charity events and fundraisers. From styling top celebrities to being featured in several renowned fashion magazines, Kate’s accomplishments serve as a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit.

Kate Hewko in her store front
Kate Hewko inside her store located in The Devenish

Before becoming a fashion mogul, Kate began with a degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario, and a diploma in fashion marketing from the International Academy of Design & Technology. With a clear passion for fashion, she knew she wanted to start her own small business.

Although she had an eye for fashion and emerging trends, design was never something she studied, nor had interest in. Shortly after graduation, she started a small women’s boutique carrying emerging designers that unfortunately never took off. With a slight pivot, she started a similar small online jewelry store. Upon launch, she faced familiar issues such as slim profit margins and not enough reach.

Kate then made the career-changing realization that her business model needed to be self-branded, instead of selling other people’s jewelry. She began looking for manufacturers who would make smaller batches, so she could start producing her newly self-branded Kate Hewko jewelry – a change that ultimately proved incredibly successful.  

It wasn’t long before she needed to keep up with the growing success of her brand, deciding to open a retail store to support it. Searching around town, she wanted to be on 17th avenue in Mount Royal – the life and cultural heart of Calgary. The Devenish was the perfect spot, checking all of her boxes, with the added bonus of its historic design and heritage status. Beginning with a 900 sf unit, she opened her first ever retail store just two weeks before giving birth to her third child – an incredibly challenging time for her!

Within her first few months of opening at The Devenish, it quickly became apparent that she wasn’t going to make it from her jewelry collection alone. Wanting to dive into clothing, she asked herself: how do the big fashion brands such as Zara and H&M make large profits? The answer lies in sourcing from the right manufacturers using a private label model. By adopting this, she was able to turn her business around, increasing profit margins, and driving repeat business. This marked the second major milestone in her business and was a turning point for her brand.

Today, Kate works with over 50 manufacturers that allow her to bring in new product every week. In contrast to her competition, Kate’s products are not mass produced and aren’t available everywhere else. Her clients love the exclusivity and uniqueness of her products and can always come back to find something new and fresh on Kate’s shelves and online store.

What sets her apart from other designers is her keen eye for new trends and fashion freshness. If she notices a trend when purchasing, she won’t buy it as it wouldn’t interest her niche client base – they’re always looking for unique finds. Not only is it good business, but exclusivity allows her to thrive over the cheaper fast-fashion brands.

Kate Hewko Store

With her increasing success, Kate has now expanded twice in The Devenish in just four years. Starting at 900 sf, expanding to 1,700 sf in 2019, and now 4,000 sf, Kate Hewko is growing exponentially. Like most business owners, she was recently forced to pivot during COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, she turned focus to her online store to adapt to the unprecedented circumstances – ultimately skyrocketing her sales. She went from having most sales come from in-store purchases at her single store in Calgary to a North American-wide range of clientele. In fact, her most popular cities now include Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, New York, and Los Angeles. Even though she saw great success in The Devenish prior to the pandemic, her e-commerce growth has greatly augmented her in-store sales and traffic even further.

Not only has her pivot to e-commerce helped grow her business, but she’s also grown an exceedingly large social media presence on Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok. She’s also been featured in some of the world’s most prestigious magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and has had celebrities including Miley Cyrus and Idina Menzel sport her jewelry on the world stage.

Through the continued success of her business, Kate is always looking for ways to give back to the Calgary community. She especially loves and cares for those that support children’s causes because she has three of her own. Kate believes it’s an important place to put money because it’s our next generation. She has hosted and participated in countless charity events over the years and has become known in the city for doing so. Her most notable ones include hosting a charity fashion event at The Grand and being part of the infamous Alley Party.

I love giving back because I enjoy helping to improve culture and community

– Kate

Kate recently hired four additional employees, allowing her to focus on the business aspects that she loves most – marketing, lead generation, and data analytics. Going forward, her main goal is to continue growing her business throughout North America, dive deeper into the world of e-commerce, and potentially bring back footwear and faux fur – apparel she once had to discontinue due to her smaller reach.

We congratulate Kate on the outstanding success of her business and the two remarkable expansions of her shop at The Devenish.

Learn more and shop at Kate Hewko here:

Web: https://www.katehewko.com/
IG: @katehewko


For over 11 years, First Capital has developed a significant and longstanding relationship with the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD U). In partnership with OCAD, we’ve held various art competitions challenging students to create unique installations at some of our properties across Canada. These competition pieces provide exposure for the artists while beautifying the neighbourhoods in which they are displayed. With every new piece we’re reminded of their creativity, imagination, and talent. We are thrilled to help them kick start their careers and build their professional portfolios.

This Artist Spotlight features our newest art installation, and the creative minds behind it. Recently, we met up with the three winners of First Capital and OCAD’s first ever mural-specific art call competition, Anastasia Tarkhanova, Zuna Amir, and Ashlyn Mundy. Tasked with designing to the theme of equity, diversity, and inclusion, while embodying the Yonge & Roselawn neighbourhood, these young artists impressed the judges, OCAD professors, and First Capital employees alike.


Just four months ago, Anastasia, Zuna, and Ashlyn found themselves looking for ways to build their artistic portfolios as fresh new graduates of OCAD University. By freelancing, assisting on bigger projects, and growing their own brands and businesses, they faced difficulty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon hearing about First Capital’s student and alumni mural competition on equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) in our Yonge & Roselawn neighbourhood, they were immediately interested.

The theme sparked their creativity and left plenty of room for interpretation. They were confident in their abilities to produce a quality mural reflective of their differing cultural backgrounds. Their decision to work together was easy – not only were the three friends from OCAD, but they’d previously won a similar competition that had been canceled due to the pandemic last year. This was their chance at redemption, to prove themselves once again, and to showcase their artistic skill and talent.

Anastasia Tarkhanova:

A versatile artist and designer specializing in digital art and indoor murals. People, music, nature, and new projects are what sparks her inspiration. Anastasia moved from Russia at the age of 19 to study at OCAD U, pursuing her artistic dreams .
Zuna Amir:

A multidisciplinary artist with an emphasis in illustration and animation. Finding inspiration from her surrounding environments, Zuna immigrated from Pakistan with her family several years ago. She also owns a clothing line called The Shared Brand.
Ashlyn Mundy:

Enjoys drawing, painting, and printmaking, while exploring new illustration mediums and playing with textures. Born and raised in rural Ontario, Ashlyn moved to Toronto at the age of 17 to begin her studies at OCAD U.

As they began brainstorming ideas and possible designs, their main objective was to bring the Yonge & Roselawn neighbourhood to life. Differing from Toronto’s bustling downtown core, they knew this neighbourhood had more of a community-like feel, consisting of a diverse population, local businesses, friendly dog walkers, and growing families. Out of the three artists, Anastasia lives in the neighbourhood with her boyfriend, and is a regular at the local coffee shops. As a Russian immigrant, it is stories like hers that create the wonderfully diverse community at Yonge & Roselawn.

Working virtually during the creative process, their goal was to make the mural as cohesive as possible, attempting to avoid it looking as though three individuals had worked on it. Using paint as their artistic medium, they decided on a 2D/flat image given the competition’s time constraint. Accounting for the large space (50ft long by 14ft high), they developed a striking colour palette to capture the eye from afar. Sending designs back and forth, their differing areas of expertise and creative opinions, coupled with their comfortability to be frank with one another, ultimately proved to be a recipe for artistic success.

From March to April, the three worked diligently to meet the proposal due dates upon each round’s progression. Although confident in their mural, they grew nervous as they couldn’t gauge their competition, meet the other contestants, nor review their entries – a truly suspenseful moment for the trio.  

Not long after did Anastasia, Zuna, and Ashlyn find out the exciting news of being the chosen winners of First Capital’s mural competition. With this win in their back pocket, it ultimately marked the next major milestone in their careers.

You work so hard and are hopeful, and then once you get it, it’s extremely rewarding

– Anastasia

Throughout the month of June, Anastasia, Zuna, and Ashlyn began hand-painting the mural onsite in the Yonge & Roselawn neighbourhood. Since they had never really worked on something of this size and scale, seeing the large blank wall in person was a bit overwhelming at first – far bigger than their small computer screens. Despite their nerves, they all agreed how refreshing it felt to socialize and work with others again, following Ontario’s third lockdown.

On site, the team was delighted by the vibrancy and inviting atmosphere, receiving daily greetings from the locals and free meals from the onsite food truck, Home Appliances Food Co. Not only does the mural beautify the area, but the three believe it creates a community gathering place. They recall one woman saying that the sight of the mural had brightened her day, and another stopping to read a book against the new mural backdrop.

Overall, Anastasia, Zuna, and Ashlyn are extremely proud of their final work of art and are positive that it’ll only bring them more success going forward – growing their careers, portfolios, and artistic ability. They all agreed that after working on this incredible outdoor mural at Yonge & Roselawn, they see themselves working together again and on something similar. Above all else, they take pride in how they have beautified a piece of their community, and that their work is on display for their friends, family, and neighbours to see.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to current and former students in the arts?

Keep on trying for as many opportunities because the worst thing you’re going to hear is no… so keep putting yourself out there

Zuna

Follow your heart and do what you want because someone is going to hate it… Also, say yes to things you might not be sure about… Look at us now

Ashlyn

Just keep producing because I believe it’s better to not have opportunity but be ready, than not be ready but have opportunity… so if you know you can do it and you continue to apply for things, you could be chosen in a second and you don’t want to be overwhelmed when that happens… Also, networking; for me, it’s not necessarily how talented you are, it’s who you know because people want to work with people they know. Keep talking to people because you never know who you’re going to meet or where it’s going to take you

Anastasia

We couldn’t be prouder of these three amazing artists and look forward to seeing their continued success in the future! We congratulate them on their well-deserved win in our ED&I-themed competition, and for their work-of-art featured proudly in our Yonge & Roselawn neighbourhood. To learn more about the artist and their portfolios, head to their websites and socials below:

Anastasia Tarkhanova

Personal & Art Portfolio
Web: https://www.anatarkhanova.com/
IG: @anastasia.art

Zuna Amir

Personal & Art Portfolio
Web: https://zunaamir.com/
IG: @zunaamir.art

Shared Brand
Web: https://thesharedbrand.com/
IG: @thesharedbrand

Ashlyn Mundy

Personal & Art Portfolio
Web: https://ashlynmundy.format.com/
IG: @ashlyn.mundy.art

To see the mural in person, head to 2440-2444 Yonge Street, and for more information on our arts program check out our Explainer podcast here.

In our Tenant Spotlight series, we’re featuring the tenants that help shape our neighbourhoods and urban communities. Today’s spotlight is on a baking power couple from Edmonton who started their fresh doughnut business at a local farmer’s market and turned it into a destination spot for city dwellers and country folk alike. Meet the amazing owners of Edmonton Brewery District’s Doughnut Party, Matthew Conrad and Simon Underwood who are dominating the city’s pastry industry and revolutionizing the doughnut with their unique combinations.

Growing a small business is never easy, especially when leaving behind a career and a sense of job security. Ten years ago, Matthew found himself with a choice – to stay employed as a schoolteacher or take the risk and invest 100% of his time in his doughnut business. Though he was between teaching positions at the time, the uncertainty and risk of starting a small business was a leap out of his comfort zone.

Growing up, Matthew’s family loved to cook and bake, making him very comfortable and confident in the kitchen. Being in this environment, he was always surrounded by food, especially fresh dough. After honing his craft in his home kitchen between teaching positions, he began baking for friends and family; doughnuts proving to be the clear fan favourite. It was one of those friends that offered him a spot at their local farmer’s market to sell his already highly sought-after doughnuts. Upon opening Doughnut Party at the farmer’s market, the business grew exponentially, happily surprising both he and his partner Simon. They soon realized the major gap in the market as freshly baked doughnut shops were all but non-existent in Edmonton – aside from the local Tim Horton’s.

Matthew describes Edmonton as “a big city with a small-town mentality… when something happens here, everyone knows about it, and everyone is loyal”.

To keep pace with the growth, Simon began investing 100% of his time into the business. Working together, their differing idealistic versus realistic minds made the perfect match.

We’re partners in business, and partners in life 

– Matthew

With their continued success at the farmer’s market, the pair knew the next big step was a retail store. However, they first needed to perfect their recipe. Both attended various doughnut universities in New York, Kansas, and California. After comparing lessons learned from the top doughnut institutions in America, they created their ultimate recipe. The same recipe is used today and includes two secret ingredients that are still in the mix today!

In January 2017, the pair opened their first brick-and-mortar store, signing a short-term lease not far from Edmonton’s downtown core. The location wasn’t ideal as it was on a back street with minimal vehicle and foot traffic and limited parking. Despite its downfalls, Matthew and Simon thrived on social media, which drew crowds of hungry customers on opening day. From day one, their customers instantly fell in love with their vast selection of elaborate and unique flavours. After a few successful years, their lease was nearing its end. They had quickly outgrown the space and began looking for something more walkable, popular, and accessible.

Enter the Edmonton Brewery District, First Capital’s mixed use shopping centre on 104 Avenue NW, which checked all their boxes. Simon and Matthew loved its historic architecture, proximity to their home and previous location, the wide variety of quality small businesses, the abundance of parking (above and below ground), and overall neighbourhood synergy. Above all else was its central location in Edmonton, as they needed a flagship kitchen that could serve their current baking needs and service future satellite locations. This strategic kitchen placement would ultimately save on the overhead costs of individual kitchens at their smaller locations. It was clear that Edmonton Brewery District was the perfect fit!

Nearing the end of construction and grand opening preparations coming together, the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the pair were forced with a harsh reality – the success of Doughnut Party was at risk. To make matters worse, their first satellite location in Edmonton’s Ritchie neighbourhood had opened just six weeks before the onset of the pandemic, and province-wide lockdowns forced them to close. A few months later, case counts began to drop and they were able to officially open their first headquarters/flagship store in the Edmonton Brewery District in June 2020. Matthew and Simon were immediately overwhelmed by the success of the opening despite the pandemic!

Throughout the pandemic, the pair has found it particularly difficult to navigate through all the uncertainty. Since opening, they’ve adapted and survived the waves of lockdowns and physical distancing measures by creating the Doughnut Party contactless delivery service. Their goal was to make their beloved customers feel completely safe, while still being able to enjoy their one-of-a-kind doughnuts in the comfort of their own homes.

We called it the ‘Doughnut Party pivot’

– Matthew

This month (June 2021), Matthew and Simon are celebrating their one-year anniversary at the Edmonton Brewery District. Despite opening during the pandemic, they’ve seen tremendous success and couldn’t be happier to call Brewery their new home and headquarters. The synergy they felt upon their initial visit of the property has only grown since their time here. Loving the Brewery District’s environment, they’ve befriended several of their neighbouring tenants, including Takiwa Ramen. Not only are they pleased with their new flagship store, but they would recommend it to any small business looking to grow their brick-and-mortar presence.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to jump into starting their own business?

Know that things aren’t going to come to you, it does require a lot of hard work… Put yourself out of your comfort zone, teach yourself, learn, and do things that you didn’t expect or weren’t part of the plan

– Matthew

The story continues for Matthew and Simon. Using the Brewery District location as their baking headquarters, they plan on opening more satellite stores around Edmonton. In their future plans, they’ll be looking into new neighbourhoods, building on their social media strategy that helped grow their business initially. With the incredible success of Doughnut Party thus far, Matthew and Simon are hopeful and optimistic for the future of their business. In celebrating their one-year anniversary at the Edmonton Brewery District, they’re reflective on what this milestone represents, especially in such a trying year for small businesses. Matthew believes that if they’ve been able to survive and even thrive through this pandemic, they can get through anything.

Here at First Capital, we couldn’t be prouder of their success and look forward to seeing what’s next for these two amazing entrepreneurs. To learn more about Doughnut Party, check out their website and Instagram. Congratulations Matthew and Simon on your one-year anniversary at the Edmonton Brewery District!