Omar Fares loves chocolate. Still, that’s not the only reason he launched his new café, A Thing for Chocolate, at 1262 Wellington St. W. on January 8.
“I like talking to people. Playing with chocolate is an added bonus,” laughs Fares.
A Thing for Chocolate specializes in regular and gluten-free crêpes, both savoury and sweet. A signature blend of organic, fairly traded, locally roasted coffee and a selection of loose leaf teas complement the food offerings.
Of course, there’s chocolate, including a chocolate fondue, Fares’ handmade chocolates and baked goods, and a chocolate spread that he uses in the house crêpes and sells by the jar.
The focus on crêpes, chocolate, and coffee came naturally. Fares learned the art of making and serving all three when he started working at a café near the French embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in 1999. Fares, a business administration graduate who’s also studied mathematics, worked summers in the food service industry as a youth before moving on to management positions in some top restaurants in Beirut, Dubai and Montreal.
Fares and his wife and kids moved to Ottawa just over four months ago, deciding it would be a good family friendly city in which to settle. Fares says he was “very lucky” to have found the perfect spot in West Wellington for his café.
“I’m very, very pleased that I chose this place. There’s something worth being here 12 hours a day – very nice people, a lot of support,” explains Fares. “People are getting to know us, and we’re building friends and relationships.”
Fares had almost given up hope of finding a suitable site when he came across the building that now houses his café. It wasn’t pretty, but he saw the potential.
“It’s an old house and this is exactly what I was looking for. It adds to the charm of the place, being an old house, and I wanted a homey feeling,” says Fares.
He enjoys chatting with customers while he works.
“I love serving people. It’s something that I chose,” says Fares. “I love making good food, I love making good chocolate, and I have a feeling people sense and appreciate that, and appreciation is what gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
Fares says his work is never boring, and it’s allowed him to meet new people.
“That’s what gives life to what you do,” says Fares.