By Charlie Senack
After a tough few years with the COVID-19 pandemic, Westboro Village is bouncing back with new businesses looking to make their mark on the neighbourhood.
The Westboro Business Improvement Area (BIA) says vacant storefronts on Richmond Road’s main strip are quickly filling up with new tenants who are eager to enrich the flavour of the community.
“We have been watching with excitement as more leased signs have appeared on windows. Businesses have begun the process of fitting up their new spaces,” said Westboro BIA Executive Director Judy Lincoln. “Seeing so many new businesses open in Westboro Village since the spring has been wonderful. Each new business brings something unique to the street and the community. We hope everyone enjoys getting out to explore and find a new favourite.”
Over the spring and summer, a number of new businesses opened. One of Westboro’s newest tenants is COBS Bread, which opened its third franchise location in Ottawa at 414 Richmond Rd. The space was leased back in the fall of 2019, but because of pandemic delays, it only opened in May of this year.
“I came to Canada as an immigrant in 2014 and I went to Westboro. I was immediately in love with the area,” said Westboro COBS franchise owner Ayman Elkerdany. “One of my childhood dreams was opening a bakery, so I went to the franchise and picked this location.”
That dream now a reality, Elkerdany says business has been steady with Kitchissippi residents coming in to taste a variety of baked goods.
“Step inside and you will have an open mouth and a falling jaw,” he said. “We start baking from scratch every day. Our most famous product is our sourdough products. We have great scones as well. Any products we don’t sell we donate to charity.”
Down the street at 117 Richmond Rd., a new gift shop has opened, stocked with locally and Canadian-made products.
Copper Alley Gifts owner Lefa Nowerman says they chose Westboro because of its charm and character.
“I managed a store that was kind of similar to this in Canmore, Alberta about 10 years ago. It’s always been a dream of mine to kind of do something similar,” she said. “We moved to Ottawa about eight years ago, and Westboro has always been a neighbourhood that I loved.”
First opening at the beginning of July, Copper Alley Gifts is stocked with natural body-care products, home decor items, hats, glassware, jewelry, novelty items and more.
“I think we are a little unique. We try to carry a little bit of everything,” said Nowerman.
On Aug. 5, Presotea opened at 352 Richmond Rd. The bubble tea franchise says Westboro has a unique demographic which could benefit from their presence in the community.
“Bubble tea has been around for a long time. I remember going for it after high school or even university. But I think it is now becoming well-known in the general population,” said co-owner Kelly Choi. “Based on our research, there are no bubble tea shops in this area, and we thought this would be a great place for high school students and kids who don’t drink a lot of coffee.”
The new local bubble tea shop also offers fruit slushies and has a number of drink toppings, including pearls (made out of tapioca) and jelly bobas.
With life getting back to normal, Lincoln suspects more businesses will continue to move into Westboro.