Little Brick received a warm welcome from the Riverdale community this past weekend — I can tell you because I had to line-up on both occasions I visited! Sister to Elm Café on 117 St/Jasper Ave and District Coffee Co. on 109 St in the downtown core, Little Brick is the fourth storefront of Nate Box’s growing empire of cafés and an expansion of his concept of bringing the community together over a cup of coffee. And like Burrow, located underground at the Central LRT Station, Little Brick is an example of a great space to be utilized as a coffee shop and a place for gathering.
Located on 100th Avenue and 90th Street, the heritage house was previously the home of brickyard owner J.B Little, an industry which once defined the Riverdale area. The firm’s original brick making machinery is now displayed at Fort Edmonton Park. For over a hundred years, Little’s descendants continued to live in the home, until the space was converted into a store and then turned over for rent. Upon discovering the under utilized space last summer, Nate Box alongside with partners Jay Downton of Oodle Noodle and Adam Rozenhart of Oilers Nation, the space has been converted into a café, general store, and a co-working space upstairs.
The front door of the house is actually situated towards the alleyway but is accessible from either entrances from the main street or behind the River Grande condominium. The interior is beautifully renovated, maintaining the home’s history with exposed brick walls in the general store and fireplaces dotted throughout the home. Descriptors like “quaint” and “cozy” are tossed around like no tomorrow at Little Brick! Modern touches of dark navy blue walls, white geometric accent chairs (recognizable from the old Elm Dining Room space), and painted white brick towards the back of the house keeps the space hip and cool.
Currently, the café is serving up Calgary-based roast Phil & Sebastian, baked goods from District Coffee Co., and a lunch menu similar to Elm Café and District until the space develops its own identity. As expected, the pastries and sandwiches are spot on and a popular hit with river valley explorers and the Riverdale community. You’ll have to fight for seating in the main café, a total of eight seats in the common area, although hopefully seating can be placed outdoors in the summer.
The general store at Little Brick is one of my favourite features of the space. A quick (and muchly appreciated!) tour by Nate Box revealed shelves lined with local products, such as organic Highwood Crossing from High River and Grainworks goods from Vulcan, products which are also used in their menus. You can also pick up coffeeware, like Chemex, Aeropress, and filters, kitchenware including custom ceramics made by Daniel Labutes from Calgary, and an assortment of bakeware. The fridge and freezer were being prepped at my initial visits, holding milk, butter, bacon, and house made frozen dinners and pie dough in the future for the community. My favourites though? Edible goodies, durh! Handmade marshmallows by Fiasco Artisan Gelato, salted caramels made in house (you need these in your life, right now), and Edmonton’s own Upson’s Classic Cordials.
Moving towards the back of the house lies the living room, a gorgeous fireplace flanked by two couches for additional seating. The room can also be used for private events, catering, and wedding parties, with an indoor capacity of 40. Nate hopes to utilize the outdoor space in the future, increasing the capacity to 75 or so, and hopes to host neighbourhood BBQs, burgers, and drinks on long patio tables.
What was the formal dining room now houses a long barn wood table, ample seating for ten and a great space for meetings and large gatherings. If I was still in school, this would be my study space! I loved watching the staff walking to and from the café towards the kitchen and watching the Riverdale residents exploring the home. On opening day, I had the pleasure of talking to a lot of locals in the community, most who thought I worked there because I had a laptop. Too cute! One couple loved the feel of the house and welcomed the extra foot traffic in the neighbourhood. They didn’t seem to mind additional vehicles parking alongside the residential streets either.
Since moving to the downtown core, the River Valley trails are more accessible to me more than ever. Personally, I find myself around the Glenora area (we all know about those death stairs), circling around Kinsmen Sports Centre and the Lower Level Bridge and looping back towards home or my alternative route, crossing the High Level Bridge towards the Strathcona area for some good eats. With either routes, I don’t ever seem to pass the Shaw Conference Centre and eastwards. The fact that Little Brick is tucked away in that corner of the river valley is enough to extend my route, even if bottles of Upson’s cordials might weigh me down.
Congratulations to Little Brick on a successful opening! If the amount of traffic that flowed through the space on my visits were any indication of the future, Little Brick will be a huge hit and a great destination in the middle of Edmonton’s beautiful River Valley! I’ll happily extend my walks and jogs in the River Valley to the east, just knowing that there’s a great space in the midst of my loop!Little Brick
10004 – 90 Street