Block 1912: A Comfortable Refuge in Old Strathcona
Wednesday February 25 , 2015
Located in the heart of Old Strathcona, Block 1912 serves as a comfortable refuge from the blazing summer days and the busy shuffle of Whyte Ave.
Walls hosting an array of local artist’s work, and eclectic furniture are some of the first things you notice, but other things like the passion it takes to run a small business, or the personal investment paid in full, lay under the surface.
I paid a visit to the European styled café in early August and sat down with a member of the family who keeps things running. Jorel Pepin has been balancing running the business with his personal life and studies but he doesn’t mind. He knows that having a business that has been as successful as this one, doesn’t just take luck, but “passion, opportunity and hard work.”
The tale of Block 1912 started back in the 90’s when Strathcona was already a hub, and a bustling centre of activity sporting cafes and delis. Starting a business is always difficult in the beginning and when times got hard, they took it upon themselves to find whatever furniture they could, and paint the walls themselves. Block 1912 fell together, to make something hard to recreate. ‘No franchise could emulate this,’ Pepin said.
Old Strathcona continues to grow, as the majority of the money stays local when driven by small business. Block 1912 is narrowing its focus to local suppliers and using ingredients from farmers markets to create a local initiative while simultaneously giving back to the community.
“We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t in this community. If we didn’t have the kind of people who appreciate this place, we wouldn’t be making it,” Pepin said of those he doesn’t refer to as customers but rather as friends.
Always growing and trying new approaches, Block 1912 is becoming an increasingly common name regardless of the occasion. Now making beautiful fondant cakes to order for weddings and birthdays, they also host live music, art shows, and this summer they’ll be holding 2 live Fringe shows upstairs.
A couple who met at the café are now having their wedding catered by the Cafe next summer, a truly unique way to recreate the experience of where they first met.
Block 1912 has something that everyone can appreciate. From decadent pastries dusted with gold, to Gelato made in house with authentic equipment shipped in from Italy, to quirky notes stuffed into coffee table drawers. Open late into the evening, it also gives those who aren’t into the bar scene somewhere else to go.
20 years have gone by, and Block 1912 is still standing today, becoming a fundamental part of Scrathcona because of the passion and dedication put in by owners who care, and the community who supports it. “If you don’t love it,” Pepin said to me, “It won’t work,” and how lucky we are that it does.
If you want to see more behind the scenes, follow them on Instagram at Block1912. And if you're wondering, that chocolate gold dusted pastry did taste as good as it looks.
Address:10361 82nd Ave Edmonton, AB
Mon - Sat 9 am – Midnight
Sun – 10 am to 11pm
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