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Downtown Sydney café reopens 17 months after Fiona damage


Louann's Cafe in downtown Sydney, N.S., was first opened as a labour of love and a link to the past.

"Because it's named after my two grandmothers Louise and Ann,” said owner and operator Louann MacDonald, who is also named in honour of her grandmothers.

However, Fiona would change the course of her business venture. The 2022 post-tropical storm put an end to MacDonald’s time at her original location on Prince Street.

"I know they had roof damage, and then the water came in through,” MacDonald said. “So other than that, when that happened they closed the doors.”

The signs in the windows of the old location said she planned to reopen in January 2023, but it would take a lot longer, seventeen months, before she found a new storefront she could afford.

"I was up as far as Ashby, I was out to Sydney River,” MacDonald said. “I was everywhere downtown, walking and going around for months trying to find a place."

The new cafe is in a once-vacant building across from city hall.

CBRM councillor Cyril MacDonald says not only is that convenient, but it's good not to lose another small downtown business.

"It's one of those downtown businesses where I was certainly a regular,” MacDonald said. "All of those small mom-and-pop shops are really what's kept CBRM's downtown thriving, in my opinion. We're certainly not seeing the big-box stores like we're seeing in other municipalities."

"I wish I had more parking, but the customers will come and they'll find their way,” Louann MacDonald said of her new location.

There is potential for plenty of foot traffic though, when the new Nova Scotia Community College Marconi Campus opens downtown in fall 2024.

MacDonald said she also plans to eventually have more seating by adding on a patio.

The building is easy to spot with large whale paintings on its exterior, and that’s a detail that prompted MacDonald to issue a playful disclaimer about her menu.

"So I'm going to put it out there that it's not a fish-and-chips, because of the whale,” MacDonald said with a laugh. “The whale was there before I took the place, and the whale is going to stay."

The cafe is set to reopen March 4 at 9 a.m., when she will have a whale of a tale for customers.

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