By Kyle Reid
Business community pours on help for Coffee Matters
Members of the Mount Pearl business community has been rallying around a fellow small business owner after a devastating fire at a Commonwealth Avenue strip mall put his café out of operation.
Coffee Matters owner Scott Hillyer said he is overwhelmed by the amount of support shown to him after the fire. Hillyer said he was forced to close his Mount Pearl location due to heavy smoke damage caused by the fire which originated on Sunday, April 1 at Elite Tattoo, next door to the coffee shop.
“Everyone was just calling me saying, ‘Scott what can we do?’” said Hillyer.
The co-owner of the café immediately began scrambling to find a new location to maintain his business operations. However, finding a suitable spot initially proved difficult.
“Two places came to mind right away,” said Hillyer, who noted the places were near other coffee shops and had non-compete covenants. Hillyer said another location he inquired about had recently been leased.
But, with the help of the City of Mount Pearl, Hillyer was quickly able to find a temporary location to re-open the Mount Pearl Coffee Matters in a small area attached to the Commonwealth Avenue North Atlantic. He is hoping to have the coffee pouring and the sweets in the oven in time to open shop this Friday.
“I have to say the City of Mount Pearl has been amazing,” said Hillyer. “They got on the phone and they started calling landlords and commercial buildings in the city and that’s how we found this spot.”
Sheila Merner, director of retail operations and development with North Atlantic, reached out to Hillyer after being contacted by the City. Merner said she had no hesitation with providing Hillyer with another location. Hillyer signed a six month lease on the space, but is only being charged four months’ rent.
“We just said that we’ve got to help out here,” said Merner. “The support team that Scott has, it’s been phenomenal.”
Hillyer said the new location will require a lot of cosmetic work before it opens this week. Fortunately, a number of local contractors have generously donated their time to help with the workload. Local businesses have also donated to the cause, aiding Hillyer in his time of need.
“Dream Kitchens are helping us put new cabinetry and countertops in and they’ve severely reduced the price on the cost of doing that,” explained Hillyer. “At the Paint Shop there’s a store credit waiting for us that we can use for paint or anything like that.”
The generous contributions are a return of good faith for a business that is active in the community. Through his business, Hillyer sponsors minor sports teams, supports community food initiatives and works to fundraise for those in need through community organizations like Choices for Youth.
Hillyer isn’t the only business owner who has been able to pick up the pieces following the fire. Hillyer said that other businesses affected by the fire have been fortunate enough to maintain operations by re-locating as well. Feltham and Associates Chartered Accountants are relocating to a space in O'Leary Avenue, and Jamie Day, the owner of Charmed Hair Salon, is moving to a Paradise strip mall near the Paradise Coffee Matters location.
“(Charmed Salon) found a space right beside me in Paradise, said Hillyer. “All of (Day’s) clients used to come into our coffee shop. He said it was like it was meant to be.”
Barkley’s Pub and the Mount Pearl RBC Branch are also expected to re-open this week in the strip mall, according to Hillyer. The Coffee Matters owner said he is expecting to have a grand re-opening celebration in the coming weeks to thank everyone who supported him through the difficult transition.
“I said to my children when this all happened, ‘There’s one thing I learned from this and it’s always be good to people,’” said Hillyer. “I’m seeing first hand — the goodness I gave people —it’s coming back to us two-fold.”