The founders of Felice Café, a new café and market located near Commonwealth Stadium, are hoping their love for local is infectious.
Felice (the musical term for "happy"), which opened on April 25, is the brainchild of couple Michelle and Tim Brouwer.
In addition to serving drinks and treats, Felice features a market where local vendors can display and sell their products for a flat monthly fee. This support of entrepreneurs extends to allowing participating businesses to access a devoted loft space at Felice where they can network, have meetings, and host classes.
"I just wanted to create a place where local businesses can come together and support each other better," said Michelle Brouwer. "Across my vendors, under this one roof, the support they're offering each other is overwhelming."
So far, Felice has partnered with 20 local companies, ranging from food to personal goods. The café side will serve locally-sourced products to enjoy on-site, in addition to housing items from the same brands for customers to buy for at-home consumption. The companies include Bakenary, Benny's Bread, Caramunchies, DRTY Ice Cream, The Cove Tea Company, Mala Foods, Mama Han Pastries, Maestro's Empanadas, and On the Edge Coffee.
"We purchase items wholesale and don't rebrand," said Brouwer. "We sell everything under that local business's name. We want them to increase their sales, and assume the food wastage costs on our end."
Felice is the Brouwer's first foray into food and hospitality and came as a result of the pandemic.
"I was raised in an entrepreneurial family as my mom owned a local home decor store," said Michelle Brouwer. "I worked in health care and never owned a business before. I took stock of my life during COVID and thought about my passions. Music and love of local were the main things. A café seemed to fit the model where I could wrap all of these passions in."
With 3,100 square feet of space, Felice has ample room for its owners' ambitions. Inside there are 35 seats, and outside two patios are currently under construction, with licensing in process. "You can have your coffee in the sun in the morning and beer in the sun in the afternoon," said Brouwer.
In the near future, a series of after-dark events under the Felice Noir banner will offer entertainment.
"We have a professional sound system that musicians can plug into and play," said Brouwer. "Anyone who wants to perform — musicians, slam poets, comedians — will have an opportunity. We love local talent and wanted to give them another avenue."
The café is located at Stadium Yards, a rental development built by Rohit Communities. In February 2020, Rohit organized a high-profile competition called "The Cut" to fill the commercial unit, but the pandemic ultimately sidelined the winner of that contest. When the Brouwer's original space fell through, they were overjoyed to come across the unit at Stadium Yards, and thought it fit well with their vision.
"Rohit really wanted a community-focused business that serves the community," said Michelle Brouwer. "It's kind of a food desert in this area. We want to be that community anchor and hangout spot."
Brouwer shared that the young professionals that make up most of the tenants at Stadium Yards are their target demographic, and in recent weeks, many residents have expressed excitement about the forthcoming opening. But she said Felice also hopes to attract Edmontonians from elsewhere, too.
"It's close to public transportation," said Brouwer. "It's close to the stadium. People who park nearby and are going to an event will stumble upon us."
Brouwer believes that Felice represents some of the best of what Edmonton has to offer. "Felice was born out of a love of wanting to support local, and I think we need more of this. All of my vendors are sharing their passions. It's infectious."