Back to the Grind coffee house has a new daily digital ritual
Dominique Tremblay has slotted social media nicely in that space between her daily coffee ritual and opening Back to the Grind, her coffee house in Kapuskasing.
“It's the first thing I do in the morning when I get up,” says the café owner. “I get all my posts ready for the day and I have it ready to go an hour before I open.”
Tremblay says she’s gotten in the habit over the course of the pandemic of posting two to three times daily “just so people don't forget.” Not that Back to the Grind is forgettable – having been there 22 years, the café has a long legacy in the community as the go-to coffee shop. Tremblay took it over two years ago and has been balancing preserving that spirit while updating the space and menu ever since.
“Before I owned this shop, it was my coffee shop that I went to,” she says. “I continually change things (but) we do things a little bit at a time.”
But coffee is something she won’t compromise on. “One of my staff members always says that people don't know what good coffee is until they try it and I think that’s totally true.” Back to the Grind sources its beans from Reunion Island coffee in Oakville. She says her focus on good coffee is often enough to pull visitors into town as they pass by Kapuskasing on the highway. “We don’t really have any direct competition.”
Instagram has been the go-to for out-of-towners looking to connect. But on the local level, Facebook seems to make more sense. Both fit into her wider strategy surrounding Back to the Grind’s digital presence, something she’s been working on with the help of a Digital Service Squad member from Digital Main Street, a program that combines grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario and the Ontario BIA Association to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities.
She’s focused her effort on developing the café’s website and building out the brand. “I wanted to refresh the logo and stuff like that,” says Tremblay. “I wanted it to better reflect my personal style.” Mobile optimization was also front of mind. Back to the Grind was able to tap into a $2,500 Digital Transformation grant through Digital Main Street to help support the rebrand.
“Now I just have to kind of keep the momentum going,” says Tremblay. Part of that is developing consistency with the business’ blog. “I had found a bit of a rhythm and then coronavirus hit and it kind of turned everything a little bit sour,” she says. “I'm thankful for it in a sense though, because it gave me the opportunity to implement a little bit more change and really sit down and look at my business and say, okay, this is how we’re going to do things from now on.”
Written by Andrew Seale
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
This case study was completed during a prior expansion of DMS in partnership with the Province of Ontario and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
In June 2020, a $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.