Local Cafe Re-Opens after Renovation with New Look and Vigor

Photo: Left to right, Chris, Xavier and Kevin Niles, in their family run bake shop and cafe Crumbs. (Photo by Jarod Farn-Guillette). 

By Jarod Farn-Guillette

There once was a time when Downtown, Calais had everything, a cafe included; then things changed. Nostalgia can be a dangerous addiction hindering our ability to deal with present reality, but it can also be a powerful force to bring back good things we've lost, such as a cafe. Nearing on their two year anniversary Kevin and Chris Niles of Crumbs Bakery and Cafe, fill a valuable niche needed downtown, and our city in general. Offering delicious homemade baked goods, robust sandwiches that make even the eyes water, fountain sodas and roasted coffees, is just a part of what the cafe offers: a place to meet, share ideas and grow. 

  Recently on the afternoon of January 27th , I sat down with Chris and talked about the recent renovations, current state of business and plans for the future of Crumbs. Sitting at a window seat with a view onto the street, watching the people pass-by, I too got a sense of nostalgia for my coffee shop days in Halifax at my usual haunt. Pleased the same setting is re-created nearer to home. Since the cafe's original opening in February 10th, of 2015, Chris states, business has gone, “surprisingly well.” With the steady support of regular customers, mostly comprised of nearby employees in the downtown core, plus the cafe's own comical regular, in a “Seinfeld” or “Friends” sense, that according to Chris is “very opinionated” and “super supportive” their “favorite customer” said with a chuckle. The renovations, done over two-weeks at the end of December and completed on January 10th, have according to Chris, been well received by his customers, and on the day of our conversation, evident by the satisfied expressions on the patrons in the store . With most work done by Kevin and Chris themselves, under the latter's design direction, the ceiling was redone with metal roofing, an elevated sitting table located in the center of the room near the counter and cash, made by Chris himself of barn boards, with funky over-sized incandescent bulbs from just up the street at the Urban Moose dangling above, creating an intimate and warm atmosphere. Other changes include lowered seating and tables and a better definition of space that provides for better flow inside the cafe. All welcome improvements by the regular customers and new alike. The result of the changes has lead to “younger people coming in — getting a coffee and hanging out.” Something they hoped when the cafe originally opened but never occurred  — until now. 

With the summer approaching Chris states that he and Kevin have even more plans for improvement and change. Placing ads from St. George NB to Bar Harbor ME, to attract people on a “rainy day to Calais” showing there is more to do here than you'd expect. Not just confined to the interior, the cafe plans to add an awning to the exterior of the building and offer street-side seating in the summer. Facebook also plays a huge role in reaching their customers, more so than any other advertising platform. An essential and instantaneous service for the small business, with “specials posted” on particular days. Great for getting out their message effectively. 

Ever thankful for the support from customers and City Hall, Chris and Kevin are examples of a small-town success story in downtown, Calais. Each business plays a vital role in its own way and Crumbs Cafe provides a much needed role in contributing to the vitality of the downtown. If you are ever in the neighborhood and looking for someplace to spend a few hours over a cup of joe or try and dig into an brimming sandwich, check out Crumbs Cafe & Bakery, a true family operation.