Diana Olsen doesn’t make it down to Stratford as often as she used to but, after only a few hours in the city, says it’s easy to remember that the success of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters is intrinsically linked to the supportive community where she established her first coffee shop.
Visiting Stratford to celebrate the increasingly popular coffee company’s 25th anniversary, Olsen, president and founder of Balzac’s, said she began roasting coffee out of a garage in Toronto in 1994. Since then, she has gone from selling it out of a kiosk at Ontario Place, the Royal Winter Fair and Toronto’s Harbourfront to operating 15 locations scattered from Niagara-on-the-Lake all the way up to Kingston.
“Jim (Chapryk) and Allan (Watts), the owners (at the time) of Anything Grows (formerly based in Stratford), were at the Royal Winter Fair … and they said, ‘You should come to Stratford,’” Olsen recalled. “I came, and the first spot I looked at was (the one we’re in), and I was like, ‘OK, I’ll take it.”
Once she opened her first Balzac’s coffee shop in Stratford in 1996, Olsen said she was blown away by the support and guidance offered by the city’s business community, specifically by the city’s female entrepreneurs. To continue reading, please click here.