In our first edition of the Small Business Spotlight, I had the chance to sit down with the two lovely owners of Kingston Road’s hippest coffee house to chat about small business, creative community and really, really good coffee.
If you’ve been to Madhüs then you already know that the warm & welcoming presence, competition-worthy espresso, exceptional music and general lovely vibe is all thanks to Kendra + Byram, the masterminds behind this Upper Beach gem.
Madhüs opened in February of 2014. In fact, the lease for their location became available on the very day that Kendra said goodbye to her day job (serendipity? I think so!). They opened Madhüs out of a love of community and wanted locals to have a home away from home – a place with really good energy that felt both inspiring and welcoming. As artists themselves, they especially wanted to enable people to express their creativity in their space (and of course enjoy their really good coffee and home cooking!). What started out as Kendra pursuing her dream became Byram’s “adopted child” and is now very much a labour of love for both of them.
As locals (they live a couple of blocks away), they had long felt the need for a place like Madhüs – which didn’t exist in the Upper Beach. They longed for a creative space with local art and photography hung on the walls as well as great live music in their own neighbourhood. They knew they couldn’t be alone. Judging from the happy people that have filled their space since they opened – it’s clear they were right!
For Kendra, what makes this place so special is how phenomenally it has exceeded her expectations: customers have become family. Along the way, they’ve also amassed a solid team of friends, family and staff who help make Madhüs the warm and friendly place it is. For Byram, it is especially gratifying to see people get creative and inspired in their space (I can attest – it’s happened to me!). They have a customer who has proclaimed that she, “has to come in here to write poetry” and another who comes in every day to work on her novel because it’s the only place she can write. It’s like a twenty-first century Parisian salon. According to Byram:
“Art is underestimated in its ability to influence us as both individuals and community. It’s part of the ergonomics of how people move and feel – in 100 years it will be more a part of our lives.”
Having two teenage daughters, Kendra stressed how important it is for young people to be involved in music & art. In fact, it also influenced their decision to open a coffee house rather than a bar – they wanted the next generation to feel welcome there as well. In fact, they have hosted open mic nights for the under 18 set and has featured both music and spoken word. Kendra’s own daughter has performed with her guitar.
They strongly believe that small businesses shifts the focus away from corporate culture and back to community – spending face-time with our friends and family and supporting each other in our creative endeavors. In Kendra’s words,
“It’s the authenticity of it – everything we do is from the heart.”
Small businesses build communities and make them healthier, more sustainable and frankly more enjoyable for those that are part of it. They promote a healthier environment for people to raise their families and are inclusive of the diverse members of their community.
“There’s a certain honesty and transparency about owning a small business. We share and help each other out – in fact the other day the folks over at Stone Pizza ran out of red peppers and they came over to us to help them out. We look out for each other.”
If you haven’t been to Madhüs yet, the Madhüs Mini Sessions on October 4th is a great reason to check it out. Lisa Tait Photography is proudly partnering with them to offer a day of photography Mini Sessions in the café, culminating in an exhibition at Madhüs a month later. Check out this page for more information…there are only a few spots left!