New business welcomed downtown with open arms

Cathy Dobson

This is a tale about how one new Sarnia business caught on thanks to the efforts of another small business.  It’s about downtown rejuvenation and how a business community helps itself by helping newcomers.

Nadia and Constantine Arvanitis opened the Under Wraps Café at 108 Christina St. three months ago.

They describe it as a soft opening, meant to work out the kinks. For the first two or three days the pace was quiet.  Then a partner with the Refined Fool Brewing Company walked in from around the corner.

He ordered a burrito and met the Arvanitis, a couple who moved from Toronto with their three little girls to “put down roots,” as Constantine says.

They clicked.  The Refined Fool partner returned to work and began sharing on social media how much he liked Under Wraps Café.

“Before he walked in, we had 100 likes on Facebook. Overnight we were up another 200,” said Constantine.  “That’s incredible.”

The queue rapidly grew to buy lunchtime burritos and fresh ground Intelligentsia coffee at Under Wraps. It’s not uncommon for the lineup to reach the door.

“I think 100% our association with The Refined Fool did it for us. I love those guys,” said Constantine.

The two businesses continue to promote one another in more subtle ways, like wearing one another’s T-shirts. Refined Fool coasters sit by the cash register at Under Wraps.

“We’ve felt nothing but support from downtown,” said Constantine.  “Other businesses send business here. They come themselves as customers.”

During the year or so when he and Nadia were deciding what kind of restaurant to open in Sarnia, they went to area business owners and asked their opinion.

“At the Cheeky Monkey music store just up the street, Mary Anne said Sarnia needed Mexican at a reasonable price,” he said. “Others said the same thing.  We saw there’s a market here.”

Under Wraps Café specializes in five varieties of burritos. Each is made to order in an open kitchen, like a Mexican subshop, said Constantine.

He projected sales in the first few months of 50 burritos a day, but demand has been twice that.

“It’s crazy. Everyone is coming in. Families, kids, adults, older people. Everyone is hearing about us and it has a lot to do with the guys at Refined Fool.”

POSTERS FOR CHARITY

Hundreds of promotional music posters are on sale at The Cheeky Monkey record store to raise money for Sick Kids hospital.

The local music store is helping Chris Gormley with the band “Daylight for Deadeyes” raise money for the children’s hospital in Toronto.  A toonie buys a small one and $5 buys a medium or large poster until Aug. 30.

The Cheeky Monkey is at 130 Christina St. North.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or call 226-932-0985.