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NW Calgary family-run café bets it all on a new outdoor patio

Everybody loves a picnic in the sun, but for a small family-run café in Brentwood it’s just not fun and games anymore.

Having just spent the last of their cash flow investing in a set of picnic tables for an outdoor patio space, Joyful Java Community Café is making its last stand.

“I think everybody’s having their difficulties during COVID and their situation,” said Jordan Smuszko, owner of Joyful Java.

“And in ours, it was just like ‘one last shot’, you know? We’re not mad or anything like that, but there’s just so many times you can pivot your business.”

Joyful Java opened five years ago in a former church-turned-community centre, with a focus on community and local businesses.

For Rachel Clare, one such community member, supporting local is extremely important.

“I live close to here and I’ve driven by a lot, so I’ve been meaning to stop by,” said Clare.

“I want to start supporting my local community more.”

According to Smuszko, due to their location, they really rely on area residents and post-secondary students for their business.

“We’re not really a location where people drop by to grab a coffee in the morning and then head out,” said Smuszko.

“Not having any university students has kind of crushed us because we were a huge study café.”

Ready for summer

With the recent restrictions re-imposed by the Alberta government, Joyful Java hopes that the patio will let them maintain their style of business. In fact, they had already been planning the patio space in anticipation of the summer months and were fortunate to have it ready in light of the announcement.

“Our whole customer base and the way we run our café, for the past five years, is a place where people can meet.”

“No one is coming here to snag a coffee and roll out; we don’t have a drive-thru or anything like that.”

Smuszko is hoping that Calgarians choose to stay in town and support local this summer.

“I think that’ll slingshot us right back into the next school year,” he said.

Joyful Java is located in The Village: Brentwood’s Lifestyle Centre, a hybrid community centre and local business hub started by Smuszko’s mother and aunt.

The Village houses more than 25 small businesses and organizations.

Joyful Java’s focus on local goes beyond the northwest as well, sourcing their coffee and tea from across Calgary. They also carry local products from surrounding areas.