Balzac’s grand opening celebrations

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Photo by Jackie Vang

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters in Waterloo recently hosted their grand opening in celebration of their newest cafe, located at 256 Phillip Street. The Waterloo location, which is found in close proximity to the UW plaza, opened up almost a year ago.

“We just did a very belated grand opening. I think it was almost a year to the date that we opened and it was just nice to bring people from the community and some of the local dignitaries,” said Diana Olsen, president and founder of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters.

The grand opening took place in the form of two parts — the first, which happened on Thursday Oct. 4, 2018. The private, evening event was attended by Dave Jaworsky, mayor of Waterloo and Berry Vrbanovic, mayor of Kitchener. Olsen was also present at the event, where she presented the Button Factory and the University of Waterloo Robots Team with $1000 donations in support of Waterloo’s local art and tech sectors.

Following the private day, Balzac’s handed out free coffee throughout the day to customers, when they also raised $500 for the food bank.

“When we do openings we try and tie it in with some of the organizations that we like to support,” Olsen said. “It kind of works for everybody. It’s nice when we can do an event and also help some organizations in the process.”

Olsen opened the first location in 1996 in Stratford, Ontario. Since then, she has expanded the company, opening up 14 different locations — Waterloo’s being the most recent addition.

When looking to expand in Waterloo, Olsen said that the location on Phillip Street offers close proximity to students, while also being secluded from the traffic and business on University Avenue.

“We don’t like to be on crazy high traffic streets, part of the cafe experience is to be able to relax and be in a more quiet environment. But it’s good to be within a short walking distance from high traffic areas,” she said.

For Olsen, she hopes that students and others in Waterloo will take the few extra steps it takes to get to Balzac’s from the main plaza.

“We really pride ourselves on the quality of our coffee and the freshness of it. For me it’s worth walking that extra block to get a really good cup of coffee as opposed to just a sub-standard cup of coffee,” Olsen said. “I think students are very savvy to good coffee and good quality teas and coffee … they’ve become foodies, the millennials, and so they appreciate what we do.”

Balzac’s uses all organic milk and dairy products in their drinks, and provides alternative dairy options, such as oat milk, to those who come to their cafe to experience drinking fresh coffees.

“It’s just a nice atmosphere it kinda takes you out of your day to day-life and it transplants you into a vibrant cafe atmosphere which is kind of a nice break and we all need that break,” Olsen said.

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