Locally owned Sooke café set to close, but hope remains as community seeks ownership

Locally owned Sooke café set to close, but hope remains as community seeks ownership
Last week, the business took to its Facebook page to announce that it would soon be closing the doors to its café.

A beloved café in Sooke known for its famous “eggamajig” sandwich may be closing its doors soon unless it can drum up financial support in the form of community ownership.

Stick in the Mud has been a favourite with locals ever since it started roasting coffee back in 2007. But last week, 16 years, 16 days and 16 hours after it opened, owner David Evans took to Facebook to announce that it would soon be closing its doors.

The news prompted many in the community to reminisce about the fond memories they had at the café and offer suggestions on how to keep the business running.

Despite the advice, Evans later clarified in a statement that the closure was not due to financial struggles.

“Number one, we’re not a struggling business, we don’t need to find ways of saving money, or finding efficiencies. We’re good,” Evans said.

“This is just the end of the café chapter for me.  The business is well-run, profitable and a community staple and it’d be a shame to close it.”

Wendy O’Connor, a regular, can’t imagine what life in the town would be like without it.

If it closes, it would be such a loss,” she said during an interview with CHEK.

To her, Stick in the Mud is irreplaceable. “We don’t want a Starbucks, a Timmies. It doesn’t replace it. It’s just not the same feeling,” she said.

“It’s all the small stories. It’s the two ladies who play Scrabble every morning or the guy that goes in there at 2 o’clock to do calligraphy. We have three authors that go in there to write every day. It’s stuff like that, that needs to be talked about.”

In a later interview, Evans repeated O’Connor’s sentiment, saying he too felt like it served as more than just a coffee shop.

I intended it to be a community gathering place. I had people having wedding showers here, children having birthdays, we did something called Stick Fest every year, with jugglers and performers in the courtyard. There are so many great and memorable things that happened.”

The possibility of the closure has spurred some Sooke residents into action, with community members meeting Wednesday night to discuss purchasing the business and transforming it into a co-operative.

O’Connor says anyone is welcome and hopes there’s a bigger interest in making it happen.

We would like to see it become employee owned, and we would like it to be a living wage, for the employees. Is that feasible? I don’t know. We’re hoping people are going to show interest. Let’s go ahead and do it.”

The meeting is set to be held Wednesday, April 26 at the Sooke Library from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.


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