When Beatrice Weir came into the Sprouted Fig six years ago, she liked the soup so much that she jokingly said to her son, David Scarlatescu, 13 at the time, that if the café ever came up for sale, she would like to have it.
He remembered and this year, he gave his mother the Sprouted Fig Café and Bistro for her 50th birthday.
“I felt like he’d bought me my dream. There was an excitement and surprise that I have never experienced before,” said Weir, a trained nutritionist and masseuse, who had been coming back to the Sprouted Fig for the soup over the years.
“The soups were like what my grandmother used to make back home in Romania. My passion is helping people through medicine, my mother was a doctor, and good, home-style food is an important part of that.”
It was also an opportunity for mother and son, who consider each other as best friends, to work together.
“I was raised to have confidence and self-esteem. I’m a natural-born entrepreneur with a strong work ethic. If you don’t work hard, you don’t get anything done,” said Scalatescu, who dropped out of school early, even though he was a straight-A student, to pursue his own visions. His self-education included formal training in nutrition and his own businesses, starting at 15 with dog-psychology training.
“I had great teachers at school but school does not offer anything for entrepreneurs. You have to try different things when you’re young. My mother was my role model. I knew I wanted to own a business in a physical space and this was right for both of us,” he said.
He conducted the business negotiations and they took over Aug. 29.
“I remember once asking David what he wanted to be when he was older and he answered, ‘Be happy.’ That’s my goal, too,” Weir said.
“This is a happy place. There is so much enthusiasm. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas and make a note of my ideas.”
The plans are to keep the Sprouted Fig’s proven favourites, the popular soups, sandwiches and baking. Many people will be happy to know that the unique cappuccino shortbread is still available.
New ideas will be introduced as they arise, according to customer requests and will include things like gluten-free options. The catering business will remain the same and work-place lunch delivery remains in demand.
Weir and Scarlatescu gave staff members the option of staying or going and are happy to have both familiar and new staff to serve customers.
They give a lot of credit to chef Lisa Taylor for her superior products.
They also appreciate the staff family of Morgane Lemesle, who brings experience from her family bakery in France, as well as Carly Bouzane, Calmsky Dunstan, Kailee Duggan and Denica Hickson.
Scarlatescu and Weir also work, doing whatever is needed from front counter to cleaning, and run the café on Saturdays.
“Things are going great and there is incredible support from the community. It is great to be able to cooperate with the other downtown businesses,” Scarlatescu said.
“Everything we do, we do for our customers. My mother was raised to think that the customer is king and she taught me to think the same way.
“We want to continue an old-school European tradition.”
Part of the good food and happy customers is the reliance, wherever possible, on local ingredients.
Community participation is also important.
There are paintings by local artists, currently exhibiting the work of Samantha Hesketh, on the walls and Paint and Sip art classes will take place once month.
“Another dream of mine is to have local artists of all kinds, including music, perform or do demonstrations, with time to meet and talk to the artists,” said Weir.
“This is a place where many people can be happy, as we are.”