In high school we are told to choose a career for the rest of our lives, when most of us can’t even decide what we want for dinner. Through trial and error, we eventually find our calling. Some of us fall into it, while others are thrown into it. This decision can be even more difficult to make when your family owns a business. It would be the understatement of the year to say that running a successful business is hard; especially being in Quebec where we are limited by language laws and higher tax rates. All that risk, hard work, and continual pressure to stay above rising costs isn’t for the faint of heart. You need thick skin to be in business and even thicker skin to be successful at it. Diandra Alzani was born into a family that knows coffee. Through her innovative ideas and modern approach she has succeeded in taking her family business to the next level: Le Café Crème 2.0.
The Café Crème story originally began many years before its first location opened in 1986. Diandra’s grandfather founded Italinox in the 1970s; a company which specialized in importing kitchen supplies and espresso machines (before #coffee was cool on Instagram). Sensing an opportunity to diversify the family business, Diandra’s father, Caesar Alzani, decided to open his first cafe on St-Hubert Street, followed by two other locations on Fleury Street and Victoria Avenue (Westmount). These cafes not only sold coffee and food, but also displayed the espresso machines and other products imported by Italinox. It was a unique proposition at the time, which allowed Café Crème to branch out into other areas of the coffee industry, all the while showcasing the variety of its portfolio.
Fast forward to 2017 and you will notice that Café Crème Fleury has evolved to keep up with current market trends. You won’t find any more espresso machines on their shelves, but there is a variety of imported goods including Bialetti coffee makers, espresso cups and other specialty Italian products. It is their coffee, however, that truly sets them apart. Café Crème serves an exclusive in house blend called the “Neapolitan” which is made from a top secret combination of coffee beans (real CIA kind of stuff). One taste and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about here. It has a unique flavour profile that can be described as intense and rich without being overly bitter. Café Crème also offers a breakfast and lunch menu which changes daily, from fresh pizzas to sandwiches and salads. While we there, we sampled some of their homemade desserts. Joey chose a pecan tartelette, which was satisfying and not too sweet. David, instead, opted for a Nutella stuffed madeleine; an interesting take on a classic French dessert. Most of their menu items can be found at all three locations; although the best way to stay informed about their daily specials is through Instagram.
Café Crème Fleury is an eclectic mix of old and new elements, which can be seen as a nod to its past with a consciousness towards innovation. Diandra’s involvement is crucial to this change; being a millennial, she is able to grasp the importance of social media and decor. While she makes an effort to keep up with current trends, Diandra has maintained an emphasis on core values, such as family. Café Crème’s design certainly reflects this ideology. Several black and white photos which were taken by her grandfather in the 1960s are hung along the main wall of the sitting area. Diandra has also made a collage with dozens of Polaroid pictures of her clients. It is clear that Café Crème values its customers and that they can be viewed as an integral part of its success. Her father Caesar certainly understands coffee and has the experience to back it up. Together, they form a team that is hard to beat, complimenting each other in areas which are at times defined by generational gaps. Through personal experience, we have come to learn that it is not always easy to work with family, especially when it comes to introducing change. We can tell however, that this father-daughter duo meshes well together.
At this point we both reflected on our own relationships with our parents. Who doesn’t remember when Facebook was first launched and how our parents constantly complained about our so-called addiction to the “internet”? Nowadays, baby-boomers have become accustomed to social media and some of them are on Facebook more often than we are! It is safe to say that social media has become a focal point in our ever evolving society and that millennials and baby-boomers alike understand its importance.
Bob Dylan famously said: “the times they are a changin’”. Café Crème is a perfect example of how one man’s vision can evolve into a diversified business, with three generations behind its name. In the business world, there are those who stagnate and those who choose to innovate. Caesar and Diandra Alzani have formed a partnership that is capable of foreseeing change and adapting to it. They have chosen to evolve; using coffee as their main building block – I guess you can say it’s a family thing.
David and Joey