Popular Inuvik cafe owners leave town

Andy and Rania Crowther, the couple behind Bon Café, left for Calgary earlier in the week

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The owners of a local fan favourite café packed up and left town earlier this week, leaving a hole in Inuvik’s Arctic Market scene that will be tough to fill.

Andy and Rania Crowther, the couple behind Bon Café, set up shop at the Arctic Market three years ago, after the couple decided to combine their barista and pastry-making experiences.

“It was a hobby that just got bigger because no one else was doing a coffee business,” said Andy.

The two were regular vendors at the town’s Arctic Market events, and were a hit amongst community members, who fell in love with the café’s homemade macarons and $5 Starbuck-esque espresso drinks.

Their menu was made up of a colourful assortment of beverages, which included lattes of the caramel, nutella, pumpkin spice and matcha-green-tea varieties.

During their final visit to the Arctic Market on April 6, the couple faced endless waves of visitors who lined up for hours on end just to buy one final cup of coffee from the two.

“I guess we know who our customers are. We enjoy seeing them every weekend and they come out to support us. Some of them came out to say goodbye,” said Andy.

Rania (left) and Andy Crowther launched Bon Café three years ago, a cafe that specializes in pastries and espresso. The two left Inuvik earlier in the week for Calgary, leaving their behind their business as well. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo
Rania (left) and Andy Crowther launched Bon Café three years ago, a cafe that specializes in pastries and espresso. The two left Inuvik earlier in the week for Calgary, leaving behind their business as well. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo

The couple came to Inuvik from Vancouver five years ago when Andy found full-time work at the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. Two years before working as an education assistant at East Three Elementary School, Rania would stay at home and experiment with pastry recipes.

“When we moved here, I didn’t have my work permit and I was just playing in the kitchen, making gelato for my husband… When we started, we just wanted to get feedback and practice flavours,” Rania said.

To make extra money on the side while Rania searched for work, the two began selling macarons and gelato at the Arctic Market during Bon Café’s first year of service.

In their second year of business, the pair decided to throw coffee into the mix, thanks to Andy’s experience working as a barista during his college days.

“After the baking started to sell really good, we thought we’d add coffee. I know how to make espressos and lattes, so we just added that to it,” Andy said. “There isn’t a coffee shop in town, so it was a niche that we could fill.”

But after the couple left for Calgary at the beginning of the week, that niche is once again open for business.

“Anyone can start a cafe I think. Just as long as you have some training and you’re willing to make coffees,” Andy said.

Andy landed a job with the Government of Alberta as an occupational health and safety officer, while Rania is heading back to school to get her teaching certificate from the University of Calgary.

However, the couple said parting ways with Inuvik wasn’t an easy decision for them to make.

“We loved it. We loved meeting people and watching them as they grew up,” Rania said. “I remember most of their orders. It’s in my head.”

She emphasized she’ll miss the people the most, and Andy echoed her sentiments.

“Just seeing the people every weekend and chatting, catching up,” he said. “Friends, she’ll miss her kids at the school. Even this kind of stuff.”

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Aaron Hemens served as the editor of the Inuvik Drum from January to August 2019. He's responsible for reporting on everything Inuvik, from covering community gatherings and sporting events, to writing the weekly columns. He's a dedicated photographer who loves getting to know the town through the community members that he meets. He's originally from Ottawa, Ont., where he graduated from Carleton University's journalism program in 2018. He can be contacted at 867-777-4545 or at inuvikdrum@nnsl.com. You can check out his photos on his Instagram account: @aaron.hemens.

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