Melanie Robinson had the recipe for a unique food experience for Orillia — the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC) gave her the important ingredients to make it a success.

Melanie had left her job to pursue a career in the food business, so she approached the CDC to inquire about their mentorship program and to gather information on how to start the business.

The CDC staff were able to give her information specific to her career choice.

“That was very helpful,” Melanie says.

Since then, she says, they’ve been with her every step of the way. They were there when she started her catering business solo at the Farmers’ Market. They helped her hire a student that summer, and the CDC supported her when she opened the Eclectic Café inside the former Carousel Collectibles, along with four staff members. Most recently, they cheered her on when she moved into her own location at 39 Mississaga St. W. downtown Orillia, doubling her staff thanks to the CDC’s wage subsidy program.

“It is a small but mighty progression,” Melanie says, adding the CDC’s help with financial projections ensured the next phase of the business would be viable.

“They pointed me towards a loan to make sure the doors of the new location would open on time,” she explains.

Melanie is committed to showcasing and using local products to cook seasonal dishes, offering a new menu every month, and giving everyone a chance to meet the chef.

A similar face-to-face interaction with all CDC staff makes it easier for business owners to execute their dreams, she adds.

“Having that impartial person listening to your ideas and getting excited about it is really helpful,” Melanie boasts.

From here, she says her plans are only to go bigger.

“My ultimate goal is to have a restaurant/farm/camping retreat. That way, people can connect with nature, farming, and good food. So, the CDC may come into the picture again.”

And she has no doubt they will be ready to help her.

“They’ve highlighted me at every step,” Melanie says. “They are really committed to watching businesses flourish and making an impact in our community.”

For more information about Eclectic Café visit or call 705-330-0101.