Simon McRae and Darcy MacDonell would not have been able to fire up the wood grill at The Common Stove if the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC) hadn’t believed in them.
With Simon being new to the country, he didn’t have a local credit rating, which made it harder to convince banks to invest in the restaurant.
But the CDC, he says, was very open to the idea.
They looked at the business plan, gave feedback, and then provided an initial loan.
“The CDC can look at a project with a wider focus — not just reject you by looking at the financial history,” explains Simon. “They look at it from a community aspect.”
And that’s what the restaurant wants to promote: community. Where you can gather round the 18 sq. ft. wood-fired grill at the center of the main street restaurant located at 27 Mississaga St. W. downtown Orillia.
“We believe it’s pretty much the best way to cook anything,” says Simon. “It was mankind’s first method of doing so and it generates great flavour throughout the food.”
In addition to this, the restaurant’s philosophy is to source produce and meat locally.
“The whole idea of the wood-fired grill is completely new to this area,” he says. “That’s why we’re very particular with the precision of the service. Our hospitality is a huge part of our tradmark.”
Simon and Darcy opened the restaurant just a few days before the Covid-19 pandemic forced everything to shut down. And when that happened, they had to lay off all but one of their 21 employees, says Simon.
“We’re delighted to have bought back so many of our original team now that we’re back open inside the restaurant and and on our patio,” he adds.
From opening to re-opening, says Simon, the CDC has provided support in various ways.
“They were quick to step up and provide guidance & help in applying for pandemic-related government support. And they also provided follow-up advice, loans, and promotions through their own channels,” says Simon.
“I probably wouldn’t have been able to do what I wanted to do here without the help of the CDC,” he says. “It would have been a smaller concept in a different location, which would have been disappointing.”
For more information about The Common Stove visit www.thecommonstove.com or call 705-330-0065.