By: Lori Wells, Chef/Owner of Café Mira –
Lisa Reed and I were working at Café Mira when the owners at the time had to make a move back to Germany. At the time the owners were still running the restaurant they were not connected to the community. When Lisa and I took over we had to woo the community back and little by little we were able to do so, much in part to a series of unfortunate events.
We were thrilled to be the owners of Café Mira as it is located in a historical building and an ideal spot in Adams. We are just a blip on the map and the local community is very important to our business. It took some coaxing to get customers to begin trusting the restaurant again. I have been cooking since my early 20’s and worked for many excellent restaurants. When we started our own venture we had to leave some of our best dishes behind us. This worked out in the end as it allowed us to create a menu that was truly unique. We avoided food trends other restaurants were all following allowing us to keep locals dining with us who might be tempted to travel to the city to dine. And now we are attracting people from surrounding cities who are coming to us.
We offer a fine dining concept in a very different setting. Much of the look of our restaurant is due to a fire that occurred a few years ago. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we were never quite happy with the look of the restaurant that was sort of a mish mash of designs that didn’t capture the historical details of the building. This is also a defining moment when the community stood behind us and showed us how important our customers were to help us succeed.
We took a completely historical approach to getting the restaurant back into shape using lighting that was appropriate as well as some unique features to accent the character of the building and bring it back to its original splendour. We were able to bring it back to the place it always should have been. The damage was quite devastating and one of the most heartbreaking areas was the old tin ceiling. My dad worked hard to get it back to its original glory and it looks amazing now.
We also added some details such as fireplaces and made huge improvements to our second floor. We were able to use torch fireplaces and create a balcony overlooking the area where we feature live piano music. There is an oval opening and railing above and we always recommend couples take these tables as they are intimate and private but also offer a great view of what is going on below.
With the rebuilding also came a need for artwork on the walls and we worked with a local artist who produced an amazing focal point. We then added collections that are constantly changing and evolving with paintings and photographs. We will sell an item, replace it and so on. We feature a local photographer at the stairs and those photos are swapped out seasonally which works really well.
Our customers are very much a part of everything we do. Our wine list was created by one of regulars who provided us with a very detailed wine pairing selection. We work with a local wine supplier who is always bringing us new wines to try so like our menu and art our wines are always changing and improving as well. We also have local musical talent playing with us.
We are very involved with our customers and have found a way to keep people engaged with a very interactive Facebook page. This plays a huge role in keeping in touch with customers, letting them know what’s going on and what they’ve missed. I make sure I respond to every comment and carry on communication as best I can. It was very helpful in posting photos and updates when we were recovering after the fire.
I had a woman arrive at the restaurant one evening alone. She asked for me and introduced herself. She explained she had never felt comfortable going out to eat on her own, but when she found us on Facebook she felt she could come out and meet us and all the people who have joined us on Facebook. That is the atmosphere and spirit of our restaurant where husbands pop in because their wives are away. They have a connection with us and our customers. The community and customers play an intricate role in our restaurant and that is what has kept us going through the good and bad times. We know with the community behind us we have no other option than to do well.