If it’s Broke, it Ain’t Fixed
Standing proudly on the blustery, eastern end of Duckworth Street, St. John’s, is Fixed Coffee and Baking. The company founded by Springdale, Newfoundland, duo Greg Hewlett and Jon Howse are closing in on the anniversary of their third year in business.
In a day that isn’t exactly promising for downtown business owners, the company has defied the recessing decay affecting downtown businesses; recently expanding with a second location, a coffee bar, on Harvey Road.
Having worked for a decade in the “black gold” industry, both Hewlett and Howse really know what they’re brewing. With at least six other coffee shops in the downtown core vying for espresso supremacy, it’s not likely that their coffee is the only thing distinguishing Fixed.
It’s likely due to the diverse and unique recipe of great coffee, tasty baked treats, pop-up dinners and books (from their sister store Broken Books) that has helped Fixed carve out a place in the downtown St. John’s market.
I spoke to Greg Hewlett and asked him about the company, what contributes to their success and the newest location.
What is it about Fixed that sets it apart from other coffee shops in St. John’s?
A couple things that seem to set us apart include the fact that you’ll find the owners on the floor day-in day-out, pulling shots, serving customers, sharing in the job they hire people to help them with, cause it’s still the job they want to be doing.
When the love and enthusiasm for coffee and food is found in the company across the board, the quality of what you’re putting out there is a given.
There’s another thing too, a tightly-knit staff. We’re made up of friends, family, couples (married and otherwise). You might think it’s a recipe for disaster but it’s proved quite the opposite: it’s a privilege (too rare in the service industry) like no other for me to know how thoroughly we’ve got each others backs.
Another important one is our paying top-dollar to buy coffee from roasters who have sourced the best beans in the world, all of which are single-origin and direct trade. It takes a leap of faith to spend considerably more per pound than the competition, and we’re very grateful to our customers for validating our choice to do so.
And then lastly is how we’ve got a serious food program to match the coffee: combining quality ingredients – from scratch, consistently fresh and locally-sourced where possible – with a guiding focus on flavour and balance. We’re inspired by the great modern boom in food culture at home and across the world, and attempt to be a part of it in our own city, primarily in the context of baking, lunch, and pop-up dinners, and in doing so have built an elaborate food program the likes of which is not often found in coffee shops.
Can you say a little bit about what it’s been like opening a second location and what it means for Fixed?
The second location was a step we knew we wanted to take, and so it was just a matter of keeping an eye out for the right space. Frankly, the right space presented itself quite a bit sooner than I imagined it would, but the location on Harvey Road made such sense by the numbers and felt so right in general that we couldn’t say no.
Five months in I’m stoked to report I’m really glad we didn’t say no. It’s added such depth to the company already: it’s expanded our reach, added a distinct aesthetic to the brand, allowed us to try new things with the food menu while staying true to what people like us for downtown, and given us a chance to present an alternate version of ourselves – which we do in joyous rebellion to the customary corporate practice of cloning yourself a bunch of times.
And then also, pretty crucially, we’ve now got quite a lot of room in the basement of this space to work with, and a whole lot of ideas about how to use it. Stay tuned for more in the future!
Check out the Fixed Coffee website for more information on the company, the products and the locations.