The Starting Line

I was about to entitle this post “The Finish Line”. This long journey, at times, has felt like a marathon and with construction wrapping up it feels like things are somehow drawing to a close. It takes me only a second to come to my senses and realize that this is only the beginning. We’ve created the back-drop and now the real, good stuff is about to start. Last week we had the opportunity to thank our volunteers and contractors – whose hard work made so much of this possible.  Check this site. The following evening we hosted a “Sneak Peak” event where we opened our doors and tested out our new espresso machines on our friends and neighbours. It was such an encouraging night for our no deposit casino team  and to catch a glimpse of what real life will be once our doors are open for good. Countless people donated home-baked pies for these evenings and we are SO appreciative of their delicious contributions. These next couple weeks will see lots of finishing touches fall into place.

Friends and neighbours checking us out for a 'Sneak Peak'

Friends and neighbours checking us out for a ‘Sneak Peak’

Old & New

There has been a lot of new activity down at 541 Barton St. lately. We’ve begun installing new cabinetry, trim, tiles and even beautiful new windows. While the space is in many ways modernized and unrecognizable from a few months ago we’ve been mindful of honouring the historic charm of this beautiful building. Many of our counter surfaces are being made constructed from century-old hemlock boards and our harvest table is made from re-claimed ash wood as well. Last week we acquired a vintage deli display which we are looking forward to refurbishing to its former splendour!
While the building still smells of sawdust (a lovely fragrance, in my opinion) it is weeks away from smelling of delicious food and freshly brewed coffee! We’ve got big dreams for this project and to make those a reality we will be relying on the support  of volunteers. If you’re interested in joining our team as a volunteer please send an e-mail to myself  at [email protected] or to our Executive Director Sue Carr at [email protected] We would love to chat and to learn more about you! If you’re interested in partnering with us financially please see the Get-Involved page of our website.

See you soon!







If you walked into 541 Barton St. at this very moment you would happen upon a flutter of activity. You would see that some walls have been knocked down and that new ones have been built in their place. You would see new plumbing waiting for sinks, electrical plugs waiting for coffee machines and new windows waiting to let the light in. You would see that the space at the rear of the building, which once was an apartment, has been entirely gutted.

What is not so easy to see, however, are the gruelling hours spent tearing, scrubbing, sanitizing, vacuuming, scraping, sanding, painting, patching, and preparing this space. A project of this magnitude certainly doesn’t come without its challenges and I personally have gained a new appreciation for the term ‘grunt work’. I want to say a special thanks to everyone who got their hands dirty and helped us prepare this space. We could not have done this without you.

While our to-do list seemed endless at times, we are nearing the finish line – the plans, prayers and dreams of the past few years are finally coming to fruition. As our opening approaches, I find myself dreaming more and more. I imagine sitting in the morning sunshine, drinking coffee with my neighbours on Barton Street. I anticipate the conversations, the new friendships, and the connections that will be made here. I dream of a place where people feel valued, loved and listened to.  I dream of the day we can provide meaningful employment to those in need of jobs. I look forward to using our space for after-school programs for kids and community events and I’m so excited to work alongside other groups and businesses pursuing positive change in Hamilton. I hope for transformation, renewal and redemption for our city. I believe that what will happen at 541 is beyond my wildest dreams and that God’s dreams for this place are far greater than my own.

To those who have given us their talents, advice, free time, elbow grease, finances, prayers and well wishes; we want to say thank you, sincerely. Your generosity and support have encouraged us every step of the way. We invite you to be a part of this journey and to dream along with us for many years to come. This is only the beginning.



Open House

This Saturday we are excited to be opening our doors for our first Open House! Come and see our beautiful building and view the plans for our upcoming renovations. Members of our team will be available to answer your questions and tell you more about this exciting new initiative. We’ll also be offering a taste of what’s coming this fall with a sampling of a few of our menu items and some cool refreshments. The event will run from 5pm to 8pm – hope to see you there!

A Long Time Coming

The inaugural blog post. After years of dreaming, planning and much hard work, 541  is on its way (and we finally have a blog!) On behalf of the team, I want to extend our deepest thanks to everyone who has helped, prayed for and encouraged us along the way. This project wouldn’t be possible without your support – and to think; this is only the beginning!

There is so much that remains to be done before our dream of bringing an eatery/social enterprise to Barton St. can become a reality. What does the term ‘social enterprise’ entail, you might ask? Simply put, the end goal of our business is not to make a profit, rather it is to positively impact families and individuals in the Barton St. community. We plan to do this, primarily, by offering affordable (and delicious) meals and by investing all profits from eatery sales back into the community. Our hope is to provide opportunities for employment and to create a space where everyone who walks through the door feels welcomed and valued. Our first program will be focused on providing after-school homework help and meals for kids. The intended launch date is Fall 2013.

In order to achieve this, we’re going to need your help – yes, you. Whether you’re up for volunteering hours in the eatery, mentoring a student or swinging a hammer as we renovate our beautiful building, we would love for you to be a part of this! Our hope is for the eatery to be financially sustainable in the not-too-distant future but until then our financial partners will play an important role in our success. Check out our ‘Get Involved’ page for more information on how to donate. Even if you’re a student, you can pre-authorize a monthly donation. $5 or $10 per month can add up quickly and will make a huge difference in the long run. If you have any questions please let us know by filling out the form on the ‘Get Involved’ page and we will get back to you ASAP. Also, be sure to check out the blog for regular updates!

We are so excited to begin this journey and I can’t wait to see everyone when our doors open this summer. There will be a hot cup of coffee and a scone/cookie/sandwich/bowl of chili with your name on it.


541 Info Night

On April 27th we were thrilled to host our first info night for 541 Eatery & Exchange (and first ever event at 541 Barton St.). We had the opportunity to share our business plan and our vision for the future and to premiere a short video (which will be available online shortly). I was so encouraged by the sights and sounds of people eating, playing game best online casino askgamblers, drinking and talking with one another. It was a beautiful picture of things to come.
Thanks to everyone who came and a big thanks to Emma Korgemaa and Cole McFarlane for the photos below!