Meet the owners
Do you know what Fringe Coffee, the newly opened local cafe in Montgomery, and London Barbers have in common? Not only do the shops share a wall, Ali is the manager of London Barbers, Montgomery. He helped the owner (his boss) build and renovate the shop, however he does not have ownership. When I stopped by to chat with them and try the coffee, I asked Ali if it’s hard to run two businesses that seem so different. “For both businesses I want to take it back to the old school, where people can come to the barber shop or the coffee shop just for a conversation. Where I come from in Lebanon, the social life is so important that you can’t live without it. If you are living in a neighbourhood then you know like twenty of your neighbours and are friends with them and you rely on them….when I came to Montgomery and Bowness I felt this vibe of social life more than downtown.”
Ali moved to Canada six years ago and met his now wife **partner Melissa, when he was still very new to Calgary.. A serial entrepreneur, he started a leatherworking business in their apartment before helping to open up London Barbers' Montgomery location. “A lot of barbers run their shops just for the money, but the owner and I opened London Barbers here for the social life, for the friendships. I want people to go out from the barber shop with a huge smile on their face.” While talking with his new friends in the neighbourhood, Ali heard over and over again that the community needed a coffee shop. “So I pitched the idea of a coffee shop to Melissa” says Ali, “and it took us probably five to six months with the renovations and everything to get to opening weekend.” I laugh and remark at the speedy timeline, and Ali responds with a smile “For me, that’s not quick.”
When you walk into Fringe you will find a beautiful, modern space and everything you can want from a coffee shop. In addition to the staples like lattes and fresh pastries, you can also find two unique items that pay homage to Lebanon. Ali and Melissa have Turkish coffee on the menu, which is a strong, long-brewed coffee that is steeped with warm spices and served in beautiful "rakwa," or Turkish coffee pots. You can also try Knafeh at Fringe, a Lebanese breakfast dish consisting of a cheesy base and a cake-like topping made from semolina flour. The Knafeh is brought in fresh daily from a local bakery. It’s served with a delicious syrup that is certain to delight any sweet tooth and makes for an unforgettable brunch.
Ali and Melissa have big plans for Fringe and London Barbers and are excited to invite the community along for the journey. Pop in for a latte or a haircut and ask them about any upcoming events they have planned. Live music, art talks, and open mic nights at Fringe are being discussed and you can follow them on Instagram to stay in the loop, @FringeCoffee.