Rami Kassem came to Canada as a refugee from Lebanon in 2000. Since he was little, he dreamed of owning his own business. On Saturday, in a sense, he’ll own four.
After a few jobs in a factory in Manitoba, and at an airport as a shuttle driver, Kassem moved north. He began his life in Yellowknife as a taxi driver, then decided to place an offer to purchase a coffee shop.
“We used to come to Javaroma as customers with my friends,” said Kassem. “We saw it being run by kids and it seemed like there was no service. So we thought: why don’t we give the offer to the owner and see what we can do?”
The offer was accepted in the same year that Kassem had his first child and received his Canadian citizenship.
“2009 was a great year for me,” he said.
Javaroma’s fourth location, which opens on Saturday, replaces the former Gourmet Cup café on the basement level of the YK Centre mall.
From 3pm to 6pm on its first day, the location will host a grand opening that involves face painting, gifts and $10 gift certificates for the first 100 customers. (Javaroma’s main downtown location will be closed, “allowing our entire team to join the celebration,” the store said.)
Aside from the main Franklin Avenue location, the others are both at Yellowknife Airport on either side of security.
Kassem said the new location is a sign that after a loss of revenue during the pandemic brought the business “back 10 years,” things are “getting way better.”