business opportunity

The opportunity

Two Whales Coffee Shop is for sale. The sale includes the whole property with existing buildings and infrastructure, all equipment, furniture, fixtures and fittings, stock and necessary products for starting off the new season. It includes the right to use the Two Whales brand. We are looking for like minded owner/operators to buy the business or, alternatively, managers who could be supported by willing investors.

The business

Two Whales is a well established coffee shop and restaurant with an unparalleled, province-wide reputation and strong brand. It has been a leader in delivering healthy eating opportunities and environmental consciousness for the past fourteen years and has contributed towards the Bonavista peninsula growing and diversifying its business profile to include a range of new startups.

The business is run as a for-profit social enterprise which prioritizes the environment, education, respect for employees, staff development, food/drink quality and support for the arts over purely making money. Two Whales teaches by example—putting into effect the values that are written in our Mission Statement.

An excellent start for people who are not fully cognisant of the way Two Whales is run is to read our Two Whales Cookbook, which offers much in the way of explaining our philosophy.

The coffee shop is open for just over 6 months of the year (end of April – end of October) which is currently longer than similar businesses operating within the tourist season. The season generally starts slowly, increases to maximum capacity in July/August and tails off again until the end of the season. Weekends can be busy at any time of the year.

We are mainly a brunch/lunch establishment serving vegetarian food, espresso coffees, soft drinks and some alcohol—opening from 10am-4pm in the main season. We generally start the season by opening 4/5 days a week, move to 7 days a week from mid-June until Labour Day (early September) and, depending on staff availability, continue with 4/5 days a week through September & October.

The main client groups are: people on short breaks from St John’s, Millennials, tourists, people from nearer towns on a day out, people with second homes in the area (often from mainland Canada/USA/UK), locals.

The twelve staff we employ during the season are our most important asset. We usually employ two (adult) staff for the whole season, two/three further adult staff for a shorter season and younger staff who are either at the local school or University/College with ages ranging from 15–22. We generally accept younger staff from the age of fourteen and develop them through the business—providing them with more responsibility as they progress into whatever roles they prefer. We have a very low staff turnover. Our staff are highly competent, motivated, reliable, fun and work very well as a team. There is plenty of resilience built into the staffing model.

We have a moderately large garden and a greenhouse which supply 100% of our salad greens and other salad crops throughout the season, as well as herbs, spinach, kales, beans, peas, some root crops, garlic and cut flowers. We have a working root cellar.

We offer the main dining room as an art space for Newfoundland artists or artists who have been inspired by Newfoundland and Labrador. We usually change the art show every month during the season. We also put on music evenings featuring Newfoundland and touring musicians and film shows for the SJIWFF Films On the Go programme and the Nickel Film Festival.

Ideal owners/managers

In our minds the new owners/managers would benefit from:

  • having a lot of energy and enthusiasm
  • having people/business management skills
  • having an interest in healthy eating
  • being committed to the environment
  • having an interest in gardening
  • having cooking/baking skills
  • understanding how a social enterprise runs
  • being more than one! (two or more people working as a team)
  • having computer/social media skills

Financials

Income & expenditure spreadsheets are available for the past 5 or more years including ‘normalized’ accounts for 2019 and 2021. Data is also readily available for detailed expenditure analysis and from Square.

Timescale

Two Whales will cease operation on 30th October 2022 and it is hoped that new owners/management will be in place to start the season late April/early May 2023.

Transitioning

Everything will have been completed ready for new owners/managers to open for the next season. All jams, chutneys and pickles that we would normally prepare in the Fall will have been made; sufficient berries and beet will be in the freezer for use next season.

If Two Whales is to continue in some form that adopts the basic values and legacy there is much to learn!

We visualise a gentle transition with Sue and David guiding the new owners/managers before opening and at the beginning of the season. Gradually withdrawing but remaining available during the season to help new owners/managers learn about and operate the business as it has done in prior years. It is a complex business, with much to learn and they have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to freely pass onto interested parties. At Two Whales there are no ‘trade secrets’—everyone is welcome to learn from our experience. We can train you to make espresso coffees and bake! David will be available to pass on his knowledge and experience in the gardening side of the business.

Potential

We have purposely kept Two Whales at the size and turnover it currently is despite people urging us to expand. However there is plenty of potential for growth and diversification, including:

  • extending the season
  • extending the hours
  • evening menu
  • plenty of land for additional buildings/gardens
  • outside catering
  • expanding the bakery

Contact

If you have any questions or want to discuss this further please send us a message through our contact page.