Solstice reopens its doors with music on its mind

Cafe celebrating 10th anniversary and grand reopening Sept.6

David Cardinal and Meg Iredale-Gray relax in the new patio area.

Local musicians, songwriters and spoken-word performers now have a sparkling and caffeinated new venue to call home.

For the last 10 years, the Solstice Café has been a downtown institution: a place to grab your morning cup of organic get-up-and-go, a meeting place for local grassroots organizations, and a music venue. Now, it’s finally getting a well-deserved upgrade.

Since Solstice opened its doors in 2001, little has changed. Owner David Cardinal started the café for the same reason many café owners do: his love of coffee. But he also started it because he was frequently disappointed by coffee houses that were primarily interested in selling mugs and paraphernalia instead of producing a good, ethical cup of coffee, and providing a comfortable place to drink it.

“A lot of the challenge here is trying to focus on ethics,” says Cardinal, “the environmental impact of what we try and do.”

But providing ethically-sourced coffee, along with organic and locally grown foods, has kept the café on a tight budget, which made renovations a challenge. Cardinal found the help he needed in long-time employee Meg Iredale-Gray.

Iredale-Gray bought half the business, allowing the Solstice to make a few changes: a bigger and better kitchen, some new appliances, a new floor and a fresh coat of paint. Gone are the worn armchairs and sofas; replaced with new chairs and tables to increase seating capacity.

“We were closed for 3 weeks and that can be really hard on staff,” says Iredale-Gray, “but instead of complaining or quitting, they came and helped with the renovations, volunteered their time, and had a great time doing it.”

The most obvious change is the addition of a patio made from recycled materials. It took nearly a month to complete. “It takes a while [to build something] when you’re looking for salvaged material,” says Cardinal. But now, on clement days, customers will be able to comfortably sit outside and enjoy the fresh air with their coffee.

With renovations complete, Solstice is looking forward to resuming its position as a community meeting place and a music venue.

“We’re trying to get back into having shows regularly,” says Iredale-Gray. “The renovation was a bit of a hiccup for us.” There’s little doubt that artists and community groups alike will find the bright and open interior inviting.

Solstice Café officially reopens Sept. 6 with a birthday bash, featuring musical and spoken word performances by O’mally, Bog River and The Roadside Dogs. They’re also taking advantage of the re-opening to experiment with a liquor license.

“It would be nice to be able to sit and drink a local beer and listen to music,” says Iredale-Gray. M

Just Posted

Unearthed music compositions written by Dunsmuir heiress

Music discovered in England by Craigdarroch curator to be played this Saturday at GVPL event

Juxtaposition key to art in The Lines Between at Gage in Oak Bay

The artist will be on hand for the opening reception on Sunday, April 29

FILM REVIEW: Violent vigilanteism helps cast disquieting spell

Robert Moyes offers his take on Joaquin Phoenix and You Were Never Here

Tickets go quickly for Tom Cochrane show at Elements Casino

Multi Juno Award-winner rejoins Red Rider bandmates for grand opening concert

UNO FEST 2018: Giving voice to artists with important things to say

Continued success of festival after 20 seasons a testament to the work of Intrepid Theatre

Shania Twain visits Canadian Armed Forces base in B.C.

Canadian country icon thanks members of CFB Esquimalt for their service

Mark Stuart returns for Sooke folk concert series

The concert takes place at Holy Trinity Anglican Church at 8 p.m. on Friday

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

Company winds up its 15th season in the city with Peter Pan next month

Dinosaurs taking centre stage at National Geographic event

NatGeo Live series finale May 2 at the Royal features renowned paleontologist

Celebrate Earth Day with guided walks through Beacon Hill Park

Local naturalists explore Garry oak ecosystem on Camas Day

Shania Twain set to visit CFB Esquimalt

Country music star is meeting members of the Canadian Armed Forces

Blue Bridge Theatre kicks off it 10th season with fun Russian farce

Unique spin on Chekov classic promises surprises

Cochrane alters lyrics to honour Humboldt Broncos

Rock singer, performing at the Elements Casino grand reopening May 5, changes up ‘Big League’

Most Read