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The Espress “O” café is now open for business on the corner of Knowlton Road and Victoria street in Lac Brome in what once was the local gas station and residents can hardly believe their eyes, or their good fortune, that the once rather bland Esso Station has been transformed into funky, hip coffee shop and lunch counter.
In a bold entrepreneurial move, Richard Pilon, owner/operator of the Star Café on Lakeside, has opened a compact version of his extremely popular downtown café in the Canadian Pond building at 513 Chemin Knowlton proving that local business is alive, well and quite frankly thriving in Knowlton.
The new Espresso “O” café will feature equitable blends of coffee and rich espresso and cappuccino freshly brewed in the gleaming new espresso machine that sits on the counter of the superbly decorated coffee shop. It is almost unbelievable that the old gas station office, the dingy oil-soaked dwelling of gas jockeys, has been transformed into what now looks like a truly cosmopolitan café that is like something we would find in a big European city!
The Pilon Family, including hard working friends, volunteers and believers in the new project, have created a magical, lush décor that looks like something out of a movie with vintage dome lighting, crisp white ceiling fans and burlap coffee bags hung from the ceiling; the effect is awesome! A bright red counter with black chrome and leather chairs, collections of brightly colored bottles, and baskets of natural fibers decorate the walls of what easily rivals any café from Sutton to the Atwater Market, and all in less than a few hundred square feet!
The space is small but Richard has big plans including setting up picnic tables and parasols to allow summer visitors and lunchtime guests to enjoy the summer heat outside under the blue skies. His sense of style has already proven to be a big hit at the Star Café in downtown Knowlton with a regularly full outdoor terrace and by bringing his unique touch of style to the other side of town he is really helping make Knowlton a special place. How refreshing to see local business folks take the initiative instead of waiting for big franchises to come in to town; with the large amount of commercial space for sale and rent we’re often left wondering when the large multi-nationals will roll into town and turn us into another Granby or South Shore Strip Mall! I mean when charming little coffee shops like the Express “O” open in Knowlton there is definitely hope! I must admit, even as a hardcore Timmy fan I’m now almost glad Mr. Horton is still stuck in Cowansville and didn’t invade Knowlton! In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Richard and his concept didn't turn into a franchise in the Eastern Townships that rivals the big coffee monsters like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Tim Horton due to the creative look and down-home hospitality of his establishments!
The new café will be open daily from early morning to 5pm and maybe later once the summer really kicks in and will include a menu of fresh panini, chili, soups, salads and a variety of pastries and deserts and great breakfast choices like bagels and crème cheese and juices. Surely the ambiance of the café, reminiscent of a quaint European bistro will be a welcome change from some of the existing local establishments that are reminiscent of a “George Fox” sensory experience.
Alongside the café is the brand new Knowlton Car Wash that has re-opened in the Canadian Pond building. After months of seeing dirty cars and trucks in town it will be great to have a local carwash close to the shopping district of the new Knowlton town center. The Lac Brome Car Wash has been improved with the addition of brand-new supple, natural brushes and will possibly, according to reports, soon include phosphate-free soaps making it one of the rare car washes in Canada that use environmentally friendly soaps to help prevent the release of phosphates into the water table which is of particular concern to Brome Lake. A great step by the owners of the progressive, environmental firm Canadian Pond.
The Knowlton carwash and the Express “O” café are now officially opened and seeing the Canadian Pond building full and surrounded by a vibrant buzz of lively activity is another indication that Lac Brome is enjoying a real boom! There’s no excuse to see any more dust crusted jalopies or half closed eyelids in Knowlton now!
Visit the Express “O” café and Knowlton Carwash seven days a week at the corner of Knowlton Road (route 104) and Victoria Street.