Meet your merchants: Fine art and great stories

When Abed Younes decided he was too young to retire and looked to start up his next new business, he found himself drawn to Vanier.

It’s fair to say he considered his options. Palestinian by birth, Abed lived for years in Germany, working with the Red Cross to help countless refugees and immigrants from all over the world settle into new lives. When he came to Canada in 1990, he rented a car and spent five months exploring the country to better understand his new home.

Vanier has changed a lot through the years and people have a very different concept of the community now. There are more kids around, more families.

He then decided his best way to put down roots was to start his own business. Over the past 25 years, Abed has built up and sold several local businesses, all in some way art-related, including Picture Plus. Roughly three years ago, he started up his latest venture, a custom framing and fine art prints shop on Beechwood Avenue called Art House Custom Framing.

“People ask me why I work with art,” Abed said. “Art is the only way to run away without leaving your home.”

It hasn’t taken him long to build up a strong customer base from among local residents and even nearby embassies with hard work, a focus on quality and word of mouth. Social work is still in his blood and his shop has become a local favourite for regulars who often drop by just to chat.

“This is such an amazing area,” Abed said. “Beechwood is booming.”

Meet your merchants: Riding the crest

Lauren Power was no stranger to Vanier when she and Greg launched Red Door Provisions two years ago. She had spent her teens in the area, attending high school in neighbouring Rockcliffe.

After 10 years away, she returned to Ottawa to find big changes afoot in her old stomping ground.

“We saw that Beechwood was right on this crest of new development, with proposals for upscale condo projects,” she said. “We knew the potential of the neighbourhood and we wanted to be part of this renewal, part of the boost.”

This “boost” is happening across Vanier, from Beechwood, to McArthur Avenue and Montréal Road.

“Vanier is an up-and-coming place for sure,” Greg said. “It’s changing every day. We like the neighbourhood aspect – everyone knows everyone. It’s not overrun by big commercial entities. It still feels like most every business is unique to this area. Even the big box stores have this community vibe to them.”

As entrepreneurs, location combined with affordable real estate in their choice of Vanier. Manageable startup costs have allowed them to flourish. Their lunch café and bakery features a unique mix of fresh-made treats, great coffees and house sodas, hearty brunch fare, and Lauren’s own signature jams, marmalades, chutneys and garlic scapes.

Local entrepreneurs Lauren and Greg Power run Red Door Provisions, a cafe and bakery featuring homemade goods and a hearty brunch.
Photo by Mark Holleron