A cozy coffee shop has opened at 143 Nelson Street St. West, just down a half block from Seventh Ave. MJ’s Coffee Bar and Bistro is owned and operated by Janelle Gelineau and Michelle Lee. The former business, Gopher Creek Coffee Company, closed its doors last year after Covid-19 took its toll on in-store coffee breaks.
Having a new business arise to serve Virden’s core is something to celebrate – with a cinnamon bun and coffee perhaps. Gelineau is known for her jumbo cinnamon buns, a thinly rolled dough that brings folds of flavour in a tidy bun.
Gelineau and Lee are excited about their menu.
“We do a super simple breakfast and lunch. Everything breakfast is hand-held food, making it an easy stop to get out and go with. Our lunch menu is wraps, salads and I do a special homemade soup every day. Fridays are always our broccoli and cheddar, and we sell a lot. People will pre-order,” says Gelineau.
There’s nothing deep-fried. “Everything is fresh. I’m usually the one in the back, cooking.” Michelle serves at the counter and they have hired Shelby Cranston as additional staff.
Gelineau had worked in healthcare in the area. But both she and Lee were originally from Winnipeg and finally met in Virden. They purchased the building in January of 2022 and MJ’s opened in August with a red carpet grand opening.
Lee has been Cory Nixon’s partner for a decade. They are raising three boys. Lee says she hasn’t met a lot of Virden people so she’s enjoying the change. “It’s very exciting for me, just in the sense that, I’ve lived here for 10 years. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. Now I can get out and meet people. That’s the biggest change for me.”
The building is perfect as a small coffee shop and Michelle and Jannelle thought so too. These two friends involved Michelle’s partner Cory who managed the renovation, but MJ’s owners were hands on, doing as much of the practical work as they could.
“We put lots of thought and planning into our renos. We’re happy with how it came together,” says Lee. Canvas prints from local photographer Alleesha MacDonald will add interest, along with the little shop’s live plants and centrepieces from Flower Attic and Gifts.
The new owners are excited about the contacts and encouragement they’ve received from the town’s businesses.