Second Cup parent company Aegis Brands buys Ottawa-based Bridgehead Coffee
Published Thursday, December 5, 2019 7:09AM EST Last Updated Thursday, December 5, 2019 7:09PM EST
OTTAWA -- Ottawa - It’s a local success story: known as Ottawa’s biggest little coffee company and now, it's under new ownership. Bridgehead Coffee has been sold to the owners of Second Cup in a deal worth $11 million dollars. Bridgehead has prided itself on that moniker “the biggest little coffee company.” The woman who brought Bridgehead here says it'll stay that way even as it grows beyond the borders of Ottawa.
Inside Bridgehead’s flagship coffee house and roastery on Preston Street in Ottawa, the coffee is still being brewed the same way, the bread is still being made the same way and the name on the cups hasn't changed.
And that, according to the woman who brought Bridgehead to Ottawa, is the way it will stay.
“That's one of our strengths is our name,” says Tracey Clark, the Chief Culture Officer of Bridgehead, “No Bridgehead location is closing, our head office stays right here in this building, and any future stores will be under Bridgehead name.”
What has changed is who now owns the 19 Bridgehead coffee shops across Ottawa.
The Second Cup, now known as Canadian-owned Aegis Brands paid $9.5 million dollars plus an additional $1.5 million if profit targets are met for a total of $11-million dollars for Bridgehead to help the “biggest little coffee company” grow.
Steve Pelton is CEO of Aegis Brands, “We want the people who made Bridgehead great to continue to run Bridgehead to make sure it stays great. Their ambition is to grow and we're going to help them. It's not us telling them to grow; we will just help them along the way.”
If this story sounds familiar, it should.
A few months ago, Ottawa's Farm Boy stores were snatched up by grocery giant Sobeys. Customers there worried about that local flavour disappearing. It’s a fear that resonates with Bridgehead customers, too.
“It’s a family run operation,” says one customer, “so we hope it stays that way.”
“As long as the atmosphere remains the same,” says customer Phil Martin, “We love it here.”
And so do the employees.
Lennon Stewart works making breads for Bridgehead, “It’s a new opportunity for us and a good injection of cash into the business as a whole,” she says.
All 325 employees are told their jobs are safe.
Ibrahim Khalil is the store manager at the Preston shop, “The fact we got acquired by Aegis is because we're good at what we do.”
Bridgehead's first expansion out of Ottawa will probably be into Toronto. That's where Bridgehead first got its roots some 40 years ago, a small church-basement kind of concept that has clearly grown.