Coopérative Rond-Point adds to Hochelaga’s eclectic community
The Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district of Montreal may not be the first place that comes to mind when searching for a beautiful place to share a coffee with a friend or relax while studying. However, amidst the bustle of Ontario St., a welcoming spot has recently opened. On the outside, the small entrance of what looks like an old residential building may go unnoticed, but inside, there is an unusual coffee shop that’s quickly becoming one of Hochelaga’s hidden gems.
Coopérative Rond-Point is a self-run, non-hierarchical coffee shop that opened during summer 2017, where every decision is taken democratically by all staff members. For Héloïse Lanouette, one of the three founders of Rond-Point, the idea of creating a cooperative of workers came naturally.
“We did not want to recreate a hierarchical system of employee and bosses,’’ said Lanouette. “We thought this is the model we wanted to develop.”
The first thing that attracts attention when entering the place is the vibrant atmosphere—regular customers talking to the staff by the counter, university students preparing for their finals, a group of friends catching up during brunch. Most walls are covered by the work of local artists and posters of future shows, and there is even a piano at the entrance, which was a gift from the previous owner.
The shop stands out for its inclusivity and its accessibility for people of different ages and economic backgrounds.
“I come here for the human warmth,’’ says Francine Masson, a 68-year-old retiree from Montreal who is a regular customer. “That’s what I find here. The human warmth, different people of many ages and people from all nations. You can find this here.”
The same energy not only comes from the clients, but from the staff as well. The new members of the team have the same power and responsibilities as the founders do.
“I think we have a space where people feel good. We offer unlimited coffee for two dollars. People feel good to just come here to use the internet, drink something, and stay for the afternoon,” said Lanouette. “We have also a lot of people that are retired and come pass some time at the shop. It’s something we appreciate a lot.”
“What is fun in a cooperative is that we are all in the same boat,” says Jean-Luc Barrière, a new member of the communications team. “We are all equal. We have a good amount of tasks that we share in a perspective that we take care of each other. We make sure that everyone feels well in the workplace.”
One of the missions of the shop is to work with the community. It offers visibility for small artists and organizes weekly free events including poetry readings, comedy shows and movie screenings, that contribute to creating a social presence. Just recently, Rond-Point became the home of the Ligue d’Improvisation des Pas Sages (LIPS), an improvisation group that now puts on a show at the coop every other Thursday.
“The atmosphere is fun,” says Martin Dumais, a member of the LIPS for the past five years. “We are close to the young families which are the public that we are targeting. We also have here a room that is perfect for shows.”
“It’s a beautiful place,” says Marie Calmé, also a member of the LIPS. “I think it’s excellent to be working with a place that promotes local artists and culture.”
“It’s a beautiful discovery,” said Dumais. “We really fell in love with the place.”
Feature photo by Mackenzie Lad