Hard work is for Fools & Horses

Winnipeg’s newest coffee break destination

Photo provided by Fools & Horses.

Amidst a tumult of business transactions, impending deadlines, and difficult co-workers is the perfect reprieve: Fools & Horses – named after the beloved British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, about a group of people who spend all their time trying to come up with “get rich quick schemes” and, ironically, work all the time.

“The idea of being called Fools & Horses is a take on this idea that we all live to work, we don’t work to live, so we want this to be a place where people can focus on enjoying themselves,” said Fools & Horses co-owner James Magnus-Johnston.

“I think that speaks to millennials today; they’re spending so much time trying to figure out how to use the degree that they spent so much money on, they’re trying to find ways to make a simple living. We came to the conclusion that if we’re destined for simple livelihood, maybe we should try and do something good with that livelihood.”

Anchoring the idea is the modbar – essentially an under-the-counter espresso machine that allows you to profile it based on pressure and volume. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the new technology should lead to a higher quality coffee product. Designed by engineers turned musicians, the modbar has permeated the market on the West Coast and is slowly creeping into other metropolitan areas.

“Conceptually, the modbar will be very interesting; it’s very unique. But then also the idea of this being a social enterprise, something that reinvests in the community and catalyzes jobs for young entrepreneurs,” said Magnus-Johnston.

With this, the mandate of Fools & Horses was born. The business is pillared on three main ideologies: social, environmental, and economic. Not only is Fools & Horses designed to serve as a refuge from the stresses of everyday, it has also been constructed to help young entrepreneurs and businesses find their footing by creating a large network of local suppliers, which has the added benefit of reducing fossil fuel requirements.

On the roster so far: Miss Browns and Shawarma Khan on sandwiches, Jonnies Sticky Buns providing pastries, and up-and-coming baker Michael Harms providing bread for gourmet toast – with charcuterie and yogurt parfaits both on the menu as well.

Owners of the shop have also been working with local dairies and meat providers to cater only the best quality, while being as locally-sourced as possible.

As part of this mandate, Fools & Horses is teaming up with the dairy processing facility at the University of Manitoba for fresh yogurt for their parfaits. These partnerships, while contributing to lower carbon emissions, are also a way to create connections within the community.

“To me, that’s where innovation is now. To innovate is to reconnect to people now, which is kind of sad. You’ve got all these large monopolies now so you have to reconnect to the community.”

And what better way to connect than over coffee, wine, and beer.

“The other thing that’s going to be unique about this is we’re focusing primarily on coffee but then we’re also going to have other drinks on tap: beer and wine will be on tap too.”

Starting at noon, the taps will open to serve beer from Half Pints, Lake of the Woods, and Paddock Wood brewing companies, as well as wine from Vineland Estates Winery – making Fools & Horses one of the first establishments in Manitoba to serve wine from a keg.

Although the feat was far from easy, Magnus-Johnston said that finding wine to be served in a keg was important to the company not purely from an innovation standpoint, but for keeping fossil fuel requirements and waste to a minimum – it’s low carbon wine.

While new to Winnipeg, the idea of serving coffee, beer, and wine together has proven to be successful across the pond.

“In Europe, there are these places in Denmark and Belgium, and the Netherlands; there’s this concept that translates loosely to ‘the good life’ but also it means ‘coziness.’ And it’s centred on the great drinks: coffee, beer, and wine. Those are the kind of things that bring people together,” said Magnus-Johnston.

“We’re trying to figure out how to make that happen in Winnipeg. Winnipeg can thrive; it is thriving. We just need to create venues for those great things to happen. We don’t need to move to those places, you just need to create it and then it becomes a part of the culture.”

No strangers to culture, the owners of the shop are working to establish Fools & Horses as a hub of cultural activity, intending for the location to open after-hours in order to serve as the venue for art and music enthusiasts.

“One of the things that Fools & Horses is going to try and achieve is acting as an intimate venue for really excellent arts and culture. A really great jazz trio is not going to rent out Burton Cummings; they need a small, intimate venue. You can do some really neat things. I think it could be so innovative,” said Magnus-Johnston.

“We’ll start with really good coffee, and grow from there.”

Fools & Horses is located at 379 Broadway and is slated to open in late March, with hours from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday.