The garage door of the small atelier of Avenue Coloniale was half rolled up and I could already smell the sweet essence of freshly sawed wood when I arrived. The idea behind the table-service objects company, founded by Raphaël Millette and Florence Julien-Gagnier, came when they were both waiting tables in restaurants.
“We were spending a great amount of time simply explaining (and remembering) what sort of cheese and cold cuts were placed on the boards, that’s when we had a simple idea. We would create a serving board with a slate band on the side in order to write the names of the products presented to customers.”
They crafted a first batch of 250 boards that they put up on the retail site Etsy and to their surprise, the lot sold out in a matter of days. They then decided to both quit their waiter jobs and get serious. You can now witness their boards being served in many Montreal restaurants like the cozy Richmond in Griffintown.
To produce their flagship item, the makers combine maple, cherry wood and walnut essences in order to obtain an interesting contrast. “Both our fathers are woodworkers so in the beginning, we were literally stealing their scraps to make our first boards!”, explains Raphaël while pushing a rough wood board in the first machine of the circuit. “Let’s say we are practicing what some call slow-design. We love to simply come here, play some good music and just do our craft with love and passion”.
Of course now they have diversified their product line with different shapes of boards and recently, picnic accessories. Like this cup holder you stick in the ground to provide stability to your glass on the grass. Small things. Their products are also sold in carefully handmade pockets, making their product even more premium. This could make a perfect locally-sourced gift for your friends.
“What helps with our boards, is that the nature of the product itself brings people together. Hosts love to talk about their serving boards and share our little story at the same time.” explains Florence. “This is simply the best word-of-mouth marketing for us!”
You can order their wonders directly on their website or meet the makers in the flesh at the numerous Montreal crafts fair events, growing in popularity with the holidays approaching. The table is set for success for Avenue Coloniale. Better knock on wood now!