#OttawaInc – Caffeine 1Up

By: Invest Ottawa | Sep 19, 2016

Who says work and play can’t go hand in hand? One geeky entrepreneur is proving they can, with her brand new videogame café called Caffeine 1Up.

Heather Powell is the woman and owner behind the café. A devoted gamer since the age of four, Powell even met her husband while playing an online game.  Combining her geekdom with her twelve years of experience in coffee service, the Caffeine 1UP café was the natural result. The café, located on Rideau Street, welcomes both seasoned and rookie gamers to come enjoy a nosh, a cuppa, and a bit of gaming fun, with over two hundred titles at their fingertips.

We asked Heather herself to tell us a bit about this business venture with a +20 coolness factor.


Caffeine 1Up located at 362 Rideau Street

Caffeine 1Up located at 362 Rideau Street

What can we expect at your café?

Our main attraction is really our videogames. For a flat fee, patrons can stay all day and play hundreds of games on our various systems, while enjoying beverages, sammies, and pastries. But there’s seating away from the games as well, so if you’re not just stopping in for a to-go cup, you can still sit and surf the net for a while before heading out.

What makes your business unique in its niche?

I’d like to think that being a woman in the largely male-dominated gaming industry gives me a unique perspective on making my café a welcoming space for everyone. The café itself stands out with the addition of videogames circling the space, allowing us to offer a community spot in the middle for customers to simply socialize with each other.

How does the café support the local business ecosystem?

Caffeine 1UP sources all its products from Ontario and local suppliers. Reunion Island Coffee takes care of the café’s coffee needs, local bakeries such as Strawberry Blonde Bakery (vegan and gluten free), Rideau Bakery, and Tom and Sons Donuts satisfies our pastry cravings.

What are your plans for an official launch party?

Well, first we have a special ‘Media Sneak Peek Day’ on September 19th, open to all media including bloggers. The public can come ‘beta test’ the café right now, as we just opened our doors this week, but we do have a Grand Opening Party scheduled for September 26th.

Caffeine 1Up Inside View

Caffeine 1Up Grand OpeningParty is scheduled for September 26th

What are three things you’ve learned during this most recent journey to success?

I would consider myself still on the journey to reach success, but I’ve already learned a few things. First off: expect delays and hiccups. Some things will just be out of your control, so try to prepare yourself as best as you can (wiggle room in budgeting or extra time for things being delayed). Second: time management. So much time management. Sure you might save some money on the item if you do it or make it yourself, but did you account for how much time you’ll be spending doing it? Oh, and third: sleep more.

What made you decide to start/grow your business in Ottawa?

After making Ottawa my home nine years ago, I couldn’t imagine starting my business anywhere else. I spent three years researching neighbourhoods and the long wait paid off when I discovered 362 Rideau Street. The Sandy Hill community has been overwhelmingly welcoming, and I’m excited to create a social gathering space in this area.

What can you share about the support you got from Invest Ottawa? What services did you access, and how were we most helpful to you?

For the past 3 years I have attended numerous Invest Ottawa seminars, entrepreneur meet-ups, advisory meetings, and specialized ‘ioNiche’ industry groups. Invest Ottawa is THE resource for entrepreneurs starting out. I was able to obtain the resources and knowledge to open my store, 100% thanks to Invest Ottawa.


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