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First Place: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Conversion: Restaurant/Specialty Food Shop
Submitted by: Ruscio Studio Inc., Montréal
📷: Studio CRBN, Montréal, Quebec, Canada




2022 Retail Renovation Competition

49TH PARALLEL COFFEE Roasters, a premium java purveyor based in Vancouver, British Columbia, wanted to expand eastward. (Its name references the geographic boundary that defines much of the western U.S./Canada border.) Chosen as the initial site for that expansion effort was a locale in Old Montréal which housed a popular diner whose owners had decided to retire.



Hired to transplant the 49th Parallel brand some 2800 miles eastward was Ruscio Studio (Montréal). Working within the confines of a 110-year-old building came with its share challenges and surprises, notes President Robert Ruscio.

That included ridding the building of asbestos and having the general contractor strip away the layers of finishes applied to the space over the years to uncover the original architectural elements beneath.




“That revealed a century-old field stone load-bearing wall, which was immediately earmarked as a feature element in the design,” Ruscio says. “A scuffed red brick wall was similarly discovered along a perimeter and also integrated into the design.”

As the store’s main offering is coffee, the space features an oversized, central bar with a dropped ceiling. That also helps animate the space via the energy the baristas bring by filling customers’ orders.

“The bar also connects the two physical spaces as one holistic area,” Ruscio says. “Upon entering, it welcomes guests and guides them to the rear, where they will find a lounge, communal table and an open kitchen where Lucky’s brand donuts are made.”

In addition, the design team sought to incorporate the vibrancy of the surrounding neighborhood into the concept. For instance, renowned local artist Stikki Peaches – “who best exemplifies the city’s joie de vivre spirit,” says Ruscio – was commissioned to create a 14-by-10-foot mural on a prominent wall near the entrance.

Those and other hyperlocal touches add up to what Ruscio describes as an “intentional tension between two styles: sleek industrial versus hip chic.”


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MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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