News / Edmonton

New Edmonton indie coffee shop part of bigger dream for downtown

Suddenly, as if coffee culture had just been discovered, there’s tasty, independent coffee on par with most other big cities available within a short walk in Edmonton’s downtown.

It’s something Edmonton couldn’t boast of even two years ago, and it’s something that increasingly defines cities for the growing, urban, Gen Y generation that’s choosing to live downtown.

Melbourne, for example, has come to be known as the capital of coffee culture for its layers of small, independent cafes and the lounging, friendly, people-mixing culture that they build.

And while Edmonton will never have Melbourne’s café-friendly weather, it’s now getting at least part of its coffee culture — a shift that includes the recently opened Transcend on 104 St., Coffee Bureau on Jasper Ave. at 105 St., and Burrow, in the pedway at Central LRT station.

But Lock Stock, the latest to join the indie coffee trend, is part of something even bigger, according to its co-owner.

Lock Stock is a tiny shoebox of an espresso bar with a Brooklyn brownstone vibe and, on holiday Monday, smooth jazz playing over the stereo.

It opened in late February and it’s wedged in between the popular Red Star and Bower bars.

The idea for Lock Stock has many layers, explains co-owner Blair McFarlane, who also co-owns Red Star.

Its genesis was simple: another Red Star co-owner was leaning on the bar one day and said, “Why don’t we try to open up a coffee shop within Red Star?” says McFarlane.

But there are bigger ambitions hiding within tiny Lock Stock.

Rather than seeing the other indie coffee shops nearby as competition, McFarlane sees them as complimentary, and part of a bigger trend that Lock Stock is part of – one of pulling people downtown.

As the co-owner of Red Star, which traces its roots back to Halo, a nightclub he and a few others opened in the same building about 15 years ago, Lock Stock is yet another way to add life to still-struggling downtown street life.

“We’re definitely trying to like create some sort of atmosphere downtown,” McFarlane says. “That’s the reason we came here almost 15 years ago. Me and my two business partners … we were living in Vancouver at the time and we came home and we were sitting at Joey Tomatoes and downtown was a ghost-town,” he says.

“We always wanted to do something downtown, try to make something happen.”

When Halo opened, people were saying it’d take five years before downtown took off, McFarlane says. Now, 15 years later, “we’re starting to see cranes everywhere.

“We’ve always tried to be those guys – trying to create a vibe downtown.”

More on