News / Ottawa

Video game themed cafe set to open in Sandy Hill

Video games have brought cafe owner Heather Powell love, home and her own independent business.

Heather Powell is the owner of Rideau Street’s Caffeine 1Up, a video game themed cafe celebrating their grand opening this week.

Haley Ritchie/Metro

Heather Powell is the owner of Rideau Street’s Caffeine 1Up, a video game themed cafe celebrating their grand opening this week.

Video games brought Heather Powell to Ottawa, they helped her meet her life partner and now they’ve inspired her to open her own cafe – Rideau Street’s Caffeine 1Up.

Powell, originally from Ohio, fell in love with the business of cafes and coffee shops when working for a small franchise. When she decided to open her own business she considered a franchise, but eventually decided to do things her own way.

“My coffee house needed to be more fun,” she said. “Everyone has been so supportive and welcoming. My heart has been swelling the whole time since we’ve opened."

The details inside Caffeine 1Up – from pixelated window shades to a lamp that resembles a cloud – reflect her passion for games and coffee.

“When I’m not working, I’m gaming – I’m a huge gamer,” she said.

Powell brought that life-long love into the new shop at 362 Rideau Street, a cafe that offers a chance for patrons to pick up a controller on one of the many gaming consoles displayed in the shop.

The oldest console available to use at the cafe is her own childhood NES, while the newest is a Wii U. Most of the game cabinet comes from her own collection. A computer she built herself allows patrons to play smaller games – including titles from Ottawa’s own indie developers.

Powell’s cafe doesn’t have a liquor license, meaning first-year university students and families with young kids are welcome in the evening hours. In time she sees the shop becoming ground zero for Ottawa video game fans, offering launch events and specially themed tournaments.

“It’s all welcoming and all inclusive,” explained Powell.

The menu reflects that ideal too; offering gluten-free goodies from local bakery Strawberry Blonde and handmade sandwiches that include vegan options.

One table that includes a screen and console is specially designated “Looking for Group” – meaning anyone coming in alone has an open invite to join in.

“I don’t want to alienate people who aren’t into games too – we’re here for people who just want a really good local coffee shop. We’ve got that covered, you don’t have to play games. I won’t be forcing anyone to play Super Smash Bros,” she said.

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