Make it Happen – Jennifer Harrison and The Buzz Cafe and Espresso Bar
She’s the owner, manager, and smiler-in-chief of a coffee shop with a ‘look’ and vibe so cool, it’s been used as a film set. Three times.
Jennifer Harrison, age 49, opened her coffee shop, The Buzz Cafe and Espresso Bar, in December, 2008, and it’s been a favourite neighbourhood hangout practically since day one.
The Buzz shares space – “co-mingles” – with Harrison Galleries, a long-time family business operated by Jen’s husband, Chris Harrison. Coffee shop and gallery are housed together in an old red brick heritage building on the corner of Smithe and Homer, in the heart of Vancouver’s Yaletown.
Big comfy chairs; small intimate tables, and ever-changing art displays: no wonder people come in once, look around, and marvel at the art that covers every inch of the weathered wood walls. Then they come back again, and again. .
Jennifer’s personality is also part of the charm. Go there for the first time, and she’ll greet you herself. Come back a couple of times, and she’ll remember your name, how you like your coffee, and how you feel about a Morning Glory muffin.
And if you’ve got something that needs framing, she’ll handle that, too.
No wonder The Buzz has also become a favourite local spot for early morning business networking groups, as well as wedding receptions, holiday season parties, and any other celebration that calls for an atmosphere of welcoming, relaxed sophistication.
Think Downton Abbey, with better coffee.
Jennifer’s day starts at 6 am, and she’s on her feet non-stop until the shop closes 12 hours later. She’s the kind of person for whom the phrase ‘multi-tasker’ was created.
She hires, trains, and supervises all staff. She’s much sought-after for her suggestions on event planning. She knows her regular customers’ kids, their dogs, and their life stories.
Her customers become her friends, and vice versa. And that says it all.
Jennifer is also a community volunteer recognized province-wide for her work with kids, volunteer work that she’s managed to combine with raising her own two boys plus helping with her step-son, and four step-grandchildren, ranging in age from 12 years to five weeks. (She and Chris already babysit.)
For example, she was a Cub Scout leader with Scouts Canada for seven years, and proudly reports that in 2006, her troupe was judged to be the best in the entire Richmond Area, and the winner of a much-coveted Spirit Award. .
For the past 11 years, Jennifer has been a volunteer at Camp Goodtimes, a pediatric oncology summer getaway under the umbrella of the Canadian Cancer Society. In 2013, she was presented the Division Volunteer Award of Excellence, given annually to the person who best embodies the spirit of voluntarism.
Both Jennifer and Chris are strong supporters of the local business community. All The Buzz’ suppliers are local, including the caterer who supplies many of the food items served in the coffee shop
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