I’ll have an espresso and a mortgage, please

by Myles Shane on 25 Jan 2021

Indigo built a café, Ikea added a restaurant, and many gas stations are attached to a Tim Horton’s.

It seems, however, that if you’re looking to increase customers, adding a café to the premises is a good idea. Marta Pozniakowski, owner of RE/MAX Equinox, recently added Namaste Espresso Bar to the frontage of her Etobicoke brokerage—the first brokerage-café hybrid business in Canada, where customers can essentially buy a coffee and obtain a mortgage.

“I built Namaste Espresso Bar in front of the brokerage because I thought it was a great way to bring the community together, and perhaps one day, some of these people may need mortgages,” she said.

The name “Namaste Espresso Bar” seemed like a natural fit, she added.

“Its name is inspired by the Hindi word ‘Namasté,’ which is a way to see and honour the reality of others. One of the most common translations of namasté is ‘The divine light in me bows to the divine light within you.’”

Pozniakowski, born and raised in Poland, came to Toronto in her twenties with a film school degree and immediately created EKRAN, a Toronto Polish Film Festival that’s received much critical acclaim over the years. The event found its home at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Ave. and allowed Pozniakowski to build a robust network of business people and investors who helped pique her interest in real estate.

After spending an afternoon with the owner of Revue Cinema, Danny Mullin, she realized real estate could be her next passion. “I remember what Dan told me really made me think—he said, ‘You know, Marta, I have never owned a car.’” After inquiring why, he replied, ‘Because anytime I was on my way to buy one, I looked at a building and I thought, damn, I can buy a building for that money.’ [It] really stayed in my mind. His approach resonates with me—buy and hold. That’s what I am doing now to build an empire for my own family.”

The festival wasn’t paying the bills and Pozniakowski, who needed another revenue source, decided to become a real estate broker. After spending a few years acclimatizing to the world of business, she invested in a laundromat in Etobicoke and later renovated it into Canada’s first realty brokerage-café.

The question is why, during a pandemic, would Pozniakowski open an espresso bar?

“The coffee shop industry is depression-resistant, and it has a very attractive market,” she said. “On average, within the industry, a small-to-medium-sized coffee shop can earn anywhere from $60,000 to $160,000 in personal income for the shop owner, which is a great business. Namaste Espresso Bar promotes local artists, local brands, and also offers healthy organic snacks and smoothies.”

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