For a few weeks now, we have been (Re)united for the hood, the Mile End. Having at heart the development of our neighborhood that we love so much, we encourage our employees to support local businesses. We decided to highlight some of our employees’ favorites by going to meet the shop owners who are the pride of the Mile End.
First stop: Kem Coba, the favorite of Isabelle Thiery, accountant since 2018 at the Montreal studio. The owner of the famous ice cream shop, Vincent Beck, was waiting for us with a smile behind his colorful counter on Fairmount Street. We asked him to tell us the story of his business:
”It all began by pure chance in 2011 when my wife and I traveled to Quebec. Neither of us had a job at the time, and we stumbled upon this business for sale in the Mile End. With my experience in baking and my wife’s experience as a chocolate maker, we decided to take the plunge and found Kem Coba.
It’s funny, because several other businesses on the street started at about the same time and we all grew up together. We all offer diversified and quality products and services and it’s great to evolve in this atmosphere of good neighbourliness.
We quickly decided to offer something that people wouldn’t find anywhere else. Our signature products are all inspired by my wife’s Vietnamese origins, our travels or our customers.
People know that here we don’t offer traditional flavors. Our sorbets and ice creams are off the beaten path and that’s what motivates us week after week. Pandan leaves, corrosol, salted butter, durian, rose, hibiscus, lychee, etc. We seek to surprise by the authenticity of the ingredients in our products. Nothing pleases me more than a customer telling me how my ice cream makes him travel back to his home country. After all these years, I am more than proud of the work that has been done and I realize that Mile End and Kem Coba have influenced each other by promoting this diverse and creative culture that makes us all so much richer. »
Cones in hand, we then took the time to sit on the rainbow benches in front of the shop so that Isabelle could tell us about her Mile End favorite.
Tell us about the first time you went to Kem Coba?
I remember the exact date: it was June 23, 2018. I remember that because it was after an exam at the HEC. We were a small group of four students, very happy to finish the summer session which had been quite intense. One of the girls in the group, a former pastry chef, who always impressed me with her good addresses in town, told us about this ice cream parlour that she considered one of the best in Montreal. On this hot day of summer, it didn’t take much to get us there. We took the bus, got off in the Mile End and I finally got to taste my first “Kem Coban” ice cream: an almond and morello cherry “twist”. A pure delight!
Why is this one of your favorite stores in the neighborhood?
It represents the beautiful days of the year and the promise of gourmet treats that are out of the ordinary. I find the store to be friendly even though there are sometimes long line-ups. As I am the only one of my two children and my husband to appreciate the work of master ice-cream makers so much, having Kem Coba just a stone’s throw from the office makes me extremely happy. It is part of my secret garden, although I don’t go there as often as my sweet tooth dictates.
What are your favorite products?
Without hesitation, the homemade soft ice cream with its two flavors. I can’t wait to go back and try the special of the day. But honestly, all the flavors are delicious.
Did you know? There is a Twitter account that broadcasts live the number of people in line at the creamery on the busiest days. It can still be useful if your time is short and you’re in the mood for a little frozen snack!