After a long ride through Gatineau Park on a blistering hot day, some folks may find something refreshingly sweet about an ice-cold beer. In the centre village, just minutes from the Chelsea trail, beer enthusiasts can now find their oasis.
Hills entrepreneur Nicolas Cazelais, known for his successful ventures in the food and beverage industry, has opened a new microbrewery and counter-style eatery in Chelsea. Building on the reputation of the now-closed Gainsbourg brewpub in Hull, Cazelais has rebranded under the name Chelsea & Co. With an array of new beer styles and a focus on community engagement, this establishment will no doubt become a local favourite.
Tucked away on Chemin Douglas near the post office, Chelsea & Co is now open to the public, offering an 80-person capacity of both indoor seating and a spacious terrace. The outdoor space is outfitted with plenty of picnic tables, adirondack chairs, an outdoor fireplace, and covered areas to take cover from the elements. Inside, the bright sun-soaked space is coloured by wood trimming and a mural that resembles the unique style of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Cazelais, recognizing the challenges in finding staff, opted for a counter-style approach to streamline service and provide customers with quick and efficient food delivery.
“The idea is that they can be drinking beer and eating food within minutes,” Cazelais told the Low Down. The new space offers a range of meals prepared by Gatineau-based businesses Les Flavoureux and La Femme à Marier, and to add variety, an ever-changing calendar of food trucks will temporarily set up shop at the eatery.
Cazelais played a pivotal role in changing municipal rules regarding food trucks and expressed gratitude for the community's support during this process. Chelsea council recently approved food trucks in certain sectors during the May council meeting. The mayor, he explained, has been particularly supportive of this new project.
"Being able to connect people with different businesses in the region is great."
Chelsea & Co is primarily focused on serving the local community, with approximately 90 per cent of their beer enthusiasts hailing from the area, explained Cazelais. For him, catering to the needs of his immediate surroundings is a main priority. As such, the eatery is an experience tailored to outdoor enthusiasts, providing a family-friendly space and incorporating bike racks directly on the grounds. As he thoughtfully explained, “People roll up with $4,000 bicycles. They don’t want to lock their bike too far away, so we provided that for them.”
As for the beers currently in demand, Cazelais said his local customers have been particularly enamoured with La Chelsea, a refreshing summer lager, and La Pink, a white beer infused with raspberries. These offerings, alongside a diverse selection of other styles, provide an appealing range of options to suit every taste.
While Cazelais is running the business side of things, he has two brewmasters concocting the unique ales.
Chelsea & Co is located at 6 Chemin Douglas, Chelsea.