Mystery Café Molo owners a mystery no more
New owners are Chelseaites Peter Smulders and Adriana Korkos
By Stuart Benson
Thanks to the power of public land registries, some good-old-fashioned journalistic sleuthing, and a little bit of ‘Google-fu’, The Low Down has solved the mystery surrounding the identity of the new owners of Café Molo: Chelsea resident and husband and wife business duo Peter Smulders and Adriana Korkos.
Korkos and Smulders recently spoke with The Low Down in order to “introduce” themselves to their new neighbours, to quell many of the rumours and concerns circulating on social media, and also to reassure them that the fate of the historic, 140-year-old Earle House was in good hands.
The couple said they aren’t ready to announce specifics on what they’re planning for the building. All they would say is that they plan to open sometime in the spring with a focus on how best to take advantage of the view and the garden — whether that implies a coffee shop or some other business.
They have also planned for an interior rearrangement and redesign in order to make things more accommodating to customers.
The pair have had to modify the timeline they had originally envisioned due to the pandemic, but they said they view it as a blessing in disguise, as it gives them more time to plan, work on a theme and overall design, and learn as much about the building's history and culture as they can. They’ve even been introduced to Titan, the former café’s famous feline.
“I think we just have more time to prepare and create the theme, putting together what we've learned from previous owners and the people around us to find the right balance for how to cater to the local community and the tourists,” Korkos explained.
The ‘not-so’ mysterious owners
The pair moved to Chelsea in 2016 with their two children – 15-year-old Charlotte and 11-year-old Sebastian – after spending over 25 years working in Sydney, Hong Kong, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, working in design services for the leisure and recreation industry.
Korkos attended post-secondary school in Sydney in 1994, and it is also where she had set up a design studio, working and creating her own art, which consists of conceptual and installation art projects. It was thanks to the design studio that she met her future husband, who approached the studio for a project he was working on in Dubai.
“From there, we kind of continued working together,” Korkos explained. “I was involved in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, from a sculptural point of view; I worked on the closing ceremonies with the props and things.”
Smulders, who went to school in Canada for landscape architecture, had originally planned to travel around Asia for a single year after graduation.
“Of course it became a lot longer and I ended up in Australia, running a design firm,” Smulders explained. [My design firm] was part of a job to work on the Olympic Aquatic Centre.”
After a few years in Australia, the couple moved to Hong Kong, since that was where Smulders needed to be for his work.
“Australia was nice, it's a beautiful country, but work-wise I need to be in Asia. I had been in Singapore for many years, working in resorts, hotels, and mostly the tourism industry,” Smulders explained. “So I convinced Adriana to drop her work in Sydney and to join me in Hong Kong.”
Once in Hong Kong, the couple founded their own company, Attractions International Ltd., offering specialized design services for the leisure and recreation industry, and began working on projects around the Asia-Pacific region, including Ocean Park Water Adventure in Hong Kong and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Queensland, Australia.
“We did lots of educational projects and immersion projects, merging nature and technology,” Korkos explained.
Family drew them back to Canada; Smulders’ ageing parents live in Aylmer along with his sister.
“I knew the Gatineau Hills was a beautiful place, so looked around and found a nice spot in Chelsea, and then, of course, we spent a lot of time in Wakefield because we think that's a gorgeous place.”
Smulders added that having travelled around the world working in the tourism industry, he couldn’t believe that a village such as Wakefield – with its natural scenery and aesthetic – could exist 20 minutes outside of a capital city.
“From an international perspective, this is amazing,” Smulders said. “It's surprising that it hasn't taken off more yet, but we can see Wakefield also coming to terms with a lot of tourists coming in and getting overrun.”
When the pair saw the opportunity to buy property on the waterfront, they said they couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“We contacted [former co-owners Gillian Lovink and Diane Morey] and said we were very interested,” Smulders explained. “Especially a project like that, with beautiful heritage, a great building and wonderful views.”
“We are looking to try to find a lot about the history, through the historical society, and talking to previous owners and relatives of [Robert] Earle,” Korkos explained. “We want to honour all of that and want to be very sensitive to [that history].”