Ottawa's Thyme & Again brings a kitchen party of friends to opening of second location

Thriving caterer and food shop expands business by revamping former beer store on Carling Avenue
Thyme & Again
Sheila Whyte is joined by Stephen Beckta from the Beckta Dining & Wine Bar, Play food & wine, and Gezellig restaurants, and Joanne York at Thyme & Again’s Kitchen Party. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

When members of the public caught wind that the new Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop might be ready for customers, they began lining up outside Friday morning and waiting for the doors to open.

It was a good sign for owner Sheila Whyte but, while on the subject of signs, it also meant she needed to get one hung up in the window right away — clarifying that opening day was right around the corner.

Thyme & Again had been busy that day preparing for its large Kitchen Party to celebrate its new second location, opening Tuesday at 1845 Carling Ave., next to Produce Depot.

What a party it was, with a turnout of some 250 invited guests.

Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Jeff Leiper came by for the official ribbon cutting. There was also the presentation of a framed letter of congratulations by the mayor, who declared Thyme & Again to be "everyone's favourite, and the best caterer in the world". (Oh, Mr. Mayor, I bet you say that to all the caterers).

It was presented to Whyte and new managing partner Michael Moffatt.

Thyme & Again
From left, Coun. Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi Ward), with Clayton Kennedy and his wife, Ottawa businesswoman Sheila Whyte, along with Mayor Jim Watson and managing partner Michael Moffatt at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Thyme & Again’s second location on Carling Avenue. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
Mayor Jim Watson presented Thyme & Again owner Sheila Whyte and managing partner Michael Moffatt a framed letter of congratulations at a party they threw Friday, May 4, 2018, to celebrate the opening of a second location on Carling Avenue. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Several months ago, Whyte had decided it was time to launch a second location, knowing that Thyme & Again had outgrown its space at 1255 Wellington St. W. The expansion came together nicely after she found a suitable location with ample free parking in the same general vicinity as her other store, and after she was able to recruit Moffatt, who’d just left his long-time position as executive chef for Beckta Dining and Wine Bar, and its sister restaurants.

Building owner David Barstead had been looking for a new tenant that would complement his neighbouring grocery store, Produce Depot. When Thyme & Again came along, he knew it would be a good fit.

“We couldn’t have been any happier,” Barstead told OBJ.social. “They have such a great reputation. When we asked around about them, people couldn’t say enough good things. Everyone just raved about their food and their catering.”

Thyme & Again
Thyme & Again owner Sheila Whyte and managing partner Michael Moffat, are surrounded by their family at a party to celebrate the opening of the company's second location. From left, Donna Naufal Moffatt and her husband, Michael Moffatt, with their 11-year-old son Jacob Moffatt, with Sheila Whyte and her sons, Adam Kennedy, 14, Teagan Kennedy, 18, and husband Clayton Kennedy. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
From left, David Barstead and his business partner, Rodger Stewart, co-owners of Produce Depot, at Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop's celebration, held Friday, May 4, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Partygoers were encouraged to tour around the new space and go behind the scenes into the kitchen area.

“Who knew a beer store could look this good?” quipped Hugh Neilson, managing director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company.

The place did, indeed, formerly do business as The Beer Store. To honour its roots, the shop has hung in the back a framed black-and-white photo of an old Brewers Retail Store, with horse-drawn beer wagons in the foreground.

Workers managed to transform the vacant building, in very short order, into a fresh, welcoming and beautiful new space envisioned by interior architect and designer Tania Kratt. She and Whyte work together to help organize the popular Riverkeeper Gala held each spring to raise funds for Ottawa Riverkeeper, a local environmental group.

Thyme & Again
From left, Ottawa Riverkeeper board member Colleen Westeinde with Tania Kratt, Sheila Whyte and Penny Schroeder, who's also on the organizing committee for the annual Riverkeeper Gala in support of Ottawa Riverkeeper, at the Kitchen Party for the opening of Thyme & Again's second location on Carling Avenue. Photo by Caroline Phillips

OBJ.social could detect the slightest whiff of fresh paint upon entering the store, before most of the other guests had arrived. The scent was easily explained by Kratt, who had made a last-minute decision to turn the bathroom’s white walls into a colour known as Iron Mountain (imagine warm grey, with brown undertones).

The new store has a timeless charm and comfortable feel, like a modern version of an old general store.

“We didn’t want it to feel minimal but we also didn’t want it to feel overstuffed,” said Moffatt. “It’s a nice balance.”

Thyme & Again
The Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop on Carling Avenue was transformed from an old beer store by interior architect and designer Tania Kratt into a fresh and welcoming new space for customers. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The party featured food stations with gourmet sandwiches, oysters, charcuterie and cheeses. Servers passed around such canapés as vegetable pakoras with a tamarind chutney, veal pozole with a caramelized cornbread crumble, smoked salmon pâté and pickled vegetable rice paper rolls. The mac & cheese tater tots (heck, you only live once) also got great reviews. Put to work at the party were Whyte's two teenaged sons, Adam and Teagan.

Attendees included Jeff York, co-CEO of successful Canadian food retailer Farm Boy, and his wife, Joanne. One of their daughters is getting married at the Canadian Museum of Nature this fall and they’ve hired Thyme & Again to cater the wedding. 

Other notables included well-known entrepreneur, writer and 1310 News radio host Mark Sutcliffe, who had Thyme & Again on his mind (or, more specifically, its lemon cheesecake) when he ran the Boston Marathon last month, according to his Twitter feed.

Thyme & Again
Jeff York with his wife, Joanne, at the Kitchen Party hosted by Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop on Friday, May 4, 2018. The floral arrangement in the background was a gift from Bloomfields Flowers to congratulate Thyme & Again on its success. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
Sheila Whyte, owner of Thyme & Again, with Mark Sutcliffe at the Kitchen Party hosted by Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop on Friday, May 4, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The crowd was thick with recognizable faces, from Ottawa restaurateur Stephen Beckta and his new executive chef Katie Brown Ardington, to retired chef Robert Bourassa and Parkdale Food Centre manager Karen Secord, to Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon and cookbook author Margaret Dickenson, who recently lost her well-known and well-liked husband, retired diplomat Larry Dickenson, to cancer. 

Also spotted were Carley Schelck, president and CEO of The Urban Element, with Laryssa Korbutiak of Oresta Organic Skin Care Apothecary, Kichesippi Beer Co. owner Paul Meek and former Ottawa mayor Jacquelin Holzman. She lives so close to the new store that she’s planning to make it her go-to destination for meals. 

Other guests included representatives from Canadian northern airline company First Air, who hired Thyme & Again to provide meals for its flights between Ottawa and Iqaluit, two days a week, after tasting the caterer's venison stew at a fundraising event. 

Thyme & Again
From left, Jacquelin Holzman with Grete Hale at the Kitchen Party hosted by Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop on Friday, May 4, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
From left, Tyler Ernst and Elena Ramirez from First Air with Thyme & Again's Susan Anderson and Sheila Whyte, along with First Air's Victoria Langley and Tony Hicks at the Kitchen Party hosted by Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop on Friday, May 4, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
From left, Liz Nowak with Margaret Dickenson and retired chef Robert Bourassa at the Kitchen Party hosted by Thyme & Again Kitchen + Food Shop on Friday, May 4, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, from Greenspon Granger Hill, with Josée DesRosiers, head of retail merchandising at Thyme & Again, at the catering company's Kitchen Party held on Friday, May 4, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
From left, Carley Schelck with Karen Secord and Laryssa Korbutiak at Thyme & Again’s Kitchen Party held to celebrate the opening of its second location. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
From left, Ian Engelberg and his husband, Ottawa community builder Joseph Cull, at Thyme & Again’s Kitchen Party held on Friday, May 4, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
From left, Paul Meek with Jim Kyte, dean of the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Algonquin College,  at Thyme & Again’s Kitchen Party. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Thyme & Again
From left, Jennifer Crossman, marketing and merchandising manager, with catering coordinators Diane Goodwin, Bridget McLean, general manager Rose Goyette, catering coordinators Whitney Zelmer and Sandra Saikaly at Thyme & Again’s Kitchen Party held Friday, May 4, 2018, to celebrate the opening of its second location. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca