Local Man wins cafe in essay contest

Dan Whillians has won a cafe through the Small Ritual Coffee Society by writing two essays.

A local man has won a cafe by entering an essay contest. Last August, the Small Ritual Coffee Society made headlines with their competition to win the White Rock-based business. Fernie resident Dan Whillans was encouraged to enter after hearing about it from family members.

Whillans was announced as the winner in late February, after writing two 200-word essays for the contest explaining what qualified him, in experience or spirit, to run a cafe and what business strategy he would utilize.

The original intent of the contest was to hand over the keys to the cafe in White Rock. However, due to complications with the lease in the building the café was located in, Whillans plans on bringing the business to Fernie, with his winnings of $100,000 in equipment and training.

“I want to create a space that has really good energy,” said Whillans in an interview with The Free Press.

Whillans operated a coffee truck last summer, and is passionate about quality coffee at a low price point. He hopes to open his café, named The Valley Social Company, in June.

The cafe will be located on Second Ave, operating next to Board Stiff. Currently, he is renovating the space and setting up the cafe.

A shortlist of 10 finalists was announced in mid-February. After receiving word of his win in late February, Whillans travelled to the Lower Mainland and packed a U-Haul truck full of equipment to bring back to Fernie. The biggest piece of equipment was an espresso machine, valued at $15,000.

Whillans values the community aspect in Fernie and wants to integrate that into his business.

“It’s the sense of community that is making this possible, and I want to carry that forth,” he said.