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CBC: Joel Plaskett to open café New Scotland Yard Emporium in Dartmouth

Café will be located at 45 Portland St. and will open Oct. 10

By David Irish, CBC News

Nova Scotia musician Joel Plaskett is opening a business in Dartmouth where you’ll be able to sip a cup of coffee while reading the liner notes of a newly-bought record — all while getting your ears lowered.

The New Scotland Yard Emporium, attached to Plaskett’s studio, will hold its grand opening on Oct. 10 at 45 Portland St. The 800-square-foot retail space is currently under renovations and will feature a café, a barbershop and a selection of records to buy.

“I’m really excited about it. I’m a little nervous I think everybody is,” Plaskett told CBC.

“But I think Portland is sort of a — it’s a really neat street and I’m just conscious of trying to contribute to the energy on that street, bring some records and music back to the street as well.”

Plaskett is joining entrepreneurial forces with Jimmy Donnelly, owner of Taz Records; Chris Pennell, Plaskett’s bass player who is also a hair stylist; Alex Babineau, a long-serving local barista who will manage the café; and Cait Homes, who owns a pastry business called Honey and Butter.

“It will be a leaner selection of records but I think it will still be really great. The barber’s chair in the back corner and the to-go coffee scenario in the front corner with just a couple of seats in the window. So it’s not a big café.”

This venture, he says, is an extension of being in the music business where the aim is to connect with people coming and going.

“With this group shop, I think it’s again trying to be sort of community minded, but also, what do I want to see? What do I want in close proximity?” Plaskett said, laughing.

‘If you build it, they’ll come’

The impetus was two-fold, he says. Bringing customers to Portland Street is as important as his attempt at diversifying.

“My livelihood is on the road but I don’t want it to be exclusively there. Records don’t sell the way they used to so you can’t rely on all your record sales to do this,” he said.

Plaskett says the look of the café will be minimalistic but he wants to bring the “romantic” aesthetic of the recording studio to the Emporium.

“You can’t replace everything with,” he said. “And a real nice place is part of the trick.”

Developing the business has been exhausting, he says. He’s on the home stretch, but Plaskett said while putting the finishing touches on the café, he will first fly to Ireland and the Arctic.

Still, he says, the hard work is worth it.

“I just figured, ‘Well, If we have the space, and make the space nice,’ then if you build it, they’ll come,” he said.

“I really believe in the neighbourhood and the people in it and so I just think, well, if I’m in a position to contribute to the street and bring more energy, more activity, and more people to the street then then it could be sort of a win-win.”

Paskett says he’s currently writing music when he can. But sometime next year, he hopes to slip in to the recording studio behind the café to shift focus back to his own music.