The owner of The Poor Creature invited customers and supporters to visit the café Tuesday to show support since a petition was filed against it in the territory’s Supreme Court.
Traolach Ó Murchú and Brioni Connolly welcomed everyone into their establishment at the Yukonstruct Innovation Centre (the former Food Fair/Super Valu building) on Second Avenue.
Yukonstruct filed the petition earlier this month, seeking to evict The Poor Creature from the centre.
Connolly, the café’s owner, said she wanted to push back on allegations made in Yukonstruct’s affidavit. She said there have been suggestions that she and Ó Murchú have been neglecting their child.
“I’m just hoping to see more support,” she said.
She regards Northlight as a great space that helps entrepreneurs.
Ó Murchú said there has been strong support from Yukonstruct members which has been phenomenal. These are the café’s primary customers.
The managing board is a different story. Ó Murchú said the board, last Thursday, publicly questioned his and Connolly’s parental abilities.
He claims this had led to the family receiving a lot of online abuse.
(Yukonstruct’s petition says the couple’s child has seemed upset and has cried for extended periods while at the café.)
Ó Murchú pointed out that a lot of men have called Connolly a bad mother. He claims people have sent them direct messages. He explained that came out through the affidavit.
This online behaviour has made them not want to be out in public. He said the family did not go out much last weekend.
“We were uncomfortable going out into public because of the comments that I have read online,” Ó Murchú said.
He felt that people were just reacting to Yukonstruct’s side of the story and not bothering to wait to hear the other side.
“It’s a difficult thing to read things about yourself that are untrue and make you out to be something you’re not,” Ó Murchú said.
Connolly always planned to open a café. She filed a proposal for the establishment, saying it would be a parent-friendly space.
They thought everything was fine until she received a letter on Oct. 11 informing them of this complaint.
He said his wife has great support in the community and from members of the organization, adding people visit with their kids. He added that if Yukonstruct wants to claim that their child was the only one there making noise, that is false.
He said many of the people showing support that day are regulars who frequently bring their kids.
Connolly has been looking to move the café to another location, as she does not feel welcome in the centre anymore.
They will be filing a response to the affidavit, perhaps later this week.
Heiko Haehnsen brought his young child to the café Tuesday. He said he just recently discovered The Poor Creature. He likes the food options available there, and finds it welcoming.
Haehnsen has never had any concerns bringing his child there.
He went on Facebook to like it and learned about the troubles. He hopes the conflict gets settled, and that Yukonstruct tries to mediate it.
He felt going forward with the current strategy would damage its reputation.
Shane Maley said he was happy to support The Poor Creature. He said it has been a great place for his family to meet and enjoy a great meal.
He often brings his eight-month-old daughter to the café. He has never had a disruptive bothersome experience there.
“The concerns have not reflected my experience here at all,” Maley said.
He too said he hopes for a resolution because of the café’s value to the community.
Lana Selbee, Yukonstruct’s executive director, issued an emailed statement to the Star, which first reported the restaurant’s eviction notice last month.
“Since day one, Yukonstruct has been a community-driven organization. We ourselves are a start-up that has grown quickly, and we are so proud to manage a space that serves over 200 members and many local businesses, makers and start-ups,” Selbee wrote.
“Supporting and creating a productive and positive working environment for our members and tenants is our number one goal.”
She said the relationship with the café did not work out, so it was decided not to renew its lease.
She indicated that Yukonstruct tried to make the arrangement work, but ultimately found it not in its best interest to renew the lease. She said notice was provided.
“We also offered to provide additional accommodations and supports, including providing a reasonable period of additional time beyond the end of the lease to transition out of the space,” Selbee wrote in the statement. “We are now working, through legal means, to bring a resolution to this situation that respects both parties. “
Selbee explained that members rent spaces with the expectation that there will not be “excessive disturbances.”
She added that members deserve to be able to have productive discussions and should be able to voice concerns safely.
All Yukonstruct members must be respected, Selbee added, and there will be no tolerance for behaviour that is contrary to the organization’s values.
“We are proud of the work our organization, our board and our staff do every day, and we look forward to continuing to serve our members and our community,” she wrote in the email.