Stella Luna owner steps aside, allows son to build business as a ‘collective space’ – Kitchissippi times

Zachary Giuliani (still left) and his fiancé Christopher Berneck (appropriate) have taken more than Stella Luna. Image by Zenith Wolfe.

By Zenith Wolfe

With a drive to put the controversy of the previous 12 months behind them, the new proprietors of Ottawa’s Stella Luna Gelato Cafe are eager to proceed to construct the company as an inclusive, welcoming room.

The gelato and coffee store was very first opened by Tammy Giuliani on Financial institution Street close to Sunnyside Avenue in 2011 as a loved ones organization. About the decades, the nearby favorite dessert spot expanded to 3 a lot more places in Wellington Village, Carleton Location and Merrickville.

Having said that, Stella Luna grew to become embroiled in controversy past year through the “Freedom Convoy” occupation, when Tammy built an anonymous $250 donation via fundraising platform GiveSendGo. A data leak unveiled her donation, which she afterwards explained she regretted, sparking threats of violence toward workers and triggering her to temporarily shut the store.

Past thirty day period, Giuliani’s son Zachary Giuliani took above as the second-era operator together with his fiancé, Christopher Berneck.

“I’m happy to be stepping to the facet whilst the up coming generation normally takes around,” Tammy reported in an e-mail. “(Zachary and Christopher) have worked tirelessly in excess of the past 10 years and are incredibly enthusiastic to guide the way forward, bringing fresh new thoughts and enthusiasm to the neighborhood.”

Tammy is no longer included in working Stella Luna, though she provides gelato catering at weddings.

Zachary admits that some consumers have hardly ever neglected or forgiven the incident previous yr and that it has impacted how folks perceive Stella Luna. Whilst he says he does not assume everyone to arrive back, he hopes the local community will notice his determination to rebuilding an inclusive and participating area.

“Our goal is to present through instance,” Zachary mentioned, adding that Stella Luna tries to continue being “apolitical.”

Zachary claims all-around 50 % of Stella Luna’s workers of extra than 50 folks detect as aspect of the LGBTQ2S+ local community. They have assorted social and cultural sights, with workers hailing from nations around the world such as Germany, India and Portugal.

Since the incident last 12 months lifted a good deal of fears among the crew, Zachary states he engages in open discussions with them.

The method has been tricky, he admits. Owning labored at the spouse and children business enterprise because he was 16 in just about every position from janitor to barista to supervisor, the pounds of obligation mounted unexpectedly for the duration of the pandemic, he claims. Two several years of tension and uncertainty were capped off by the convoy’s arrival, the “scariest time” in his grownup existence, he remembers.

Zachary hands a bowl of gelato to a customer.
Zachary Giuliani explained he’s searching to build Stella Luna as a welcoming, inclusive room. Photo by Zenith Wolfe.

As a trauma counsellor, he claims he understood he had to cooperate with the community to shift forward. He claims this final decision pulled his personnel jointly.

“The staff grew to become component of my household in a more true way than ever in advance of simply because we found a prevalent ground,” Zachary mentioned. “We’re all right here since we appreciate the company and have differing opinions. But when you are portion of this enterprise, you are liked.”

That atmosphere is primarily essential, offered that some of the staff members have chosen to make the company their occupation – a level of devotion that Zachary claims is uncommon for the marketplace. This is informing his new philosophy to make potential decisions in session with his personnel, he says.

“I explain to them all the time, ‘I want to make this your dream occupation,’” he explained. “We want to employ the awareness and the techniques of all our crew. We’re going a lot more from a solitary-narrative place to a collective area.”

Zachary and Berneck satisfied in 2018 when learning at Toronto Metropolitan College, formerly Ryerson College. Despite being in different programs – Zachary in psychology, Berneck in manner design and style – they fulfilled in a shared sociology of sport class.

Immediately after dating for two months, Zachary invited his boyfriend to perform at Stella Luna’s Merrickville locale more than the summertime. Berneck mentioned he jumped at the prospect. 

“It was an prospect for us to genuinely delve into the depths of our romance,” Berneck reported. “We were being residing there, working there (as) the only two employees. It taught us some precious classes.”

Chocolate gelato sits in a red bowl atop of a counter.
Stella Luna is identified for their internationally award-successful gelato. Photo by Zenith Wolfe.

Berneck is placing his visible arts education to good use by turning the partitions of Stella Luna’s Wellington Village and Bank Street locations into galleries. He ideas to host a series of art exhibitions that rotate each individual two months, showcasing nearby artists observed as a result of the networking portal Ottawa Arts Motor. The first show will open in Could.

“It’s tricky to get your artwork out there,” Berneck reported. “I consider there is always a lot more house that ought to be devoted to art and I know that Ottawa has a large arts scene.”

They are internet hosting the launch of a new style line made by a area designer on May possibly 29 and have various live audio performances in the pipeline. They’ve also partnered with Quebec-centered maple syrup distributor Älska Farm, Ottawa-based mostly Shanti Tea and other nearby artisans.

Zachary states it is all portion of his target to supply Ottawa with a safe and sound, neighborhood-constructing place. On a larger scale, it is also his way of advertising and building connections concerning neighborhood businesses that have been struggling to remain afloat by the pandemic, he adds.

“The major panic for a smaller organization is that we’re all likely to get taken out and replaced by a significant company,” he mentioned. “To endure, we definitely do have to operate together.”

The exterior of Stella Luna on Wellington Street West.
The Stella Luna location at 1130 Wellington St. W, is the franchises second location. Photograph by Zenith Wolfe.