'Dream come true': Japanese bakery wins free lease in downtown Yellowknife
Seiji Suzuki wins City of Yellowknife contest designed to help revitalize downtown core
Ja-pain, a proposed Japanese-style bake shop, has won the City of Yellowknife's Win Your Space contest — and with it, a free one-year lease in downtown Yellowknife.
The idea, proposed by Seiji Suzuki, emerged the winner of the contest Wednesday night in a Dragon's Den-style event at Yellowknife City Hall, where five finalists presented their idea to a panel of judges.
As the winner, Suzuki will receive a one-year lease downtown, worth up to $4,000 a month, choosing from one of 11 locations. He will also win up to $10,000 in start-up money, and the City will waive his business licensing fee.
"It's fantastic," said Suzuki, who also runs downtown restaurant Sushi North. "Dream come true to open a bakery shop in the town."
The contest was launched by the City of Yellowknife in May, as the city continues efforts to revitalize its downtown. Participants were asked to submit a short video on a business they would like to bring downtown.
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Judges then chose 10 finalists from the submissions, finally narrowing it down to the final five, who presented at City Hall.
The judges deliberated for 40 minutes before making their final decision, which judge Yanik D'Aigle said was made with the territory's tourist clientele in mind.
"We felt as a jury team that they would be able to bring not only traffic in local clientele, local residents, but also tap into some of the tourism that would be coming in from outside of the Northwest Territories," he said.
Ja-pain edged out event and wedding planning and floral design business Let Me Knot, which finished second, and interior design firm N60 Interiors, which finished third.
Let Me Knot will receive a $5,000 lease credit towards commercial space in a building owned by real estate development firm Cloudworks as runner-up, while N60 Interiors will receive a one-year membership at the Good Company co-working office space.
with files from Jamie Malbeuf