After announcing its eviction and launching an online fundraiser, a downtown Ottawa business that supported the so-called Freedom Convoy has raised more than $30,000.
The Iconic Cafe, located on Slater Street just a few blocks from Parliament Hill, stayed open during the weeks-long occupation in downtown Ottawa and was used as a staging area for protesters — in some instances, prominent protest leaders would broadcast on social media from inside the cafe.
On Wednesday, a post on the business's social media account said Iconic Cafe was being evicted from its location and shared a link to GiveSendGo, an online fundraiser popular among supporters of the protesters.
Cafe owner Enrico Kuhn declined to be interviewed.
"The Iconic Café remained open for business while the Freedom Convoy 2022 was in town from late January to February 2022," according to the GiveSendGo description. "Unfortunately, Enrico and the Iconic Café have been evicted from their premises."
Within four hours, a little more than $22,000 had been raised and the owners listed a goal of $80,000.
Metcalfe Realty Company Ltd. would not share information about its relationship with the outgoing tenants, but confirmed the space is being vacated and will, at some point, be up for lease.
Brenda Lee, who answered the phone number linked to the cafe, said she has been volunteering to help. She said Kuhn was told in an email earlier this week the business was being evicted "because of failure to pay rent" and must vacate the space by March 23.
"They locked him out, they changed the lock and they took his Iconic Cafe sign down," she said.
A well-known social media channel associated with the Freedom Convoy shared a short video Thursday showing a handful of supporters inside the cafe cleaning it up.
"Everybody is in there volunteering, helping to try and get him out as soon as possible," said Lee. "Everything is moved out of there, except for the larger stuff."
Lee said Kuhn is in good spirits and remains "strong in [his] faith."
Kuhn has not faced any charges related to the protest.