Marker 47 brings coffee row atmosphere to downtown La Ronge

LA RONGE — As the first customers of the morning amble into Marker 47, the chilly street outside the downtown La Ronge coffee shop already smells like cinnamon buns, ginger cookies and fresh coffee.

After opening less than a year ago, the shop has already become a fixture in the community — even winning a local business award for entrepreneurship.

Local road crews in their hi-vis vests drop in on their breaks, while others stop by on their way to work or filter in throughout the day to grab a snack, curl up on the cozy furniture and linger over a board game.

For owner Abby Besharah, all these moments are reasons to celebrate. After a lot of hard work, her vision for a cozy coffee nook in downtown La Ronge is coming to life.

“The whole concept of the space was to be about community — a place for community to come gather, to have a good coffee, to sit, to study,” she said. “And people are starting to really embrace it.”

To get the coffee shop open, Besharah’s friends and neighbours banded together to help out. They held art auctions, spread the word, and even spent late nights at the shop painting walls and laying flooring.

“It’s so much bigger than me,” Besharah said.

As she looks forward to Marker 47’s one-year anniversary, Besharah said the year ahead will bring more opportunities to give back to the community that has embraced her so wholeheartedly.

“This will be a space for artists to be able to display their work or have shows, and for community groups to use the space after hours,” she said.

Besharah moved to La Ronge in 2013, for a job in urban and regional planning. When she started drawing up plans for Marker 47, she knew she would be relying on other skills as well, including her certificate in pastry arts from the Culinary Institute of Canada.

Predictably, the shop’s baked goods were an instant hit.

“Early on, I thought, ‘Well, let’s see if I can make some cinnamon buns,’ ” Besharah recalled. “So I found and tweaked a recipe — and since making those in the first couple of weeks, I have not been allowed to not make them.”

Another constant is the ethically-sourced coffee, purchased from Saskatchewan-based coffee roaster Road Coffee, which buys the beans directly from farmers.

The menu is also full of surprises.

“A lot of the baking is whatever we come up with that day,” Besharah said. “We’re just constantly baking, and a lot of the time I leave it up to my staff to find a cookie, to come up with a cookie, to develop something they like. So we have an ever-changing baking menu, which I think people enjoy.

“It’s kind of a lottery — what are you going to get at Marker 47 today?”

Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix