Relieve the team

At Cassis Monna & Filles in Saint-Pierre-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, the blackcurrant harvest has just come to an end. Anne and Catherine breathe a sigh of relief. The time to pick the little black fruits always comes during the busy construction holidays. This year the challenge was even greater as the sisters had just opened a second gourmet address, La Midinette, in Saint-Jean on the other side of the island.

“It takes courage to launch something new in 2022,” says Anne, referring to the inflationary context and the shortage of workers.

At the same time, this project to take over La Boulange, the former property of Dominique Brown (Chocolats Favoris), despite the challenges they had to face, was an opportunity for the two sisters to renew their vows.

Complementarity again

“I saw this purchase as bad timing but Catherine made me visit and I saw such an inspiring playground! In the creation process, we reviewed the strength of our complementarity,” says Anne, who has run the family business with Catherine for 20 years.

La Midinette expresses her frivolous side, the freedom of the beach next door. Checking together the furnishings of the old house, inventing a menu, all this brought them back to pleasure after two years marked by COVID-19, its inconveniences and its questions. Did they carelessly bet everything on agritourism?

Did you want to continue together? Finally no and yes!

In 2021 they launched a gin that celebrates the plant, whose branches and leaves are also very aromatic.

It is a tribute to her father Bernard, the first in Quebec to grow blackcurrants, who popularized her by making wines 30 years ago. He still lives on the family property and walks around his daughters’ businesses, and their boldness in business doesn’t always reassure him – it often does between generations of entrepreneurs.

I imagine that as we get older we are less willing to take risks, but because there are young people around, companies stay innovative and keep growing. Bernard Monna liked the very small business model while his daughters are motivated by impulses to create and grow.

A magnet

Also, as soon as they arrived, they opened La Monnaguette with three pennies and a friend in the kitchen. Today, the restaurant, which honors blackcurrants while offering gorgeous river views, is a coveted gourmet stop on the island; a magnet that benefits other traders. Because the influence of the Monna sisters attracts many visitors who also shop in the surrounding area.

Previously, Catherine and Anne were told that their father should be proud of them. Now we tell them: “We are proud of you!”

“I even saw a lady shed tears and say to me, ‘Thank you for La Boulange, thank you for the island!'” says Catherine.

At its core, Monnas are selling fun. The pandemic fatigue nagging at many makes them work twice as hard to generate it.

Maybe the lack of joy for two years creates a kind of commitment.

Either way, ambition gets people off. So when clients imagine the sweetness of their lives full of joys, unaware of the zeal of the work, they know they have succeeded as a team, with Audrey, her trusty right hand, Raphaël, her master distiller, and all the others who the smile at customers.

Cassis Monna & daughters

  • Founding year: 1992
  • Founder: Bernhard Mona
  • Place of registered office: Saint-Pierre-de-l’Ile-d’Orleans
  • Field of activity: agritourism
  • Number of employees: 85

PROFILE OF CATHERINE AND ANNE MONNA

  • Work: Owner
  • Age: 44 and 41 years old
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts, DEC in Cinema

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