Why I started a petition for the Juniper Café

Explaining the Kingston hangout's value

The Juniper Cafe first opened in 2016.
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The Juniper Café at the Tett Center was a beloved part of my routine the past two years—I enjoy it so much, the café’s staff learned my order off by heart. That’s why I decided to start a petition on Change.org asking to “Save Juniper,” after a leaked email from café owner Amber Thom implied the café was closing.

By the end of Jan. 16—the day I created the petition—nearly 2,000 signatures had been received, which grew to over 5,000 by the time I closed the petition on Jan. 19.

The petition also received a number of heartwarming comments from students, as well as various Queen’s alumni from across Canada who fondly remember the café. The comments, signatures, and shares the petition received on social media speak to the affection Juniper’s customers have for its staff, which compelled so many of them to show support.

After the overwhelming response to the petition—which also sent an email to Tett Board members and the Mayor of Kingston’s office following each signature—the City and Tett Board were able to reach a deal which extended the Juniper’s lease, allowing Amber and her staff to remain in the space.

This extension is great news for Queen’s students; it’s no secret the café is one of the most relaxing study and food spots on campus.

The Juniper Café, known for its excellent coffee, food, and cobblestone patio looking onto Lake Ontario, has become a staple for Queen’s students since its 2016 opening next to the Isabel Bader Centre. While Film and Drama students at the Bader are notorious for picking up a coffee there between classes, the Juniper’s service and environment draw in students from all over campus.

In its short time since opening, the establishment has become a sort of safe haven for people to recuperate from their busy days. It always calms me down to walk in and interact with the friendly staff, enjoying coffee in a tranquil environment. Becoming acquainted with the remarkable staff is an experience I wish every university student could experience.

A unique facet of the Juniper is its wide-ranging customer base. There’s often tension between Queen’s students and Kingston locals. The Juniper is one of few places where you can frequently find parents and their children enjoying the café beside studying students.

Interacting with local café-goers, whether it’s through saying hello to the children at the café or watching a Kingston resident’s belongings for a moment may seem ordinary, but these moments feel notable when that trust between students and residents is virtually non-existent in other places on campus.

When the email about the Juniper’s potential closing was shared publicly, I wanted to show the staff the love both Queen’s students and the Kingston community have for their establishment.

The Juniper Café connects its customers from all over Kingston like few other places in the city and is an important win for the small business owners running it.

It shows how important it is for students to stand up for the establishments that enrich our university experience.

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