Naomi Barghiel, Western Journalism Studio

Feb 4, 2022

Sign at the Black Walnut Café

Amid the recent snowstorms, downtown London’s Black Walnut Café continues to warm people’s stomachs and hearts with their outdoor signs.

In cursive handwriting, Thursday’s chalkboard read: “Warm your Cinnamon Hearts with our Cinnamon feature Latte.” Underneath was a Valentine’s Day themed drawing of an arrow shot through a purple heart.

The Café’s supervisor, Jared Brown, said that the signs have drawn lots of positive commentary from customers. 

“We’ve had people say they want the drink that’s out on the sign because the picture’s cute,” Brown said. “That connection is part of why I love working here.”

Café employees make a new sign ­every time they want to showcase a new feature drink, which is about once a week, Brown said. The board typically features a pun that incorporates the title of the drink, along with a drawing to match.

The messages have received more compliments this winter than in the fall, Brown said. He believes it’s because people are looking for something to raise their spirits in the cold. 

Brown said he hopes the signs “make things a little easier,” for people whether coming back from a skate at Victoria Park or feeling miserable from the weather.

“Throw in a snowstorm with a pandemic and you have yourself a load of people who need cheering up,” he said.

Madison Foster (left) inside with Jared Brown (right)

Though the 25-year-old has only worked at the Black Walnut since August of last year, Brown said the outdoor chalkboard has been around since this location of the franchise was built in 2015. 

“I think they thought it reflected the charm of the café,” he said. “I’d agree and say people notice that.”

Though Brown doesn’t write on the signs himself, he works with several other employees to decide what gets displayed. One of the chalkboard’s artists, Madison Foster, said she enjoys the creative element of the job.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I’m a creative person so it feels good when people like what I’ve done.”

The sign is typically on display in front of the café’s steps but was tucked under the safety of the entrance canopy yesterday due to the strong winds and snow London has been experiencing this week.

Black Walnut Café ‘s downtown location can be found at 724 Richmond St.

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