Entrepreneur Spotlight

Photos and Story by NC Students: Michelle Gilmore & Brooke Hillier


Pictured Above: Andrew McLeod Chef & Owner of Bolete 


Before Bolete was even a thought, Andrew McLeod worked in an Italian restaurant as a dishwasher at a young age which pushed him into wanting to go to culinary school. He attended George Brown College in Toronto and he recently won the PEI International Shellfish Competition.

Andrew opened his restaurant in the heart of downtown St.Catharines back in late 2016 and he named the business after a type of mushroom “Bolete”.  The thing that makes his restaurant different from others in the area is they have a little bit of an “Asian flare” in the restaurant, lots of fish and other seafood preparations. Also, the fresh produce, winery “hookup” and having beehives plus along with gardens on the roof soon.

Pictured Above: Dining Area Inside the Restaurant 

When it comes to advertising, he relies on word-of-mouth style of advertisement. He says “It’s just a matter of getting people in here, trying it, enjoying it and telling their friends about it.”  The way he attracts people to the restaurant is that he doesn’t want the restaurant to have a “stuffy vibe”.

When you walk into the restaurant you feel right at home; no table cloths, menu prices down with the wine and food so it's affordable. He does this because he wants people to return more than just once or twice a year on a birthday or anniversary.  

Pictured Above: Table Setting in the Dining Area 


Being in downtown St.Catharines helps bring in customers to the business. When they get customers, they are usually coming from the Meridian Centre or big events that occur, like when curling was going on they got a lot of people coming in.

“It’s a good push for the business and I think a lot of businesses down here have been doing very well because of it.”  

Pictured Above: Brand Logo for the Restaurant 

One of the main problems he was faced with the restaurant was the construction. Because of it, it took 2 years to be able to open the business. There was so much construction that needed to be done before opening it. He needed so many permits, but he also needed to be cautious because the restaurant is in a 150-year-old building.

His solution to when overcoming problems like this is keep an open mind and keep hoping that everything is going to turn out right. Yes, there was times where you would get frustrated and have doubts, but if you have perseverance you can get through it.

“I can’t do everything by myself, so surrounding yourself around amazing people makes it easier.”  

Chef Andrew Mcleod has an account named “chefmcleod” which is chef’s personal Instagram page where he posts about the competitions, food and other things that he is involved in. (Link  below)

Visit Bolete on 176 St. Paul Street in downtown St.Catharines!

Learn more about Bolete online at: 






Keep Good Co. 

Photos and story by NC Photography Students: Ashley and Bianca

Pictured Above: Nancy Kapodistrias owner and founder of Keep Good Co. 

Nancy Kapodistrias always wanted to open her own business, and mindful design is something she's always been interested in. While working at Craft Arts Market, Nancy could see how much retail was needed downtown, because of the response they were seeing;

"I wanted to be able to just create something different, something St. Catharines hasn't seen before, to start making people think in a different way almost. A different approach to their homes and their lifestyles, so that's what I was hoping to inspire."

This lead her to creating her business known as Keep Good Co. which opened on November 4th, 2016 in St.Catharines. It draws inspiration from the Scandinavian design movement and the philosophies behind that, which is keep what you love around you and that you don't need a lot of stuff to be happy.

"Being a minimalist is not necessarily having one thing, it's just having things that make you a happy person."

Picture Above: Inside her store 

She has had a great response in the community, the general community is really happy about another new thing. Feels that the rejuvenation of downtown is happening and people are excited about a new place to buy gifts for special occasions.  

                                                                                                                                                                    Pictured Above: Products she sells in her store                                                      


Pictured Above: Nancy putting products on display 

Her advice to small business owners out there who are  just starting out is do things one step at a time, really do your research, every penny you put in does count, if you do a partnership make sure you have a partnership agreement, and finally prepare whatever comes your way.  

"You start with this little tiny idea that you've written down on paper, or just a little Pinterest board almost...and making it become a reality in itself is really rewarding...opening day, being able to function properly and have a space that you're proud of....just making a vision a reality is rewarding in itself."

Visit the store located at 283 St. Paul Street East. St. Catharines, Ontario!

Learn more about Keep Good Co. Online: 






Rise Above
Photos and Story by NC Students: Brittany, Eleen and Rade

Pictured Above: Brian Gasbarini Owner of Rise Above

 Pictured Above: Brian Gasbarini Owner of Rise Above 

Brian Gasbarini is the owner of the vegan themed restaurant and bakery known as Rise Above which is located in downtown St.Catharines. He has owned the  establishment for the past four years and he got ownership of it from the previous owner he worked for.  
In past years, the business used to be a bakery but when Brian got to take over he wanted to expand it to a restaurant, which has created a lot of success for them.

Pictured Above: Inside the Restaurant 

The objective of their business is that they want to give people in the community an option that can benefit their lifestyle in a healthy/environmentally way. Also, offering a variety of different food choices shows their customers that being vegan has so many options and that can be easy with a little effort.   

Pictured Above: Menus for their restaurant 

Pictured Above:  The Dining Area with paintings by local and Toronto artists

One of the amazing aspects of the restaurant, is the different paintings they showcase on their walls which are done by local artists in the niagara region and also from the city of Toronto. When the one of the works are sold, they get about 10% of the profit from it.   

Pictured Above: Menus for their bakery

His advice for individuals that want to open up their own business is that it takes a lot of work and effort to get off the ground. Also, treat it like a business not a family and motivate yourself to stay on track. When it comes to hiring, don’t hire someone just because you like them.     

Make sure you’re ready to start a business, if you still want to have fun then wait until you’re ready to really commit to it.

Visit Rise Above on 120 St Paul Street in downtown St.Catharines! 


Learn more about Rise Above online: 

Coston Handcrafted

Photos and story by NC Digital Photography students, Michelle Bruce and Jesus Maza. 

Coston Entrepreneur Spotlight

Corey Hamilton and Paul Costello, both recent Niagara College grads, are the co-owners and craftsman behind the custom furniture business Coston Handcrafted located in Port Colborne. After sitting down with both of them you quickly realize they aren’t just craftsman but artists and wood is the medium they’ve chosen to create with.

Co-owners, friends, former bandmates and as they put it “brothers”, they have known each other for over twenty years. Both come from a family of hobby woodworkers who managed to unintentionally influence their skills in the workshop.

Coston Entrepreneur Spotlight

Coston Handcrafted is not only their business but also their creative outlet. They specialize in traditional custom furniture such as dining tables, chairs, signage and everything in between. Traditional woodworking methods guarantee the integrity of every piece. Their love for Scandinavian and Japanese design allows for specialty design requests. Ask Corey or Paul anything about the wood they work with and you’ll be pleased with the amount of knowledge, value and respect they have for the medium they refer to as organic materials.

Coston Handcrafted isn’t your average local business. Corey and Paul are always willing to take the extra time to add special touches and refusing to rush through any of their orders, as every piece is meant to last.

Corey and Paul are family guys with strong roots in the community of Port Colborne and are happy to keep it that way. Both married. Paul has an 18 month old son who you will find stopping by the workshop to visit with his Daddy while Corey and his wife are awaiting their newest addition, a little girl due to arrive this August. When asked where they see themselves in 5 years it became apparent that these two guys aren’t your typical “get rich, live big” types, since their dream would be to buy a nice, big property in Wainfleet with room for both their families and a workshop where they could create custom pieces as often as they want.

Coston Entrepreneur Spotlight

Coston Handcrafted is the kind of local family business you want to get to know and invite into your home. With every purchase you can enjoy the fact that you’re not lining someone’s already full pockets. In fact, what you’re doing is helping Corey Hamilton and Paul Costello provide for their new families and live their dream jobs all while getting them a little closer with every purchase to the Coston Homestead they dream of one day owning.

They are why you buy and support local.

Learn more about Coston Handcrafted online at: