For the last 50 years, the restaurant has been owned and operated by Youssef Nakle who is now retired.
“A couple of Youssef’s old customers are disappointed—very resistant to change—which is fine, what are you gonna do?” says Lisa laughing. “You can’t win everybody over, but we’re just trying to be friendly and hopefully we can please people.”
“Funnily enough [Youssef and I are] from the same village in Lebanon. I’m 3rd generation Lebanese here in Canada and our families come from the same village in Lebanon. Maybe if we looked back we might be distantly related,” says Lisa. “I am distantly related to the people who used to own the original Cedar, the Saads. Our families are distantly related to them and I used to come here when I was a kid to the Cedar Lunch because I lived on Saunders Street. So it’s really funny to be in there now.”
Though the combos have changed, the menu is still based on traditional Lebanese cooking.
New to the business is Lisa and David’s commitment to environmental responsibility. Since the use of fossil fuels to transport foods over long distances contributes to climate change, the two are sourcing foods from as close to home as possible.
“I’m trying to source out as many local foods as possible for the cafe. Vegetables, beef and lamb from the farmers market. Even our coffee provider is in Moncton,” says Lisa. “I even have friends and people I know bringing me mint and sage.”
The café also minimizes its environmental impact by using biodegradable containers for take-out, and encouraging people to bring in their own containers for both food and coffee (which will also save customers a few cents on their orders).
Why not take a stroll down to The Cedar Tree Café at 343 York Street, and discover the new twist on an old Fredericton favourite?
Julie Michaud is a member of the NB Media Co-op.