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Hold Fast Café

2020-02-18 • Halifax • Dan MacKay

In late 2019, Hold Fast Café opened in Halifax's north end. Owner Ian MacLeod describes it as "a small but cute start-up, a space where everyone feels welcome." In February 2020, Wayves interviewed Ian.

W: Tell us a bit about yourself - where did you grow up, where did you come out, what drew you to be an entrepreneur?Ian in his shop

I’m 37, born and raised in Halifax, graduated from Saint Mary’s University in 2004. I came out in 2009 and am engaged to my incredibly patient and supportive partner of 10 years, Matt with plans to get married in 2021. I’m a cat dad to my boy Stedman and have an amazing and supportive set of parents and brother. He and his wife have gifted me with two nieces and a nephew. I was in the corporate world for almost 20 years and decided I wanted to do something different, something more fulfilling. Something where I felt more control over my own life and something that allowed me to be more connected to my city and community.

W: How did you select a location?

I chose the north end because I like the feeling of a neighbourhood spot. I also find that Halifax is lacking in everyday queer spaces to hang out and feel comfortable in. That is a void I wanted to fill and since I’ve been opened, I realize that folks in the north end love to explore their neighbourhood on the weekends and search out new places to sit for a few hours and relax. They also love supporting small north end businesses.

W: What is the origin of the name?

My last name is MacLeod and that is the MacLeod clan motto: Hold Fast.

W: What food and beverages will you have available?

Right now, I have Espresso based drinks, drip coffee, juices and soda. I carry an array of sweets from 24 carrot bakery that include muffins, scones, Danish, cookies, oatcakes etc. and a savory bacon and egg bialy from Tart and Soul as well as a veggie option bialy. I am currently in the process of acquiring a liquor license so I can bring on beers, wines and ciders from local breweries I will also have some patio space in the summer months.

W: Do you envision that evolving over time?

Yes, I would like to have more savoury options and I will be experimenting with that over time. I will always be looking for new options for food and drinks.

W: What kind of weekend pop-ups do you envision?

So far, I have had success with everything from crafty pop-ups like hats and scarves to homemade skincare products as well as amazing baked goods from King & North and Honey & Butter with more to come in March and April. The idea is to have local artists and bakers in who work out of their homes or have mostly online businesses to have some physical visibility. Humble Pie was my first pop-up who ended up staying for a month. They really put me on the map and I was very happy they reached out to me to come and hang out with me

W: Is there space for musical entertainment?Hold Fast Café exterior. Photo by Kelly Brindl

The café is super small (about 600sq/feet) I suppose we could do an open mic but it would have to be on a pretty small scale and something I will be looking into.

W: What other amenities? Is there a quiet corner for meetings? Free wifi? What else?

I do have folks here who hold meetings from mortgage brokers to knitters; it’s a pretty chill vibe here. I have free wifi and the café is wheelchair accessible including the bathroom.

W: What are your hours of operation? Do you have any plans to change that some time in the future?

Right now, I am open Mon-Friday 7am-4pm and Sat-Sun 10am-4pm
These hours will extend in the spring and summer once people start venturing out more and I have more staff.

W: Is the space available for special events outside of business hours?

I have reached out to a few community groups to make them aware that I have a space available for events. I am into the idea of holding evening events when that presents itself.

Hold Fast Café is located at 5520 Almon St. Job applicants can send résumés to