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Cannonball coffee house acquired by Matalon sisters

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Laura Matalon-Chandley

Cannonball Café, one of the largest coffee houses with four locations in Kingston, was acquired by two Matalon sisters and a spouse, who plan to keep the brand but restructure operations.

The deal struck this month follows expansion by rivals.

"We acquired all the four Cannonball café locations. We have taken over a fantastic business," said new partner Laura Matalon-Chandley, but avoided revealing numbers. "We are not willing to release numbers at this time. But nice try," she said.

The partners are looking to expand outside of Kingston but are currently focused on consolidating the business operations.

Matalon-Chandley, along with husband Ian Chandley, and sister Karen Matalon, all equal partners, formed 'Two Sisters And A Dog Cafe', a holding company through which it operates Cannonball.

"My husband is not the dog," quipped Matalon-Chandley, who has a track record in the hospitality sector. She recently assisted in setting up CPJ Deli, a popular cafÈ in Kingston.

Matalon-Chandley acknowledged that competitors have snatched some market share from Cannonball over the years but explained that the franchise offers a defensible position in the market. Part of that brand differentiation lies in the brands of coffee it sells.

Consequently, Cannonball will continue to sell the premium Old Tavern by Alex Twymans 100 per cent Jamaica Blue Mountain. But Malaton was not forthcoming on whether the cafÈ would sell the Jablum brand going forward. However, she did mention serving the Greenwich brand owned by Palace Amusement director Douglas Graham.

Cannonball will maintain its 15 employees while it reviews the operations.

"We are looking to restructure and redevelop the menu, adding things like gluten-free items," said Matalon-Chandley, the former in-house operations manager for the retail division of Caribbean Producers Jamaica.

Cannonball's previous owners included Tara Abrahams-Clivo and Wendy Facey. Matalon-Chandley explained that Abrahams-Clivo recently set up a separate Cannonball in Miami, Florida, but that cafÈ operates under a different parent company from the local operations.

The former Cannonball Jamaica owners initially opened the Manor Park location over a decade ago, followed by the New Kingston cafÈ, and another at the Loshusan-owned Barbican Centre. The company opened a short-lived branch in downtown Kingston and then set up its final outlet at Sovereign North Plaza in Barbican.

Matalon-Chandley said that there are no plans to close the New Kingston branch seen by some as one of its slowest since the office relocation of telecoms provider Digicel from New Kingston.

"Coffee is not just for the upper St Andrew crowd. For instance, our New Kingston branch has customers that range from janitors to top executives. We treat everyone the same," she said.

Over the past two years, more than 15 cafés popped up in Kingston alone. However, many of them closed shortly after, due in part to existing competitors led by Cafe Blue, which operates five cafés in addition to supplying its branded coffee to at least two other cafés/stores.