Ed Donszelmann is thrilled with how well opening Otto has come together. Despite delays with permits, all licensing was in place by Dec. 12, and the doors to this family-friendly community café in Norwood are now open.
The vision for Otto was born out of Donszelmann’s experiences in Amsterdam. In the mornings, he would have a cappuccino in a local café, and in the afternoons, meet again at the same location for a glass of wine or a beer and visit with his sister. He wants Otto to be a community meeting place, the place people refer to as their local coffee or wine shop. As a McCauley resident, Donszelmann wanted to open a restaurant closer to home.
“The focus is food and you and I sitting here chatting at the big communal table. I hope that people meet new people,” Donszelmann said. “My vision is for a neighbourhood, community meeting place.”
Donszelmann brings a strong knowledge of the restaurant industry. He was previously a partner in Culina Restaurants & Catering and the Sugarbowl. Both of his cooks trained at NAIT and have worked at Culina, Woodwork, and Three Boars.
Thomas Spacinsky, the head chef, and Gregory Parschauer, assistant chef, designed a menu focused on comfort food—sausages, in particular. The menu may change slightly in the future. Steven Furgiuele, a local sausage maker at Fuge Meats, prepares the sausages. A vegetarian option and side dishes will also be available. Diners can choose from a selection of wine, a limited number of specialty cocktails, or beer from Alberta’s microbreweries.
Otto is decorated simply. The communal table facilitates meeting friends and neighbours. Donszelmann sourced the old school chairs, complete with carvings and pen drawings, from Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The bar stools are what you would find in a science lab, and the tables are made of pressed floor joists, designed by Dave Regnier. Washrooms are non-gendered (and accessible) and share a common sink/handwashing area, hidden behind a sliding door that’s affixed with a barn slider from UFA. The front sliding garage door will open in the summer to allow patrons to overlook Norwood Square.
Donszelmann says everyone asks about the name Otto. He jokes that he should make a story about it being his father or grandfather’s name, but the name actually arose from a logo drawing a friend did when Donszelmann first conceived of the restaurant. The logo fell by the wayside, but the name stuck.
Local community members are looking forward to the new business. Shelaine Sparrow, whose house is a few blocks from the café says, “We have been monitoring the restaurant’s development closely—more excited with every indicator that opening day is a bit closer. [Otto is a] neighbourhood game-changer and we are ready!”
Donszelmann calls Otto an “amazing collaboration.” Opening night was a success. “We opened the doors this evening and amazing people showed up. I am thrilled to be part of this amazing community.”
Featured image: Ed Donszelmann sits at the communal table at Otto on 95 Street. | Rebecca Lippiatt
11405 95 St
Hours: Evenings in January. Hours will expand to include morning coffee.