Historical Auntie Crae’s shutting its doors in December

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Auntie Crae's specialty food store will close after 33 years.

A downtown landmark will close its doors for good Christmas Eve.

According to owner and founder Janet Kelly, she’s not willing to sell Auntie Crae’s specialty food store, and none of her family members or workers want, or are able, to take it over.

“I’m just retiring and I have no comment on it other than that and I’m closing the store,” Kelly said Sunday. “I was never going to sell the business, ever.” 

Kelly confirms that certain Auntie Crea’s products will continue to be sold through other stores, although she didn’t say which ones.

“I’ll probably licence people to do some of the products.”

The store was established in 1977 in Churchill Square, but moved to its current Water Street location a decade ago.

Before being turned into the specialty foods shop, the Water Street building was a hardware store called Neyle-Sopers for nearly 100 years.

A part of the current store is now called Fishhook Neyle’s Common Room, where people are welcome to bring their own lunches and snacks or those bought at the store and socialize.

Elizabeth McRae, who the store is named after, lived from 1862 to 1927 and leased the building at 308 Water St., a document she’s believed to have signed in 1891 for a 10-year period for the sum of $650 per year.

“I was never going to sell the business ever.” Owner and Founder Janet Kelly

Auntie Crae, Kelly’s great-aunt, was said to have fought the flames of the Great Fire with holy water and prayers as it lapped at her building.

And though it’s not nearly as storied, in recent years Kelly has had to be creative to keep her business running.

Kelly went public with her problems attracting staff and announced she’d be changing her hours as a result in 2008. She spoke on a panel called “The Disappearing Work Ethic: Fact or Fiction,” about a new generation of worker and she also recently posted a sign on plywood covering a broken picture window saying “smashed window compliments of George Street revellers,” and, below that, “Yes, we are open as usual. Auntie Crae’s.”

The store has played host to book launches and readings, and every Tuesday the “Auntie Crae’s Band” plays for the lunch crowd.

Now over 70, Kelly says it’s time to retire.

“It’s a work in progress right now.”

amorrissey@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Water Street, Churchill Square, George Street

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Recent comments

  • Barbara Tulk
    October 25, 2010 - 18:51

    Congratulations on your retirement. You deserve it. Enjoy! Don't give any heed to the negative comments. Obviously these people don't know the real Janet.

  • Bernadette Maloney
    October 24, 2010 - 13:17

    I sent my comments on Wednesday when I read the news paper article, but after reading all the comments, I am forced to write again. As I stated before, I think Janet Kelly is a wonderful woman, both personally & businesswise. It pains me to see ill informed people writing such negative comments when it's plain they have no idea what they are talking about. The good comments from people who know her best by far outweigh the negative, that's what counts in the end. Running a business & dealing with large numbers of employees is not an easy job. I like to see some of the people who are so against Janet give it a try & see how well they fair. After knowing her for the past 4 years, I have the highest degree of respect & admiration for the woman. I wish her the very best in her retirement & hope she enjoys every day of it.

    • Sandra V
      October 26, 2010 - 20:11

      Hi Janet ...I am ecstatic that you will soon be taking some well deserved time for yourself . Although I have only known you personally for the past 5 years I knew about you long long before that . I was a patient at the HSC some years ago and shared a room with a fantastic lady named Pearl Fewer . Those 10 days together we became good friends and I learned that she had been a foster mom to over 30 children besides raising her own family . She spoke so highly of Auntie Craes in St Phillips and how you had given some of her children jobs and how trhey had took away amazing work ethics from you when they had moved on .Sadly Pearl passed away a few years after I met her but her stories and her praise for you still ring loud .Then by becoming a part of your Walk On Water Group I saw firsthand how well you treated your customers and your employees ...I also saw you give with open heart many a cup of coffee or bread to those not so fortunate .Thank you Janet for what you have given also to me being a part of your group ...you brought together all walks of life who have formed life long bonds . I wish you good luck and an abundance of good health wherever your new journey may take you .

  • Marg Power
    October 24, 2010 - 10:46

    Wow, Janet, thirty-three years is a mighty long time. Congratulations on your planned retirement in December. Your hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence has made Auntie Crae’s a downtown landmark which will be missed by many and difficult to replace. Your outstanding contribution to the community will be a benchmark for others to follow. I would like to take this opportunity to let you know how much I enjoy dropping by your establishment for lunch, a coffee or to purchase some good wholesome food, breads and delicious baked goods. I also enjoy the “Walk on Water” excursions which will be missed for sure by walkers, as well visitors and tourists who accompany us from time to time. As we walk the various routes, we are happy to have the benefit of your guided tour and knowledge of the historic buildings and sites. Although this is your special occasion, I would be remiss in not recognizing your staff who have been so helpful over the years. Picking employees is like playing the horse races – sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You have done extremely well in selecting your team. During my many visits, I have always found them to be knowledgeable, friendly, positive and helpful. I would also wish them all the best in their future endeavours. Your time of freedom, rest and travel is fast approaching. Retirement is a great time to travel the globe, especially Uganda. I wish you good health, happiness and the very best in the years ahead.

  • Joyce
    October 24, 2010 - 08:28

    Congratulations on your upcomining retirement Janet. You deserve all the best that life has to offer. It is obvious from all the positive comments that you touched the lives of a lot of people. Good on you! For those of you who chose this opportunity to be nasty, shame on you!

  • Vera G.
    October 23, 2010 - 18:21

    I wonder why some people didn't learn that if you have nothing positive to say that it is in everyone's best interest to say nothing. I have always found Janet Kelly to be a respectful, kind and considerate. I am part of the walk on water group and Janet and her employees have been wonderful to the group. She has taken the time and patience to educate many visitors who took part in the walk what a wonderful place St. John's is to live in and to visit. Unfortunately some unhappy people are making themselves look bad by attacking Janet.

  • Vera G.
    October 23, 2010 - 18:20

    I wonder why some people didn't learn that if you have nothing positive to say that it is in everyone's best interest to say nothing. I have always found Janet Kelly to be a respectful, kind and considerate. I am part of the walk on water group and Janet and her employees have been wonderful to the group. She has taken the time and patience to educate many visitors who took part in the walk what a wonderful place St. John's is to live in and to visit. Unfortunately some unhappy people are making themselves look bad by attacking Janet.

  • Janet Kelly
    October 22, 2010 - 09:23

    I offer a $100 reward to the first person to prove that I ever called any of our youth "lazy". I have never ever had a lazy employee but have had many unreliable ones.

    • McKayla Reilly
      October 23, 2010 - 18:27

      I was a youth worker employed by Janet Kelly for a period of 6 months starting in last October. I feel Janet as an employer is very misunderstood; she is a very blunt, straight-to-the-point, no-point-to-sugar-coat type of boss. I think this is causing her professional persona to be confused with her actual character. I have been the receiver of many criticisms from Janet Kelly, and whether I felt I deserved them or not is a plight that exists with anybody, in any workplace, with any employer. Janet has never ever called me lazy, or implied that I was not working hard enough. She wrote me a reference letter that assisted in my acceptance into university, and made my transfer from work to school as smooth as possible. Last Christmas eve I was panicked about flying, and she hugged me and assured me it would be fine, and when I was sick at work one day she bought me medicine to help with my throat. This is a far cry from the monster here people are describing, and I think that obviously some people don't know how to differentiate between professional and personal criticism, and take the professional as personal criticism. If anything, I left there feeling I eternally owe her for her assistance into my academic endeavors, which I could not of done without her. She gained absolutely nothing by writing that letter for me, but did it because she is a good person. On a side note, although everyone has a right to a freedom of speech, everyone saying all these awful comments should be ashamed of themselves. It is sort of ironic most of the nasty comments are about her criticizing her employees, when she has never publicly called someone out in the awful fashion people are doing to her here.

  • julia
    October 20, 2010 - 21:51

    I have worked with Janet for over a year now ,and I have to say she is a wonderful lady. Who in their right mind would let someone work for them who cant even boil water, and that was me. But with time here I am a year later . Look out thanks to Janet Kelly im the new and improved Betty Crocker.

  • Bonnie
    October 20, 2010 - 14:57

    It is unfortunate that this business will not be passed into the keeping of another person's hands, but that is Ms. Kelly's choice. That being said, I saw the writing on the wall a couple of years ago when the store's hours had to be changed due to her not being able to keep staff and decrying the work ethic of today's youth. While she is more than welcome to her opinion she appears to have offended more than a few people with that mind set, myself included. Yes, she managed to keep the store running for a great number of years but things have changed and some of the expectations that were laid out in a job ad I found a couple of years back left me shaking my head. How the heck is a potential employee, especially a teen, supposed to have a good knowledge about the products and store if some of the items they've never seen before? Sure, it shows interest in the job but these days it's more than a little difficult to scope out the work place before being hired - and it was a huge turn-off to me and meant that I didn't bother applying for fear that my lack of knowledge about the store might end up with me being told that I clearly didn't want a job in the first place. If I didn't want a job I wouldn't bother applying, and yes, I would walk if I felt that I was being treated unfairly - especially if given the impression that my boss was so set in their way that me saying anything wouldn't do a darn thing. And that is the impression I've gotten after speaking to some former employees. Obviously not all employees see anything wrong with how she has been running the business, that is fully to be expected, but it doesn't automatically mean that she has been fair and evenhanded across the board - her statement about 'lazy youth' made that abundantly clear.

  • Ex-Employee
    October 20, 2010 - 14:18

    Those people that are talking negatively about Auntie Crae's and Janet Kelly obviously no nothing about the business or the person. It is a much larger business to maintain than what customers see when they walk in the doors and it's by no means easy to operate. It takes great skill, passion and dedication. You're not in business for over 30 years with dedicated staff that have stayed with you ranging from 20 - 30+ years if you're an ogre to work for. For those of you that don't know Janet Kelly, you are obviously making assumptions on past disgruntled employees or by things you've heard. If you knew the real Janet Kelly you would know that she would give you the shirt off her back, she's dedicated to her staff and expects you to give her the same respect. She has employed the deaf and the mentally challenged when no one else would give them a chance. She regularly donates food to various charitable organizations. She provides medical benefits and school tuitions to those that want it, which is more than most minimum wages employers would offer you. She has received many entrepreneurial awards and has been asked to serve on many local committees throughout the years. She has been a very valuable mentor to many startup business owners throughout the city. She along with other downtown business owners started the “Walk on Water” program to promote fitness and business in the downtown core. There have been many times that Janet has taken out of her own pocket to help a staff member in trouble, but because that's private, you the public would never hear of that kindness and she never once asked for anything in return. She never wanted recognition for those kind acts, she did it because she cares and because it helps someone else in need. For many staff, Auntie Crae’s was there first job. Janet gave them employment with no previous working experience and the opportunity to build a resume when no one else would give them a start. She knew that these people would eventually move on to something else to further their career choice outside of Auntie Crae’s, but she was genuinely interested in investing in the future of our children. The customer is always right at Auntie Crae’s. She stands behind her product and if you’re not totally satisfied with a product she goes out of her way to compensate the customer for the product and for their troubles. All at no extra cost to the customer. She has raised 5 very successful children, two of whom are very well known, respected and sought after individuals within St. John’s. You don’t stay in business as long as she has and produce that many successful minded children and staff without knowing what you’re doing. I worked at Auntie Crae's for over 5 years and had a great experience. It has taught me a lot about business, quality customer service and has shaped my business background for the better. I no longer live in St. John's, but am saddened at the notion of Auntie Crae's being no more. It's been a huge part of my life and a big part of many celebrations in my life. The pudding's at Christmas that have long been a huge part of my Christmas traditions. The Mummers that come to entertain us on Christmas Eve and the Auntie Crae's Houseband that plays every Tuesday. Where else can you get free entertainment like that on a regular basis without cost. I have met lots of wonderful staff and customers that will be life long friends. You can’t ask for much more than that. The only other thing that saddens me is that my daughter will not grow up with the opportunity of experiencing Auntie Crae’s for herself. She will miss out on a great experience but the legend will live on through my stories. Janet is 70 years old and has spent the last 33 years dedicated to St. John’s, her staff, her family and friends and I think she has more than warranted a retirement without judgment. She is human after all and is making a business decision that is best for her and her family. Anyone else would do the same. So until you’ve run a business of Auntie Crae’s magnitude or spent a week in the life of Janet Kelly, don’t be so quick to judge. And in closing for those of you that ever did get a tongue-lashing from Janet Kelly, all I can say is that you probably deserved it.

    • Shelly
      October 21, 2010 - 20:42

      I have to say that I love working at Auntie Crae's . I would also like to inform people that Janet Kelly is a wonderful person and a great boss. I have worked there for 14 years off and on. She has always treated me with respect and I admire her greatly. I will miss everyone ( staff and customers) and it will be a sad day for a lot of people when she closes her doors but she has worked very hard for many years and deserves the right to retire. Enjoy your retirement Janet and thanks for everything,

  • Tracy
    October 20, 2010 - 08:56

    To the people leaving the negative comments: Sour grapes much? Anyway, having worked for Janet on and off since 1998 I found her to be a fair boss. You were getting paid to work and as long as you did a decent days work you'd never have a problem with her. Benefits were offered after 90 days, three free uniforms and raises were given when deserved. My Fiance works with Janet right now and has nothing but praises for her and her business ethic. Janet, might I add, was also fair to her competition. While working with a (short lived) rival coffee house we ran out of red peppers and had no can opener to open our hot chocolate cans during the downtown Santa Claus Parade. Janet was more than happy to let us use her can opener as well as handed us a large red pepper free of charge (We did return a pepper in thanks). Dear Janet, if you read this Enjoy your well earned retirement, you deserve it! I will miss the store but you and Paul have a great retirement! Best wishes.

  • Karen Tucker
    October 20, 2010 - 08:19

    As the saying goes, the comments of a few are not necessarily the opinion of the majority; unfortunately, people tend to speak out negatively on impulse and more hastily than they will in a positive/supportive fashion. I've been a regular customer of Auntie Crae's since it's early days in Churchill Square, loved it, and still do. I didn't have a favorite location; but I particularly enjoyed the Auntie Crae's bakery/coffee roastery/coffee shop in St. Phillip's for so, so many reasons, for the approximate five years it was open. Being from St. Phillip's, I was a regular there, missing very few days. I took my sons there for breakfast before taking them to school, I took them there for lunch. When they got old enough, they used to walk there or ride there on their bikes. It was a joy, a treat, and a pleasure to have the Auntie Crae's shop in St. Phillip's ... I actually cried the day I dropped in there on my way to work, for my morning coffee/muffin, and I'm sure other purchases, and was given the news the location would be closing in a few months ... I was devastated. Auntie Crae's was such a part of my life. Even today, many years later, the people of St. Phillip's miss Auntie Crae's terribly ... it's mentioned often in conversation, as it is also missed by many people I meet from St. John's and all over, as it was a favorite stop for tour buses, folk from St. John's and all around. Auntie Crae's in Churchill Square was a favorite weekend visit. For fifteen years I worked downtown and was a regular, again almost daily, until my job was moved elsewhere in St. John's. To this day, I visit Auntie Crae's whenever I can. Auntie Crae's (Mrs. Kelly) employed many people from St. Phillip's, including students and young folk, many who stayed with her for years. I find the comments re Mrs. Kelly as an employer very interesting ... Auntie Crae's has a number of long-time staff, at least one 30 years+ ... I've gotten to know and spoken with many of them over the years, most of whom spoke very highly of Mrs. Kelly as an employer. I've always found Mrs. Kelly and the Auntie Crae's staff to be extremely helpful, polite, and courteous. The baked goods, fresh coffee, deli, variety and quality are second to none; and will be a very hard act to follow. A visit to either location over the years would prove the popularity of the business ... the line-ups, the quick sell-outs on popular items, the list goes on and on. I will sadly miss Auntie Crae's, as I'm sure will many others. Re the sign in Auntie Crae's broken window, how else does a business owner react to sheer vandalism, which will cost mega dollars in repair, as well as the torment and damage it caused??? Put yourself in her shoes ... there's a saying, 'don't criticize a person, until you've walked a mile in their shoes'. Mrs. Kelly, along with her family, built the Auntie Crae's business over many years of hard work, long hours, attention to detail, superior product, customer consideration and appreciation ... at one point, they had three locations. I could go on and feel it essential to speak out positively and in support of a much loved St. John's/Newfoundland business. Mrs. Kelly and some of her staff may recognize the author of this piece ... I wish Mrs. Kelly a long, healthy, and fulfilling retirement, as well as all the best to her family, many of whom I met over the years as a patron of the business. Hopefully, this comment will inspire other positive/supportive comments. God Bless.

  • PERCY
    October 20, 2010 - 07:39

    It is very sad indeed to see such an ICON as AUNTIE CRAE'S closing its' doors for good. I have been a regular customer there over the 10 years that Janet has been on Water Street, and in Churchill Square, while they were in a trailer, before Terrace on the Square officially opened. Dare I tell the owner of a store, no matter who it is, how to run their own business. It surely says a lot when a business is in operation for 33 years. Something is done RIGHT. We all know about the WORK ETHIC of the generation of today. This store is not, nor will ever be, the last one to have problems with some recruiting young sales staff. It even applies to some "older" people. I worked with the general public for 35+ years. Just ask me, don't tell me about how you have to bite you tongue, almost literally when dealing with the john q PUBLIC....I can write a book, and then some. I am from the "OLD" SCHOOL as well....and I know how a customer has to be treated...back when I worked in retail for several years, the customers were treated with royalty, and dare you say something to them....you would be almost fired on the spot.... Over the years since I have been shopping at AUNTIE CRAE'S, I as a customer, has been treated to the nth, degree by the owner and staff. I can only send praises to Janet and her staff. You were treated as the most important people that walked through the doors. And, in reality, you are indeed. Please don't forget we are all human, and we ALL make mistakes. And, I am sure, for the most part, we do learn by our mistakes. That can even make us much stronger, to say the least. Who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to judge another person. As one of the late, former shareholders(where I worked for some 12 years) once said to a customer.." I have my own sins to account for, and can't worry about anyone else.....some peoples' sins are written on their forehead, and more are locked in the closet.... I wish Janet a very happy retirement, and all the best for her present staff. You will be surely missed in downtown St.John's where I live. It will be like a death in the family.

  • Marcella Grail
    October 19, 2010 - 22:48

    I think the problem here is that most people who wrote a comment don't know anything about Janet Kelly and her husband, Paul. They opened Bridgett's Pub on Cookstown Road in the 1970s and did more for traditional music and all genres of Newfoundland musicians than most people have ever done, giving them a place to showcase their stuff and cultivate a fan base. Figgy Duff, Roger Howse, and Denis Parker played there, as did John White in his later years. Great Big Sea honed their craft at Bridgett's. Bands like the Thomas Trio and the Red Albino were seen for the first time by many people, including me, at the pub. Singers like Candy Sheppard from Toronto came and sang jazz and blues for two week gigs. So many others entertained the patrons. I wish I could remember them all. Paul and Janet were kind and generous to their customers, as were their two sons who worked the bar: Paul, Jr. and the photographer, Shane. More than once I was offered a free beer when I walked in with only enough money for a coffee. Paul and the boys primarily ran the club but Janet was a big part of it, too and sold some of her food there. Although I seem to recall that she actually started on Cookstown Road in the space next to Bridgett's, I am old enough to remember going to her small Churchill Park Auntie Crae's shop in the early days. I can remember when the Ayre family were renovating the building where Janet had her store and she kept going by renting a long trailer and parking it outside the building so she didn't have to lay off any staff. I once knew a young woman who got involved with the wrong guy. He was an addict and wasn't easy to live with. When she finally got the courage to leave her husband and try for a better life for her and her child, Janet Kelly gave her a chance. She didn't have her high graduation and had never worked as a baker, but she was given a good wage and excellent training. She worked with Janet for years. There are many other similar stories. For the people who talk as though Ms. Kelly simply ran a coffee bar, you need to understand it was a lot more than that. Without Auntie Crae's and Mary Janes Health Food store, people living here would never have had knowledge of or access to a multitude of products, such as teas, jams, and cheeses from Europe, and things like good chocolate, saffron, imported pastas, and specialty flours. To say nothing of the many locally produced items. Janet shone a light on a different world of food for us. And, I am quite sure it was never easy to bring those types of items in and of course, the prices of some things were prohibitive to some. But you could always go and buy her Poor Man's Whole Wheat bread for $2.00 or a cheap baguette and pick up a couple bucks of good cheese on a Friday for a treat. I think she catered to as many types of people as she possibly could, not just the rich. Her store is such a part of our culture. I remember taking my son for a sandwich there when he was on school lunch break as a special treat. I can remember walking downtown on cold nights during the Christmas season on my way to pick up some specialty items at Auntie Crae's and enjoying the holiday lights. I remember bringing visitors to St. John's there to impress them. I remember it being one of the first places I brought my American husband when he came here to start a new life with me. As far as her comments concerning work ethic and young people, how do you know that hasn't been her experience? She didn't say every young person was lazy, but don't you think she might have some insight to employees when she has been hiring for over four decades? Maybe she has seen trends. She's certainly not the only person who has said that exact thing. I think it's true that there are people new to working who expect the pay and benefits of a highly educated person who has been in the workforce for years. That's not the real world. Finally, my father was a small business owner for a number of years. I saw how he worked 18 hour days and jumped in to help him when I was 12. I know how difficult it is to try and keep such a business going, although we had nothing on the scale that Janet does. If any one of you could imagine the amount of hard work, dedication, sleepless nights, courage, and financial risk that comes along with being a small business owner, I don't think you'd have said most of what you've said here. Janet has kept Newfoundlanders employed for decades. I'm sure she stayed on for years more than she might have wanted to because she didn't want to see her long-term employees without a job. She did a yeoman's job of keeping it all going for so long, and in the process, renovated an important historical building and raised a family. Not many people can say they have touched as many lives as she has. Even today, you can go to her shop and buy local products and music, to say nothing of the many years she has offered her store as one of very few places where local concert tickets can be bought. I raise a glass to the Kelly’s and their hard work. I for one will make a special trip to see her before she closes for good. Every town and city needs an Auntie Crae's. What will take its place? It should be a sad day for everyone.

  • AP
    October 19, 2010 - 12:52

    Congratulations Janet on a well deserved retirement! You not only provided a lunch room for all to enjoy (even those who brown bagged their lunch) you also have a microwave & numerous reading material available for them with free entertainment & music . This is a unique service & one that will be missed in the downtown area. You have shared your knowledge of the history of St. John's with those locals & visitors who join you every week on the "Walk on Water" group, providing us with a social outlet & a prize for just showing up. Your staff , some who have been with you since you started business, treat us as family every time we enter the store & we know what you have done for the community over the years. You will be missed!

    • Eileen Hannon
      October 19, 2010 - 20:09

      Having known Janet Kelly as a friend and business associate for over 20 years , I would like to wish her all the best life has to offer in her retirement years. I am sure that a lot of people will miss Auntie Crae's, not only customers,but also many of the staff that Janet employed over the years, staff that always included persons with physical or mental disabilities as well as the deaf, people who sometimes found great difficulty in obtaining employment elsewhere because so many see the disability instead of the ability. Not too many people are aware that Janet paid for staff members to take training in sign language so they could converse with deaf co-workers. Many a student had their first job at Auntie Crae's and continued to work there on school and university breaks. Auntie Crae's food contributions three times a week will be missed by various places in the city. Yes, Janet Kelly and Auntie Crae's will definitely be missed, in so many good ways.

  • Mary Ann Jacobs
    October 19, 2010 - 12:03

    As an employee of Auntie Crae’s I can truly say that this has been the best job I have ever had. Not only do I work with a group of excellent people, I have never once been treated unfairly by Janet. When I do well she says so and thanks me. If I do not do something correctly she will tell me that also. It is her job to see that the business bearing her family name runs smoothly, efficiently and with a quality standard worthy of bearing that name. I would do no differently and neither would any other smart entrepreneur. As for the article above, the writer would do well to place comments in the correct context. When someone is asked to “comment” on their retirement what would one expect them to say? Perhaps, “Oh yes I am going to retire and knit scarves for everyone I know.” It is nobody’s business but Janet’s what her plans are. She says only what she means and wants to say, and does not waste anyone’s time with meaningless pieces of information that do not and should not matter to the public. Janet is retiring because she wants, and she deserves to. The store will close. Her family history is not for sale, as is no one else’s. Whether or not Janet will knit scarves, or join the circus is not for public concern. The endless speculations as to the circumstances surrounding her retirement are absurd and affect none but the sepculators. There are many who are loyal to and will deeply miss Auntie Crae’s Food Shop.

  • David
    October 19, 2010 - 09:55

    Wow...a lot of people have a littany of unresolved issues! Get professional help. This is the REAL Newfoundland...forget the BS the tourists are fed.

  • Danny
    October 19, 2010 - 09:26

    Who gives a rat's rear end? I never set foot in the place. All one can hope is that something better is put in it's place.

  • Bob
    October 19, 2010 - 08:16

    On a point of correction - The business started on Cookstown Road in the old W.W.Lester Building next to her husbands business "Briggets". From there the business moved to Churchill Square before shifting to Water Streeet. First higherlevels, next the housing and finally downtown.

  • Worker 2
    October 19, 2010 - 08:13

    To Negative People: Haven't your mothers ever told you if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all? I love the people I work with and the regular customers I see everyday. Sure Janet Kelly may have had her moments but everyone does. It is her business and she will have it run the way she wants it run. As for her saying anything about lazy young staff, isn't it her right to complain after she hired these young staff and they don't come back after whatever amount of days of working without so much as a call or email? Janet Kelly has been great to work for, and yes she does appreciate her staff, just because she didn't mention it in her article doesn't mean otherwise. She wanted to put it out there that Auntie Crae's is closing, nothing sappy or mushy, but yes the staff and customers that do know her know that she does appreciate the people who have shopped in her store over the years and the people who have worked for her over the years.

  • David
    October 19, 2010 - 08:06

    Friendly Newfoundland! With potential cusotmers like this backstabbing bunch of whiny know-it-alls, I'm surprised she lasted this long! Here's a piece of advice I'm sure none of you has the guts to take literally....mind your own business!

  • worker
    October 19, 2010 - 06:26

    for all the inconsiderate comments towards mrs.kelly, I have to say Really! Here is a business women that has been in business for almost 34 years and people are going to say that she don't know how to run one! To me 34 years is knowing how to do something...and for not thanking her staff,how do you know that she has not? As for the way that people say she is, don't all business people have there days? I for one am going to miss the customers that love coming into the store and the people that I work with. I would like to wish Mrs.kelly good luck in what ever a 70 year old women wants to do! OH by the way as for selling the store, would you let someone take your family name and a business that you have work so hard for? I Think people should really think about that!

  • Steve
    October 18, 2010 - 23:13

    "The store was established in 1977 in Churchill Square, but moved to its current Water Street location a decade ago." And just what is so historical about this?Just like historic downtown St. John's that burnt down only a hundred years ago

  • Stephen
    October 18, 2010 - 22:22

    It seems like the bell has finally toll on this sinking ship. Auntie Crae's was such a special place growing up, acting as the go-to for specialty goods and a decent sandwich. The past few years have been a nightmare at Auntie Crae's, and it is a shame she will not grant one of the many entrepreneurs in the city the opportunity to carry on the store, and improving the sour legacy she is leaving behind.

  • Chad
    October 18, 2010 - 21:44

    Opening a specialty grocery store in 1977 and having 10 years of business on Water Street makes a business "historical" in a city that claims to be over 500 years old?

  • mike conway
    October 18, 2010 - 20:20

    Congratulations Janet on your pending retirement you've worked long and hard and have well earned the right to stand back and smell the roses.I can honestly say that i have been treated with the utmost respect and kindness while being employed by you,may God bless you and your family.

  • Past employee
    October 18, 2010 - 18:43

    i worked for Janet Kelly for a number of years and I watched her drive away many good employees with her ignorant and nasty behaviour. All of her senior staff have long since moved on and found other jobs. Don't expect any thanks from this lady. She doesn't know how to say the word. Just like her staff when she is done with her faithful customers she will toss them to the curb and tell them to get out! Good riddance JK!

  • BS
    October 18, 2010 - 17:03

    Not sure if a lot of the people who commented here can remember when her store was in St Philip's. It was a great business and all her employees were glad to have a full or part time job. She made the mistake of moving to town and having to hire little snots who were and are, like she said, "Lazy". Most stores and store owners realize how our youth today have a poor work ethic....do nothing these days for $10 hour.....20 years ago....work for $4.75 and be damn glad for it! I just read this to my darling wife, and she said "you're some boy"! I am Ha ha!

  • Janet Kelly - my real name
    October 18, 2010 - 16:55

    Wow! What a fabulous fan club! How did all my anonymous friends forget to mention that I lock my staff in the cellar every night, throw in a few crusts of left over bread so they don't faint at work the next day and only when sales are particularly good do I add a tablespoon of gruel. As for customers, I beat them off with a stick. I should be given a public hanging on Yellow Belly Corner. How dare I refuse to talk to the press! I almost forgot, I'm sometimes a little sarcastic.

    • Beth Maloney - My Real Name
      October 19, 2010 - 19:32

      Read my comment from Monday below Janet; you know very well who I am and you also know that his is my real name. Sad to say that I once thought of you as a friend. I stand by my comment and before I go, don't make excuses by saying you are saracstic. Cruel yes, but sarcastic? No.

  • Robert
    October 18, 2010 - 16:49

    It is my understanding that Janet Kelly will decide who goes in after. She still owns the building no matter what. Chances are high that the style of business will remain but the name will change. However, this is all speculation. She told me personally that the coffee roasting will continue on. Maybe she'll make a special edition chocolate bar with a golden ticket and the lucky winner will run the business.

  • Thomas
    October 18, 2010 - 16:44

    I've visited from the west coast numerous times and have enjoyed Auntie Crae's on each visit. Being from out of town I had no idea of the "story" behind the scenes. On one hand I've sorry to see it go but on the other hand, after learning of the circumstances around the closure, I guess this was inevitable. Sealing your own fate I guess. It's a great location and I hope someone else can come in and create something better to draw us to the area.

  • Jay
    October 18, 2010 - 15:48

    Bitter and angry... sure. Great well-stocked store that will be sorely missed by anyone who liked to cook... that too. Someone on some twitter feed said over the weekend that soon we will only have KFC and McD's in St. John's. Any place that tries to do something different and fill a niche doesn't do well around here. Do I condone Ms Kelly's manner? no. Will i miss her store terribly and have to mail order things at greater expense? Also yes.

  • Audrey
    October 18, 2010 - 15:42

    Good riddance - overpriced produce by a bitter lady with no respect for either her staff by all accounts, or customers. You'd by amazed to find most of her products are to be found in Sobeys cheaper!

  • Greg
    October 18, 2010 - 15:31

    I work at Auntie Crae's the people who are negative about mrs.kelly dont know what there talking about ive been working for her four years and had no problems with her. i wish her the best of luck in her retirement

  • Adam
    October 18, 2010 - 15:01

    Historical Auntie Crae’s shutting its doors in December O'Briens Music Store is historical, not some little 2 bit store that opened in 1977.

  • red
    October 18, 2010 - 14:17

    Seems to me that most of the comments here sum up the feeling towards this business person and her business. Not to good accordingly. If you are not going to treat your employees well and pay them well then what do you expect? The days of people working for peanuts us long gone. Like everything else you get what you pay for today. This person seems to have a problem with her ego in that she thinks she's worth more to public that she realizes. Everyone seems to have a lot of selfworth until they leave and relalize they aren't missed at all. I say once this business closes people will be trying to remember what store used to be in that spot before such and such opened it's doors? Auntie Crae's?? WHat was that? Oh that was the businees owned by that old lady who treated her customers and employees poorly. That's how it will be remembered, quite sad actually.

  • Mrs P
    October 18, 2010 - 14:12

    I once went for an interview for a job there. She was extremely ill-mannered and impatient. I decided at the interview that if she did happen to offer me the job, I wouldn't take it. I knew I wouldn't be happy working for such a person. I'm sad to see the store go - I'm living away from home right now but returning within a year - but she really didn't do herself any favors, with the way she got on. No wonder business was down... she gave herself a bad name !

  • Not surprise
    October 18, 2010 - 13:45

    I'm not surprised she's shutting her doors. She seems to be a very bitter lady. I remember the article everyone here is referencing, a couple of years back when she couldn't find people to work and had to stick to operating Tuesday- Saturday. I have also met her since that article and she wasn't overly pleasant. I imagine her comments 2 years ago combined with this article today will leave the city of St. John's only too glad to see that space filled with another tattoo parlour!

  • Brian 2
    October 18, 2010 - 13:10

    I happen to know one very dedicated past employee of Ms Kelly, whose word I trust completely. ..nasty piece of business to work for ! What about a thanks to the staff & customers ? ... I don't see it in this article. The old Soper building is a great location ..hope something more respectful moves in.

  • towniegirl
    October 18, 2010 - 12:46

    It's unfortunate Mrs. Kelly feels a "no comment" is an appropriate answer when asked about how she feels on closing the business. While its entirely her decision to close up shop and not sell Auntie Crae's, it would be nice of her to offer a "thank you" to her loyal customers who have been with her since the beginning. Her attitude seems sour, and frankly has been every time she's been in the media. I hope she finds joy in her new found downtime once she retires. She clearly hasn't had much joy running this business.

  • newfiepride709
    October 18, 2010 - 12:42

    Not one word of thanks to her staff for their service over the years?!? GOOD RIDDANCE! She has no clue how to operate a business...

  • taxpayertoo
    October 18, 2010 - 12:16

    I did not shop there much as I also found it a bit pricey, however after hearing her on TV I vowed to stay away. She neglected to point out that folks would not work there because they were paid poorly, no benefits and treated with disrespect, that has nothing to do with lazyness. If you can work elsewhere and be treated better than why go there. I suggest Ms. Kelly try working for min wage and see how far that gets her. Also not seeling the business is like shooting herself in the foot. Obviously this woman has issues!!

  • Whaddaya At ?
    October 18, 2010 - 12:11

    Some of these comments remind me of the soup Nazi on the TV sitcom Seinfeld, when he'd bark at a customer, ' NO SOUP FOR YOU ' , and he'd refuse to serve the customer a bowl of his renowned, delicious soup. Wonder if anyone at Auntie Crae's ever heard a customer being told ' NO SQUARES FOR YOU '.

  • N
    October 18, 2010 - 12:01

    It's interesting that nothing she has stated (as far as this article goes) referred to her thanking her patrons and staff.

  • BONNIE
    October 18, 2010 - 11:05

    DON'T REALLY CARE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER IF SHE CLOSES OR NOT, I KNOW THAT THE COFFEE AND OTHER ITEMS WERE REALLY EXPENSIVE, AND YEA, SHE WAS NOT NICE TO HER STAFF, REALLY SHE WAS REALLY NASTY, I DON'T KNOW WHY THE STAFF DID NOTHING ABOUT IT, THERE ARE LAWS IN PLACE TO PROTECT EMPLOYEES, JUST ANOTHER COFFEE SHOP.... NOTHING SPECIAL ANYWAY, MAY SOME GOOD WILL GO THERE IN ITS PLACE.

    • Ciao Baby
      October 18, 2010 - 12:03

      Good Riddance, I avoided the place at all costs after her "noise" about lazy youth a few years back.

  • downtown worker
    October 18, 2010 - 11:03

    I have also boycotted this place whenever possible. I find some of the staff rude and the owner not much better when I expressed concern at the time of the incident. A deli at this site would do excellent. Any takers??

  • Brad
    October 18, 2010 - 10:52

    Good riddance, no worker appreciation, no customer appreciation, you have no place in business as far as I am concerned. I bet she is paying financially for airing her laundry in public the past few years.

  • bill
    October 18, 2010 - 10:19

    haven't went in the store since her public lambasting of her employees. Wish you had closed long before this

  • Lil Short
    October 18, 2010 - 10:14

    I think this store lost a lot of business/customers when they moved downtown. I was a frequent shopper when they were in Churchill Square ( loved the deli, the breads and the international foods they carried). I tried to follow the store when it moved but after spending time hunting for parking spots, I decided to get my stuff elsewhere.

  • Sarah
    October 18, 2010 - 10:11

    Though I'm not one to get into the comment board back and forth, I must make this clear to Starr: that is an absolute gross generalization you are making, and is by no means accurate. Indeed, some young staff are lazy, but so are some old staff. Of course, there are some lazy youth, but there are some lazy middle-aged and senior staff, as well. Many youth, myself included, go far above and beyond our job descriptions - work ethic is not nearly as rare as you suggest. To state otherwise is simply ignorant and disrespectful, not to mention unfair.

  • Beth Maloney
    October 18, 2010 - 09:30

    I agree with Sarah, I was a regular customer until she so publicly badmouthed her workers a couple of years ago. And what got me about her at that time, she tried to defend her nastiness to a customer while one of her employees served him! What arrogance! I haven't stepped inside her store since that incident after her shop is long gone, no one will remember Auntie Crae’s except those shared her nastiness and those who were stung by her mouth. Good riddance to yet another typical 'You are lucky you have a job' Newfoundland slave driver.

    • Jon
      October 18, 2010 - 09:48

      Here here!

  • Starr
    October 18, 2010 - 09:21

    I will be sad to see the business go - it was a unique niche for sure. And Sarah, Ms. Kelly is right in her assessment of "lazy young staff". Business owners are finding that many youth these days want to get paid for doing less as possible. Work ethic is becoming a rare find.

  • kathleen
    October 18, 2010 - 09:20

    Would you mind sharing the Plantation Chews recipe? They are to DIE for.

    • Janet Kelly
      October 21, 2010 - 06:54

      Recipes for TEA BUNS, PLANTATION CHEWS AND GINGER SUGAR COOKIES will be free for the asking by the end of October.

  • Edmund
    October 18, 2010 - 09:07

    Really, who cares. It's only another coffee shop closing. There will be another to take its place and pick up the slack so the inner city and downtown crowd have a number of choices where to spend their idle time. Move on its 2010.

  • Whaddaya At ?
    October 18, 2010 - 09:02

    The owner is retiring, closing the store, and has no comment. Move on, nothing to be seen here, mind yer own business. How about the patronage of customer over the years ? Huh ??? Wha ??? Duh ???

  • Sarah
    October 18, 2010 - 08:34

    I'll be sad to see the Auntie Crae's products go - the breads and squares are simply delicious. I will not, however, miss Ms. Kelly's attitude. I, for one, lost a lot of respect for Ms. Kelly (and unfortunately, by association, the Auntie Crae's brand) after her inaccurate and disrespectful public tongue-lashing of 'lazy young staff' (my summary of her words) a couple of years back. I think she caused a lot of damage to the Auntie Crae's image then - myself and several of my colleagues have since avoided the spot when other alternatives exist , simply to make a statement that customer service and respect for your staff DO MATTER. Perhaps some of her family would be more willing to take over the business if there wasn't so much damage control to be done.

  • Ken OBrien
    October 18, 2010 - 07:57

    Some people wondered if Ms. kelly was making a mistake when she moved the business from Churchill Square to Water Street. Time has proven her right, irt's been a great success. She did a bang-up job restoring the old building and keeping its character. Auntie Crae's will be missed.

  • Lena
    October 18, 2010 - 07:49

    It's unfortunate that Ms Kelly's attitude toward selling the business is so entrenched -- and so negative. What a sad waste of a well-established and much-needed business in the downtown. The decision to close on Sundays marked the beginning of the end for the store's future; another owner might be able to turn this back into a thriving enterprise.

  • Brian
    October 18, 2010 - 07:44

    It 's a sign of the times business wise, the inevitable wave of new young professionals have arrived on the scene and are more into development than quaintness. The Heritage romantics need to take note and accept the fact that their days are numbered and the stoggy old business face of downtown St. John's will be completey changed in 15 years or so and replaced by fresh gleaming office towers.

  • Maureen
    October 18, 2010 - 07:07

    Sorry to see you go but it is quite understandable why you are. Good Luck on your retirement.