Russ (left) and Chris Prefontaine (a.k.a., The Fratello Brothers) love their coffee. With nearly 30 years of experience in the coffee industry, you could say it runs in their veins.
From personally sourcing out and roasting the best beans in the world (the Prefontaines own and operate a roastery here in Calgary) to running their own successful coffee shop on 17th, the brothers can safely tell you that coffee has literally been their life’s work.
When the two aren’t sourcing coffee beans in far-flung countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala and Bolivia, the coffee connoisseurs can be found at Analog Café, Fratello’s retail café division, nestled in a corner lot on 17th Avenue.
What brought Analog to 17th Avenue?
Russ Prefontaine: We just love 17th Avenue and have always loved this corner [where Analog now stands]. Before Analog opened in late 2012, this place was just an old Buy Rite convenience store and when it went up for sale, we jumped on it. We’ve always wanted this location – it really is ground zero for the 17th Ave. community.
Chris Prefontaine: We knew it would be a wonderful space if we got in here to redesign it and repurpose it. 17th Avenue is a fun place to do business – there’s always so much going on all the time.
RP: And it’s one of the most walkable areas in all of Calgary and it’s getting better all the time.
What’s your favourite part of 17th Ave.?
RP: As crazy as this sounds, I love hanging out [at Analog]. I’m not just saying that because it’s ours, but when it’s packed with people it’s the hippest place to be. I especially love coming down here on weekends: there’s good music and it’s fabulous for people-watching. Sometimes there’s a lineup of people at the door and you can hardly walk around, but it’s awesome; such a wicked vibe.
CP: My wife and I truly do spend a lot of time just hanging out here, doing what other people are doing – just enjoying the buzz. We live in the community, so the ability to just walk over or ride a bike here is great.
RP: And really, we built it for us! We’ve been in this business for many, many years now – full-time since the early ‘90s – and we’ve always wanted a café. When we built it, it was for us, and hopefully everyone else is going to dig it, ‘cause we do.
Where would we normally find you on 17th Ave.?
RP: Model Milk (308 17 Ave. S.W.) is probably one of my top places in town right now. Love the ambiance and the space. And National on 17 (550 17 Ave. S.W.) for sure. They’re good for beers, hanging out and people-watching.
CP: And the patio at National makes a huge difference there, especially in the summer. The avenue is such a walkable place with such an eclectic community; just being able to sit back and people-watch outside is great. You’ve got your ballers from Mount Royal and your skaters from the street – it’s incredibly cosmopolitan! We tried to bring that New York people-watching feeling to Analog with our Bryant Park chairs outside.
Any favourite places to eat?
CP: I truly do love Una Pizzeria (618 17 Ave. S.W.). It’s small, intimate and packed. I love their different sharing plates. It’s probably my go-to place for a meal. I’m more interested in quality than I am in fine dining – I like a casual dining experience that’s down to earth and I think Una does a really great job with that. And on Sundays, we often get together with friends and do this thing that we call Charcuterie Sundays at Farm (1006 17 Ave. S.W.), which involves lots of cheese from Janice Beaton Fine Cheeses (1017 16 Ave. S.W.).
RP: Anything from Model Milk is great too – they change their menu so often. I really like to go to Borgo Trattoria (818 16 Ave. S.W.) for breakfast. The brunch is killer. And Una has some great pizzas.
CP: I just had the most insanely good Duck Taco at Market (718 17 Ave. S.W.)! It’s a Noble Farms duck confit wrapped in scallion pancakes with micro cilantro and chive aioli. I couldn’t believe how insanely delicious they were! It’s my new favourite dish at the moment.
Where else might we spot you on the avenue?
RP: At Analog, having a coffee, or out at National having beers. You’ll probably also find me eating dinner at Model Milk, or out shopping at Purr (601 17 Ave. S.W.). My wife and I love it there.
CP: My kids love The Source (930 17 Ave. S.W.) and The Rocket (624 17 Ave. S.W.) for their t-shirts. I feel like I’m always there. And Caffe Beano (1613 9 St S.W.) is great on a Saturday morning. They’ve been an institution on the avenue since the ‘80s and have been serving our coffee literally since 1989. It’s a totally different feel than [Analog]; we value them very much and respect how committed they’ve been to the concept that they’re so known for in this community. They have a huge following of very loyal customers. I love to go to Beano.
RP: The Espresso Chocolate Milkshake that they make with Bernard Callebaut and espresso poured over it, is incredible. When I go to Beano, that’s basically what I drink!
What’s your favourite drink?
CP: Trad Cap. A traditional cappuccino.
RP: Mine is black coffee. Always my go-to drink. Either that or a trad cap as well.
The Prefontaine brothers are set to bring more great energy to the Avenue, taking over the nearby Melrose space and introducing Corbeaux Bakehouse, scheduled to open this fall.
Keep up with everything Fratello by following them on social:
Analog Café on Twitter: @FratelloAnalog
Analog Café on Facebook: facebook.com/Analog.Coffee.17th
Chris Prefontaine on Twitter: @FratelloCoffee
Russ Prefontaine on Twitter: @FratelloCoffee2