Cousins Sarabeth Drover and Caitlyn Purcell grew up spending their childhood summers seaside, playing and collecting shells together along the picturesque shore in on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Their nostalgia for those early days is so embedded into their lives, that working in business together surrounded by those same haunts seemed like their destiny. Now, located just a five-minute stroll from their favorite beach and viewpoint from those blissful summers sits Salty Rose’s and the Periwinkle Cafe, the cafe/inn/shop where Sarabeth is the cafe- and innkeeper Caitlyn curates and runs the art & craft shop.
“We are proud of our island upbringing and feel strongly connected to Ingonish, where we spent all of summers growing up,” they tell us. “After leaving the island to go to school, travel and work we found ourselves always drawn back. Ingonish is magnetic for us. Caitlyn is an accomplished jeweler and made the move back to Cape Breton over eight years ago. She opened the original Salty Rose’s, a beautiful and airy art and craft shop. Sarabeth had been working in customer service and the restaurant industry for many years. We soon began daydreaming of a business that could combine both our talents and our shared interests. When the building that now houses our business came up for sale, we knew it was the one. It is practically a stone’s throw from our family’s property and was full of potential and charm. Our inspiration for the business comes from the sea, the sun and working side-by-side with each other.”
Sarabeth and Caitlyn went about renovating the 1900s Victorian Style Farm Homestead in the small town of Ingonish on the famous Cabot Trail, and opened their doors for business in July 2016. “It had the potential to house a shop, a studio, a cafe AND an inn,” they recall. “An inn had never been part of our original vision, but hosting interesting people from all over the world has become one of our favorite aspects of our business! The building was an inn or guest house for transport workers in the 60s and 70s. At this time the Cabot Trail was still a one-lane dirt road, so deliveries would take days to make and drivers would need a place to rest and eat breakfast. It’s kind of special to us to be continuing this service now, just in a different way.”
Salty Rose’s & The Periwinkle Cafe is comprised of 15 rooms spread over 3,000 square feet and two floors — the main floor houses the shop, cafe, gallery, inn entry and a sitting room; the second floor has three guest rooms, the Daisy, Dandelion and Lily Rooms, a guest washroom and a hallway. The Rose’s Apartment on the second floor has a bedroom with a kitchenette and a private bathroom.
With months of dedicated renovation work behind them and the business headed into its fourth season, their own young children can now be found running around the cafe and inn, making memories together near the sea — a full-circle dream realized for Sarabeth and Caitlyn.
“Despite the demands of running a busy, seasonal business, it still feels a bit like a dream when we walk through the front door on a sunny morning,” the cousins say. “We are still in awe of how the space turned out and are very grateful to all the hands that helped us achieve it. Our partners, families and friends really came through and used their very special talents to make our business look and feel the way it does today. Our hearts still skip a beat when we see just how much our customers and guests enjoy our humble spot. The feeling is so, so gratifying and we don’t think it will ever get old!” —Kelli
Image above: Sarabeth and Caitlyn share, “We had been dreaming of opening a business together for some time. We knew if we wanted to have a successful and well attended business in Ingonish (located in rural Cape Breton), then it had to be right on the Cabot Trail. We were just kind of waiting for the perfect place to come up but truthfully we weren’t actively searching. When this old homestead appeared we knew it was the one.”