After weeks of preparation, Laurie McCannell will open Jammers Café on Feb. 1, offering soups, sandwiches, beverages and desserts. Van Dusen photo

RUSSELL – Naturalist, environmentalist, gardener and food lover Laurie McCannell always wanted to try her hand at running a restaurant or café. The main drawback was a startup investment of $50,000 to $100,000.

But then an opportunity arose right in Russell, the place she has always called home. The Waiting Room café inside the Russell Music Academy stopped operating several months ago and McCannell thought her chance might have arrived.

She came to a lease agreement with RMA owner Kacper Waclawski and the new Jammers Café is set to officially open Sat., Feb. 1. Opening hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sundays when McCannell will take a break.

For the past several weeks she’s been preparing the space, doing a little painting, checking out the equipment, testing some recipes – all of which will have homemade flair – and getting a new sign made. Trial runs have been held during RMA’s Friday night open mic and last Saturday during a school rock band show. Brownies, bite-sized strawberry tarts, cookies and mini scones were all crowd pleasers.

Part of the attraction in leasing the Jammers space, McCannell said, is the built-in customer base provided by the music school. She’s hoping promotion and word-of-mouth reviews will expand the clientele rapidly.

Full meals won’t be available at Jammers; rather, it will be soup of the day and sandwiches in ever-changing selections, desserts, plus cold and hot beverages, including cider made from apples grown and pressed on the McCannell Redland Or­chard in north Russell. Customers some day might even taste tea steeped from plants McCannell is growing on a piece of land she owns in Nova Scotia.

In keeping with the tradition set at The Waiting Room and ethical and dietary preferences of RMA’s owner, the menu will be vegetarian, which is fine with McCannell: “Personally, I’m a meat eater…but there’s a lot you can do with vegetables and beans.”

For now, Jammers will be operated by a staff of one – McCannell – possibly with some help from her mother. If Jammers is successful, part-time help will likely be hired.

A musician and song­writer, McCannell wants to run a café as part of her own wish list; but she also feels her home town needs a place like it for people to gather, write and talk music. It’s well within the realm of possibility she’ll toss aside the apron from time to time, get on the keyboard, and serve up a few tunes.