A Shared Commitment to Connect Communities – the Story of SuzyQ Doughnuts, artist Natasha Runions, First Bay Properties, and an 1100 sq ft mural!

SuzyQ Doughnuts is a dynamic, uber-popular, social media-shareworthy gourmet doughnut shop that has successfully satisfied snack-seekers since 2012. It has grown from co-founder Susan Hamer selling her famous Sugar Munkki doughnuts at the local farmers’ market to operating its headquarters on St Laurent Blvd, the flagship SuzyQ storefront in Hintonburg, and their Bells Corners location.

In an article published in Chatelaine in 2014, author Samantha Edwards wrote that Susan Hamer likes to “treat her doughnuts like blank canvases.” An artist herself, Hamer and SuzyQ Doughnuts are both known for connecting and juxtaposing different ingredients together to create edible and often adventurous works of art.

SuzyQ Doughnuts Has Something for Everyone

No matter the taste preference, SuzyQ always has something for everyone. Some loyal clients prefer the “Dirty Chocolate” with dark chocolate ganache and cookie crumbs on top while others gravitate towards the “London Fog” with vanilla glaze infused with Earl Grey tea. The popular Sugar Munkki Twist is tossed in sugar and cardamom while the Raspberry Cassis combines raspberry and blackcurrant glaze with white chocolate drizzle. There is even a Maple Bacon doughnut that connects Wheeler’s maple syrup from McDonald’s Corners with Lavergne’s bacon to create the ultimate sweet and smoky ‘breakfast doughnut.’   

The great variety of flavours available on any given day lead to long lineups of culinary connoisseurs. Everyone is eager to carry the freshly baked goods home or back to the office.  Those many fans, from all over Ottawa and beyond, show their love and appreciation by contributing regularly to SuzyQ’s growing digital portfolio of edible art found on their Instagram account.

A selection of delicious SuzyQ Doughtnuts.  Photo taken from the SuzyQ Doughtnuts official Facebook page.
A selection of popular SuzyQ Doughnuts. Photo taken from their official Facebook Page

SuzyQ Doughnuts and Natasha Runion’s mural

Some snap photos of the daily doughnut lineup. They upload photos of their family or friends glancing at open boxes inevitably pondering which one(s) to eat first. They rejoice in the satisfying first bites, and they share the sadness that comes with finishing the last. Lately, some fans have even started sharing photos interacting with the new 14’ high by 82’ long abstract mural on the eastern-facing wall at 2015 Robertson Road in Bells Corners.

SuzyQ Donoughts located at 2015 Robertson Road, Bells Corners

Meet Ottawa Artist Natasha Runions

Both Natasha and SuzyQ agree they had a 1,148 square foot blank canvas ready for something bold, bright and colourful. “The idea was primarily Susan’s” says Runions, who also helped design the SuzyQ doughnut boxes. Nathasha continues, “we wanted something that was more than just the art itself. Something that made you stop and think, and we also wanted something that people could use and interact with that captured the excitement and happiness of coming to SuzyQ Doughnuts and Bells Corners in the first place.”

Bells Corners is a residential and commercial community layered between Kanata to the West and Nepean to the East. Strip malls, restaurants, breweries and retail stores bring this community alive with vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

2015 Robertson Road in Bells Corners

“2015 Robertson Road is the centre of it all. It’s a great and convenient location” says Suzy Q’s Clayton Powell. “Just as Bells Corners connects Kanata and Nepean, SuzyQ and our geometric mural captures the colour and flair of Bells Corners. It connects us all together.”

In Natasha’s Own Words

“We started off with a lot of patterns and prints. I had a mood board with a bunch of images and we just kept building off of that. It was definitely a collaborative approach. We both knew we wanted to go with an abstract representation of doughnuts rather than something super literal and we wanted to take inspiration from the boxes we had designed a few years earlier which were inspired by Scandinavian print making and pattern design. It’s a style you don’t often see, or would expect to see, especially with something like this.

The actual design process was quick but the painting itself was a little tricky especially since the largest mural I had done before this was around 350 square ft; so it’s quite a difference. Getting the actual design up on the wall was one of the main things I was worried about. So to do that, I drew a grid first. I used the grid to help me follow along and get the design up. All that part took the longest. Once I was painting, it was pretty quick. And by that, it’s a matter of just filling it in.

I think the actual painting itself was about three weeks from start to finish, including some days off due to weather. I also got to interact with all the locals, which was nice.”

– Natasha Runions, Artist
Natasha Runions mood board for the SuzyQ Doughnuts mural at 2015 Robertson Road in Bells Corners.
Natasha Runions stands on a ladder painting the side of 2015 Robertson Road in Bells Corners.  Home to SuzyQ Doughnuts and managed by First Bay Properties.

Art is Natasha’s passion and career, but an opportunity of this size literally doesn’t often come up. “I would definitely love to do more big walls like that again. Working with the brighter colours made me love colour again! It was really different, and really fun!”

Natasha Runions painting
Image of Natasha Runions painting her mural on the side of the SuzyQ Doughnuts building at 2015 Robertson Road in Bells Corners.

First Bay Properties was open to Creating Community in Bells Corners

As Natasha says, “when it comes to large-scale projects like this, it’s just a matter of finding the right client who you share the same level of commitment and vision with.” Powell adds, “a mural of that size on the side of our commercial building meant there were Ottawa bylaw considerations and many other steps to follow. This also included sharing our vision with our property management company, First Bay Properties. Fortunately, Jonah Bonn and Cory Wilson were committed to helping navigate city policy and bring the right parties together. They were quick to say ‘yes, this is a winner’ because they also saw the unique potential with the space.”

Cory Wilson,  shares that “we were very open and excited when SuzyQ came to us. Natasha’s mural was a creative way of turning a commercial space and parking lot into something very special.” Jonah Bonn, First Bay Properties’ Founder adds, “as a boutique commercial property management company in Ottawa, our strength is in the relationships we build with our landlords and tenants. We take a lot of pride in our personalized level of service. First Bay really enjoys working with tenants to transform ‘blank canvases’ to strengthen the communities we all serve.

Share your Experience on Instagram

The mural is on full display at 2015 Robertson Road in Bells Corners. SuzyQ is open for takeaway from 8AM to 6PM seven days a week. Go see the mural for yourself, grab a doughnut and share your experience with the greater community by tagging @suzq.doughnuts.

Natasha Runions is now booking murals and does custom art and illustrations as well. Learn more about Natasha by visiting her website and following her on Instagram. To learn more about First Bay Properties and their personalized property management services in Ottawa, please contact Jonah Bonn.

This article was written by Chris Mustakas, a guest author for First Bay Properties.

The corner of Richmond Road & Winona Ave in Westboro Village