Historic eatery uses app to allow patrons to order fare from smartphone

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It’s an unusual mix of Victorian charm and some 21st-century technology.

Villa Cornelia, a fine-dining restaurant located in a home considered a heritage gem, is getting a high-tech boost from its new owner with the use of 3-D printing and a new restaurant app.

William Komer, who took over the business in May is also the executive director of Campus Creative, a website, graphic design and video production firm about a block east on Clarence Street.

While Komer comes from a high-tech background, his company has experience in marketing for restaurant and caterers. An associated company, Under the Umbrella, does photos and video for weddings and special events.

Komer has friends and family in the food and beverage industry and said a restaurant is an interesting addition to his holdings.

“When you put the right people in place, you get good results. . . . It’s a pretty straightforward business at the end of the day,” he said.

When he took over the restaurant, some of the original Victorian ornamentation — such as wall sconces and washroom signs — was missing.

Komer used a technique called photogrammetry to scan the surviving ornaments and reproduce them exactly using a 3-D printer. He also intends to use the same technique to create an extension to a bar shelf.

The restaurant also will use a new app called Barconnect that Campus Creative helped to develop for a client that allows patrons to order drinks and food from their table using a smartphone.

He said the system is ideal for crowded summer patio venues.

“Instead of having your server fight their way through the

crowd, take your order, you can do it all from your phone,” said Komer

Komer said work will soon begin to improve and upgrade the rear patio of the building, which had been closed for a number of years.

A grand reopening for Villa Cornelia will be held Thursday, featuring an orange bread recipe from Anne Cornelia Smart, the widow of the original owner who lived in the house for decades.

The recipes were provided by a nephew of Anne Cornelia who once lived in the house and contacted Komer. The nephew, who lives in the United States, is coming to London in August and will donate some of the silverware from the Smart family to the restaurant.


Villa Cornelia

  • The mansion at 142 Kent St., just off Richmond Row, was built in 1892 by Alfred M Smart.
  • Smart was a prominent London businessperson who was president of the Ontario Loan and Debenture and also served on the boards of London Life, Western Fair and McClary Manufacturing.
  • Smart died in 1931, but his second wife, Anne Cornelia, lived in the house until her death in 1986.
  • Next-door neighbours Jiri and Tamara Zuzanek bought the house, restored it in 1987-88 and opened the Villa Cornelia restaurant, named for the former owner.
  • The home was designated as a heritage property in 1988 and is considered one of London’s finest examples of Queen Anne architecture, including ornate turrets, windows and detailing.

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