Private Event Rental Information

The Higher Grounds Cafe and The Cellar Bar is located at 299 Commercial Street (rear) in North Sydney, Cape Breton.  Opened in 2017, the café bar serves tea and coffee, light lunch, and a daily rotating menu of baked goods, desserts, and evening appetizers from our in-house kitchen. We are also licensed and offer a selection of local and domestic beers, wines, ciders, and classic cocktails. In addition to our regular operating hours, the bar is also available evenings and weekends for private events.

The Space

The Cafe and Bar
800 sq ft of mingling room + two small cozy vaults.

The Patio
500 sq feet of outdoor seating and socializing space extending from the cafe. 

The Kitchen
The licensed kitchen is equipped with one of each of the following: a standard oven, a refrigerator, a chest freezer, a three-compartment sink, and a microwave. There is approximately 50 sq. ft. workable counter space.

Rental FAQs

What are your dates and hours of availability for private events?

Winter 2018:

Private event rentals can be made outside of our regular operating hours. Our current operating hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday 10-5, Thursday 10-10, and Friday 10-11.

Rental availability (subject to change based on reservations):

Sunday: Morning/Afternoon/Evening

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Saturday: 6 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Private rentals unavailable Thursdays and Fridays.

What is the capacity of Higher Grounds/The Cellar Bar?

May 1 - October 31

50 inside the lounge area + 25 on our small private patio (weather permitting) for a total occupancy of 75.

November 1 - April 30

50 inside the cafe bar.

What types of events are suitable for this space?

The space is best suited for small intimate gatherings. We regret that as a licensed establishment, we cannot accommodate children's parties.

What is the rental fee?

The rental fee is $250 +HST for a minimum of four hours. This includes one bar staff person. Each additional hour is $50 per hour. 

How do I book a date?

A 50% deposit of the rental fee is due at the time of booking. The remaining rental fee balance is due 30 days before the event. In addition, we require a $200 damage deposit, which is refunded within 10-15 business days after the event, provided there are no damages. The damage deposit can be paid between the booking date and event date. Higher Grounds/The Cellar accepts cheques and all major credit cards (3% service fee for credit cards). 

What is your cancellation policy?

If you cancel more than 30 days prior to your scheduled event, you will receive your rental fee deposit back. Within 30 days of the event, you forfeit your rental fee deposit. If you decide to move the date of the event, you may do so at no additional cost, pending availability.  

Audio & Visual System Specs

  • WiFi Internet access
  • In-house sound system, compatible with iPods, phones, laptops. Independent sound systems between inside bar and outdoor patio, and independent volume control between areas.
  • High-definition projector with projector screen

Can I bring my own food and drink?

Outside catering services must be used at Higher Grounds/The Cellar. All food brought on site must be from an approved food vendor and cannot be homemade. Please see our list of preferred vendors who we trust to provide excellent service. Please discuss your food menu with us prior to your booking.

We offer the use of our on-site kitchen for light food prep and heating. All cutlery, plating, napkins, etc. must be provided by the caterer/renter. Only glassware is provided by Higher Grounds/The Cellar. Catering services must be arranged by the renter and is not included in the Higher Grounds rental fee.

No beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are permitted to be brought onsite. Drinks can be purchased from Higher Grounds/The Cellar. Special beverage requests can be arranged with us prior to the event.

Am I allowed to use my own bartenders or have my caterer provide bar service?

All beverage service at Higher Grounds/The Cellar will be exclusively provided through our in-house bar. We offer a carefully-selected assortment of canned and bottled local and domestic beer, wine, coolers, and ciders. Special beverage offerings can be requested and discussed with us prior to the event.

When can my vendors be present onsite?

We only book one event per day to ensure the best experience for every client. Vendors can set up two hours prior to the rental start and tear down up to one hour after the event.  You are welcome to coordinate any small deliveries to the cafe bar throughout the day.

Am I responsible for clean up?

Higher Grounds/The Cellar will clean the space before and after your event including: sweeping, mopping, detailing the washrooms, and taking care of any minor repairs.

In order to get your full security deposit back, your caterer (or you) must complete the following breakdown procedures immediately following your event:

  1. Any décor brought onto the site should be removed at the end of the night.  You may store personal items (neatly packed and consolidated) overnight, but must make previous arrangements with a staff member and arrange a pick-up time.

  2. Tables and chairs must be put back in original positions. 

  3. All food and beverages must be removed from the kitchen.

  4. Break down all boxes, separate out recyclable items, bag all trash, and remove from the kitchen at the close of the event.

Can I decorate and/or rearrange the room?

Outside decorations are allowed. We do not allow anything to be hung from painted surfaces, and the host at the close of the event must remove all decorations. While our tables and chairs can be rearranged, space is limited and it may reduce our seating capacity. Damage to premises and/or damage or stolen decor will forfeit deposit.

Is parking available?

There is plenty of free lot and street parking available near Higher Grounds/The Cellar. 

Is Higher Grounds/the cellar wheelchair accessible?


Does the building have A/C and heat?

Higher Grounds is comfortably heated and has an air exchange system. 

Please email for availability and booking.