In a small town south of Ottawa, a spooky door has creaked open for fans of horror films.

Deadly Grounds Café and Curiosities offers themed drinks, cool snacks and a horrifying — but somehow cosy — atmosphere. The café in Carleton Place is the third in Canada; the Deadly Grounds originated in the United States.

Michael and Catherine Sulyha opened the doors on their café in July. The two have been fans of horror for as long as they can remember. Their wedding photos even feature Friday the 13th’s killer, Jason, standing in the background. 

“[Opening a café] was not in our plans at all,” Michael told Capital Current. “It just grew naturally after visiting the first Deadly Grounds. We went down when it first opened and it was the coolest thing ever.”

The drink menu is hot and cold, with names such as “Camp Crystal Lake” (a toasted marshmallow white chocolate latte named after a location in Friday the 13th) and “Rigor Tortoise” (chocolate caramel butter pecan latte). The theme carries on with the snacks, featuring items such as a spiral doughnut based on the “Saw” (2004) franchise. The café also sells many horror-themed “curiosities” (bracelets, earrings, key chains and more) created by local businesses. 

Walking into Deadly Grounds, you will be greeted by the smell of fresh coffee and the terrifying face of a four-foot rat animatronic. The café is small, pleasant but packed with horror paraphernalia. Posters and paintings cover the walls and rainbow light bulbs fade into different colours.

Sitting at a table and enjoying a hot “Myers Macchiato” (a pumpkin caramel vanilla latte), the cheerful atmosphere is a welcome escape from the cold. 

From the “Saw” inspired bathroom to the animatronic Pennywise the clown from “IT” (2017), the space pays homage to the horror movie genre. One of the latest additions is the iconic spirit-possessed hand from the 2022 hit film “Talk to me.” 

“We’re quite unique,” Michael said. “We knew as soon as we were building this that we had something very different on our hands.”

The other two Deadly Grounds Café and Curiosities location in Canada are in Oshawa. The American-based company was first brought to Canada in 2015 by Brad Mavin and Arielle Burton, after Mavin crossed paths with Deadly Grounds at the 2013 Scare-a-Con in Verona, New York.

Michael and Catherine Sulyha started their journey by selling Deadly Grounds brand coffee at the Queens Crafters and Antique Market in Carleton Place in 2020. The business there was so good they kept moving to larger spaces, eventually opening the café. 

“We’re only four and a half months in and we already have so many regulars,” Michael said. “Business has been great; the community, the town, has embraced us.”

He told Capital Current he hopes to open other cafés across Ottawa. A café chain like this could bring new life to the scary scene, some say. 

“My world isn’t too grand, so I can’t accurately describe the size of the horror community in Ottawa from my experiences alone … but it isn’t [very big],” Wyatt Owens, a local horror enthusiast says. “A horror themed café would be absolutely badass. It would create a nice casual spot for fellow horror enjoyers.”

If you want to go: Deadly Grounds is at 1 Costello Dr., Unit 5 in Carleton Place. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.