From Flophouses to Coffee Houses

When Frank was 13 he discovered a love of alcohol. By the time he was 21 he was a full-blown alcoholic, and his family kicked him out of their Toronto home. He was able to get different jobs, but lost many of them due to his drinking. He eventually found himself living in flophouses or sleeping on park benches. It didn’t really matter to him, as long as he was drunk. He occasionally worked at a store, and if the weather were nice he’d hit the street and ask people for change until he had enough for a bottle of wine.

One day while at the store he heard a radio ad for an alcohol support group. While he didn’t immediately go, the ad stuck with him and just before Christmas, 1971, he had a moment of clarity about his life. He started going to the support group, found it helpful and was able to get himself sober.

Frank continued to get his life together, and three years later at the age of 29 he was selling construction equipment and volunteering in a political campaign. During the campaign, he met another volunteer named Tom Culligan and they found they had chemistry working together. They teamed up, and in 1975 they opened up their first coffee shop, Second Cup.

Frank O’Dea eventually left the business, but the company he started is currently the second biggest Canadian coffee chain. After leaving the company, Frank O’Dea has become a motivational speaker and has started many charities, including Renascent Treatment Foundation and Street Kids International.


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