Archive for April, 2015

Little Mexico Cantina

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Regional Mexican Food at Home in Steveston:

Hola! Steveston’s Little Mexico Cantina has a new owner and changes to the established business have been dramatic.

Little Mexico Cantina Carol Janeczko Steveston InsiderCarol Janeczko purchased the restaurant last July and has been busy reinventing the space to make it her own. This Manitoba born business owner is a fireball of energy. Along with Chef Roberto Lopez Lara, she has reworked the entire menu, and they are in the process of giving the restaurant’s interior a major facelift.

Little Mexico Cantina Chef Steveston InsiderLast Christmas the pair installed a stone wall. They have been asked many times whom they hired and they proudly report they did it themselves. When Janeczko was a child she watched and learnt skills from her father. She says, “I stole with my eyes, watching my father work. There is nothing women can’t do.” She is full of surprises, and reveals that in addition to her renovation skills, one of her favourite hobbies is deep-sea fishing in Haida Gwaii.

The décor has also changed. Black and white photographs, sundials and authentic charro hats are all tastefully displayed. A countertop constructed from salvaged Cypress wood will be installed to create new bar side seating.

Passion for her new found career is right on the surface. Janeczko says, “I had always wanted to operate a restaurant. I have more yesterdays than tomorrows. This is a dream come true.”

Janeczko confesses that the hours are long, however, she adds, “My worst day here beats any best day at my past jobs. This is a labour of love.”

Little Mexico Cantina bar Steveston InsiderThere is no question she loves her work. Janeczko is at the restaurant seven days a week, and she is making the most of it by experiencing all aspects of the business. She serves, bartends, washes dishes, sweeps floors, and line cooks alongside Chef Roberto. They even shop together to source out the freshest ingredients.

Back home in Manitoba, when she was raising her own family, Janeczko boarded a number of international students and became fascinated with other parts of the world. Subsequently, she travelled extensively through central and coastal Mexico, and feels such a strong kinship to the country that she refers to herself as an honourary Mexican. Chef Roberto concurs with a smile.

He comes from Mexico’s Tamaulipas state, located on the Gulf of Mexico (bordering the state of Texas). Ironically, there is a Polish population in this area, mirroring Janeczko’s family heritage, and this deepens her connection to this particular region.

The menu is like a road map to regional Mexican cuisine. Dishes have been chosen to expose diners to “a little taste of what Mexicans really eat,” says Chef Roberto.

The goal is to make the dining experience as authentic as possible. You will not find Mexi-fries or hard-shell tacos at Little Mexico Cantina.

What you will find is soft corn tortillas, meat that has been braised for 8 hours (no short cuts are taken), grass-fed beef from a local farm, chorizo made by Chef Roberto from his grandfather’s recipe, housemade seasonings and fresh salsa made daily. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are all available.

A tasty and well-rounded taco menu tempts guests to experience what Chef Roberto calls “the people’s food.” Order a few, they are very reasonably priced ($4 to $5). The tastes and spices will dance in your mouth.

A seaside treat is the Ensenada Style Fish Taco featuring grilled red snapper with house seasoning. It is topped with guacamole sauce and a mix of shredded white and purple cabbage. The Beef Barbacoa Taco is another crowd pleaser. It features slowly braised beef topped with diced onions, chopped cilantro and is served with lime and chile de arbol sauce.

In addition to the taco menu, you will find a number of chef’s specials to tempt your taste buds and a variety of Mezcal and Tequila to pair with your meal. Chef Roberto points out that contrary to popular belief, these drinks should not be knocked back in one gulp; in fact they should be sipped. “Kiss the glass,” he says.

Little Mexico Cantina exterior Steveston InsiderOne of the signs of a popular restaurant is a line up, and Janeczko says this has been known to happen. She reports people of all ages have discovered the dining spot, from families to high school students, all have been enjoying Little Mexico Cantina.

If your budget does not allow for a trip to Mexico, or if you are craving a taste for authentic Mexican cuisine, head to Little Mexico Cantina. Short of the sand and the sun, you will feel like you have escaped to paradise. You can even test your Spanish; a few of the staff are Spanish speaking and would be happy to engage. Like Janeczko, you too may leave feeling a strong pull south.

Little Mexico Cantina
150-3131 Chatham Street
Richmond BC V7E 2Y4
Telephone 604-272-5123

Jet-Lag Travel Fashion Boutique

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Where Fashion and Fitness Meet:

Jet-Lag Travel Fashion Vicki Hodgson Steveston InsiderJet-Lag Travel Fashion Boutique is a goldmine for women’s clothing, whether you are wanting to get out of town or have no plans to be anywhere but sunny Steveston.

Vicki Hodgson is celebrating her tenth year as the second owner of Jet-Lag, which opened in 1980. Longtime Steveston residents may recall the Second Avenue boutique was formerly located on Moncton Street.

The fashion boutique originally had more of a travel wear focus. Hodgson decided to introduce everyday fashion to the store, as she realized the demographic of women ages 40 plus is sorely neglected at many clothing stores.

Hodgson is a long term Richmond resident and always enjoyed visiting Steveston village. Before owning Jet-Lag she enjoyed a fast paced career as a general manager of a group of retail businesses. The time came when she felt ready for a lifestyle change. Hodgson had been a Jet-Lag customer, and when she heard the business was for sale she decided it was the perfect fit.

People travel from far and wide to shop at the boutique. Many head straight for a cup of complimentary herbal tea and then begin their shopping adventure as they browse the clothing racks.

Hodgson focuses on carrying a wide range of Canadian made or designed clothing. She estimates that 75 percent of her stock falls into this category, which not only ensures quality but also leaves shoppers feeling good about supporting our economy.

Joseph Ribkoff creates beautiful dresses and sportswear which draws people to the store. All of this Canadian company’s clothing is designed, sewn and produced in Dorval, Quebec, which is a remarkable feat in today’s fashion world.

Other respected Canadian lines include French Dressing Jeans (FDJ) which features a variety of pants, jeans, capris, skirts, tops and jackets. For every pair of jeans sold, FDJ donates a portion of the sale to national, regional and local breast cancer organizations throughout North America.

Hodgson is committed to supporting companies with integrity.

Ontario based Neon Buddha donates one percent of all sales to various projects to make the world a better place. In addition, the clothes are constructed from 100 percent pre-shrunk cotton and are a wonderful choice for West Coast lifestyles with a focus on travel, home, work and yoga.

Montreal based company Libra is known for its bold and exciting prints with an emphasis on unique styling and playful versatility.

Hodgson says, “Ontario made EZZE Wear is a huge line for the store.” Customers are drawn to the colourful range of cottons for both summer and travel wear. If you are a fan of eco-friendly hemp and bamboo clothing, check out Efforts Hempwear. Jet-Lag also carries popular clothing lines Columbia, Lewis & Clark and Woolrich.

Jet-Lag Travel Fashion hats Steveston InsiderBeyond clothing, Hodgson stocks a wide variety of travel items to make life easier when you fly off or set sail on vacation. Locks, adapters, converters, travel scales, bag tags, neck pillows, flight socks and even fast drying underwear can all be found here.

While by day the store is a busy fashion hub, in the evening it often transforms into a mini-community centre of sorts.

Hodgson creatively makes use of the retail space by hosting, in conjunction with travel agent Christine Boecker, the Girls Going Global Travel Club for talks and slide shows, dinners, packing and fashion demonstrations, fundraisers and other special events. Speakers discuss travel related opportunities or topics specifically relevant to women.

Jet-Lag is the first clothing store I am aware that offers pilates and yoga classes. The space is perfectly suited for this purpose. Hodgson slides aside clothing racks, and voilà, there is an incredible amount of floor space.

Twice a week classes are held, with Hodgson working out alongside fellow fitness enthusiasts. Commenting on this unique concept she says, “I thought it would be cool to offer classes to customers tailored to their needs.”

The fitness classes are well suited for women ages 40 and older. Hodgson says there are women in their 80s actively participating. Weights and bands are used to target the common complaint areas (think tummies and under arm “wings”) that Hodgson and her long time staff Maxine Barclay and Pat Lee hear women lament as they try on clothes.

Hodgson says, “Fitness marries well with the business. It combines the whole concept. When you travel you can do much more when you are in shape.” She offers these additional services to her clients because she loves her job and likes to give back to the community.

Jet-Lag Travel Fashion exterior Steveston Insider“I have met a wonderful network of women through this store,” Hodgson says with a smile. And what can be more rewarding than coming to work where she can have a cup of tea with friends while they try on clothes, and engage in friendly conversation and laughter?

Jet-Lag Travel Fashion Boutique
110-12031 Second Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L6
Telephone 604-277-3331