Archive for June, 2015

Village Bikes

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Pedalling into Steveston’s Future

Village_Bikes_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaIt is unlikely that any Steveston business owner other than Brett Martyniuk can claim to be a fourth generation Steveston merchant.

The Martyniuk family planted roots in this community in the late 1930s when Brett’s great-grandfather Peter Martyniuk founded Steveston Barbers. He operated his shop in the same location that Village Bikes now calls home. Brett points out his great-grandfather cut hair in the front of the store and lived in the back of the building.

His grandparents, Gabe and Marg Martyniuk, owned Island Cleaners for approximately forty years. It was situated in the space that now masquerades as the storefront “Any Given Sundae” on the television show Once Upon A Time.

Brett’s parents Ray and Elaine Martyniuk founded and ran Cannery Row Cafe in the mid-1980s, and today his father is the owner and operator of Steveston Water Taxi.

It seems Brett was destined to follow his family’s entrepreneurial path. In May 2007, after sensing there was a demand for a local bicycle shop, he opened Village Bikes.

The bike shop started off selling used bikes and providing repair services and after a short time introduced new bicycles. Norco, Giant and Linus are the primary brands carried, with a focus on families and urban cyclists. Brett points out if a customer is seeking a specific bike model he is more than happy to order it.

Village_Bikes_Interiior_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaAmongst the selection of children’s bikes the balance bike is a popular pick for toddlers. It helps pave the way for their first big kid bike, while eliminating the need to progress to training wheels. Brett says, “Once balance is mastered, learning to pedal is a breeze.”

The front section of the store stocks a variety of accessories to keep every cycling enthusiast happy. Stylish Linus wicker baskets are the perfect finishing touch to add to a cruiser and will help carry your farmers’ market goodies, or a beach towel and a picnic to your destination. Locks, lights and bells all help to personalize your bike.

Nutcase is a fun and popular helmet out of Portland, Oregon. These “brain protectors” comes in a number of styles. Brett indicates the watermelon model is one of their bestsellers.

The American made front mounted iBert Safe-T Seat perches little riders (ages 4 and younger) at the front of their parents’ bike. This allows children to take in the scenery around them rather than a rear-mounted seat where they view mum or dad’s back, and allows for easier communication.

Another way to enjoy the experience of “a bicycle built for two” is by adding a tow bar between the child’s and parent’s bike, and presto, it becomes similar to a tandem, with the parent controlling the steering.

In the back of the store Pierre Bertin competently manages the bike shop’s service department. Annual tune-ups are encouraged to ensure your vehicle is in good working order. Flat tire? With a quick fix and a minimal charge of $10, you will be back in the saddle again.

Steveston is a perfect place to cycle. Not only is it flat, but it also offers bike trails galore from kilometres of dike paths to the Railway Avenue corridor that has been embraced by cyclists and pedestrians alike. If you prefer riding on the road there are bike lanes integrated into Richmond’s streets to encourage this environmentally friendly mode of commuting.
Brett sees a steady stream of couples and families inquiring about his bike rental service. For $10 an hour (or $30 for a full day) a bike is at your disposal to discover the area. Armed with a free map, customers venture off to explore the dike trails, parks and historic sites.

Brett is a proud local ambassador and encourages visitors to loop back to Steveston village for lunch where they will find some of the best restaurants in Richmond.

“When I was growing up it seemed Steveston was a bit of a secret, not a lot of people from outside of Richmond knew where it was. That’s definitely changed with more people moving to Steveston, Lower Mainlanders coming out for day trips and an increase in tourism.”

Village_Bikes_exterior_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaWhen asked what he loves most about running his business Brett replies, “I enjoy building relationships within an awesome community.” Although he has taken a break from Steveston to live in Vancouver he does not dismiss the likelihood of returning to his stomping grounds, as he knows it is a great place to raise a family.

This summer Brett and Village Bikes shop manager Graeme Burns are first time participants in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, which benefits the B.C. Cancer Foundation. The epic two-day 200-kilometre journey to Seattle takes place on August 29-30, 2015.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is an annual charity fundraiser held in various locations across Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. This event is particularly close to Brett’s heart as he lost his mother to cancer in 2013.

“I’m looking forward to doing the ride with thousands of other people who’ve been affected by cancer in so many different ways.”

The Village Bike team hopes to raise $5,000 through a combined effort of online fundraising ( and by donating a percentage of their spring bike tune-up revenue to the event.

As for Brett’s personal training, his commute to Steveston from Vancouver by bike, combined with rides up Burnaby Mountain and through the University Endowment Lands is preparing him for the monumental journey ahead. And in true Steveston-style, his hometown will inevitably be cheering him on!

Village Bikes
3891 Moncton St
Richmond BC V7E 3A7
Telephone 604-274-3865

The Crab King

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

From the Ocean to Your Table

The_Crab_King_exterior_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaAmongst Steveston Harbour’s fishing boats you will find The Crab King, a floating restaurant offering an up close and personal encounter with Canada’s largest commercial fishing fleet. Being level with the water offers a unique dining experience unlike any other restaurant in the area.

Here you will have a first hand look at vessels returning with their haul, and you may even catch fisherman Ha Dinh (father of Van Dinh, The Crab King’s owner and chef) unloading his freshly caught Dungeness crabs from his boat, the Hai Phong. It doesn’t get fresher than this. In fact, Van reports this is one of the standout features of his business.

The Crab King takes great pride in delivering crabs directly “from the ocean to your table.”

The business opened in 2011. It was originally an open-air concept; however, the limitations of rain and wind necessitated enclosing the space, allowing customers to dine inside. Once a roof and walls were incorporated this also gave Van an opportunity to apply for a liquor license.

The_Crab_King_Van_Dinh_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaIn 1988 the Dinh family fled their homeland, Vietnam. After a short spell in Hong Kong they made their way to Canada. They called Toronto home for a few years but ended up relocating to the west coast where Ha Dinh worked as a fisherman in Tofino. Van began fishing with his father at an early age, but he did not follow his father’s career path and instead became an air conditioning mechanic.

It was during a visit to a Seattle restaurant, which specializes in crab, that Van’s concept of The Crab King was born. He realized the Lower Mainland sorely lacked such a business and with his lifelong knowledge he could offer Steveston a fresh off the boat dining experience bar none.

Crab season is regulated to avoid over fishing, therefore the crustacean appears on the menu between late June through to the end of November when the business closes temporarily for the season (and reopens in early spring).

The_Crab_King_crab_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaOnly the most robust crabs meet Van’s strict quality control and the daily catch is stored in a live tank at the restaurant’s entrance. Van points out, “Crab does not taste the same if it has been frozen. I am an expert, and know the difference in taste as I have been eating it my entire life.”

The Crab King prepares this delicacy in a variety of ways, steamed and accompanied with a number of sauces including black bean, ginger, garlic butter or Thai chili. Corn, potatoes and coleslaw accompany the entrée. Crackers, bibs and baby forks are provided.

If you are not experienced at cracking open a crab don’t let this deter you from this delectable meal. Van and his staff are happy to offer tips to make you an expert in no time.

In addition to crab fresh from the shell, crab poutine is one of The Crab Kings’ most popular choices. Rounding out the menu are pasta dishes, pan-fried fish, fish and chips (again, the fish is fresh off the boat), calamari, crab cakes, salads and even a prime rib burger.

Van says, “Steveston is a very friendly and receptive community to run a business. I like working here. It has a small hometown feeling.”
It is personal connections that mean the most to him. He explains, “Every person I meet has a story to tell. Talking to people is knowledge. Through conversations you can learn so much – it is mesmerizing.”

The_Crab_King_seating_Steveston_Insider_Palla_MediaWhen opening The Crab King his ultimate goal was to “put smiles on peoples’ faces.” Van believes, “People work so hard, some of them struggle, and the least I can do is give them a meal they will really enjoy.”

A peek at The Crab King’s Facebook page confirms that Van is indeed actively involved with his customers as he appears alongside them in many photographs. He enjoys the reward of serving people and assisting them as needed. If someone needs help walking up the ramp or opening a door, Van is there. He says, “It doesn’t cost me anything to offer this kindness – and it makes me feel good.”

At the end of a meal the most gratifying feedback Van likes to hear is, “That was delicious.” He concludes, “I like to see people happy, and food is one way of doing this.”

The Crab King
3540 Bayview St (floating)
Richmond BC V7E 5W3
Telephone 604-448-8801