Archive for May, 2016

Pizza Factory

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Warm Smiles and Great Tasting Pizza

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_2_Steveston_Palla_MediaIf you haven’t stopped by Pizza Factory recently it may be time to stroll in and meet the new owners who purchased the business three months ago. Kulvir Aujla and her husband Sukhi are quickly earning a reputation not only for their great tasting pizza but also for their warm and friendly service.

The business is truly a family affair. Kulvir is the primary owner and Sukhi assists her in the kitchen along with marketing the business and making deliveries. Their niece Alyssa McGahey is also actively involved on the front end. In addition, Sukhi’s father and the couple’s son and daughter come in to assist and volunteer their time.

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_sukhi_Steveston_Palla_MediaAnother behind the scenes promoter is Sukhi’s mother. Kulvir says, “She is an ambassador and promotes Pizza Factory to seniors. Our kids have also been actively promoting the business to their friends and sports teams.”

Sometimes when an opportunity crosses your path you have to jump at it. Kulvir was working in management at Walmart when she heard through the grapevine that Pizza Factory in Steveston was for sale. With an extensive background in the restaurant industry she felt the time was ripe to make the leap and run her own business.

They gave the restaurant a fresh makeover with olive green paint, new seating, a new countertop and wall signage to showcase the full menu.

A fun new seaside logo features a friendly orca named “Pep” (short for pepperoni). In the future Pep will become a costumed mascot. They are grateful to Yeti Works in Steveston village for designing their fun logo and website. Sukhi and Kulvir point out that they are eager to support local businesses.

What are the couple finding most rewarding in the early days of running the business?

They say working together for the first time is a pleasure. They are also feeling empowered being self-employed which allows them the freedom to make decisions for their business. They thoroughly enjoy getting to know their customers as they drop in and become regulars. Sukhi says, “Our intention is it run it like the TV show Cheers.”

“We’re having a good time. That’s what we want to do.” Sukhi Aujla

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_samosa_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe Aujlas live in Richmond’s Hamilton neighbourhood, but have always had an affinity for Steveston. They believe the two areas share a similar spirit. They are excited to be a part of Steveston’s business community and are demonstrating their philanthropic nature by supporting local events.

Recently they donated 15 pizzas to a group of McMath Secondary School students who participated in Convenant House’s Sleep Out to Support Homeless Youth. Pizza Factory has also become the official pizza supplier for the Islanders 04 softball team. Kulvir says, “We are actively looking to support local sports teams in Richmond.”

Over the Easter weekend Pizza Factory staged a three day customer appreciation blitz. A team of 30 volunteers (aka friends and family) helped to conduct this marketing campaign by wearing matching “Ask me how to get a free slice” t-shirts as they handed out coupons throughout Steveston. People lined up around the block to take advantage of this tempting offer and over the course of three days 1,300 slices were served. In the process they discovered ninety per cent of the people who dropped by the business didn’t know they existed.

To introduce more clients to their business they suggest swinging by on July 1 to see what fun things they will be doing to celebrate Canada Day.

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_1_Steveston_Palla_MediaNew to Pizza Factory are loyalty cards and pizza by the slice. High school students in particular appreciate being able to drop by at lunchtime with the new earlier business hours (open at 11 a.m.). For Kulvir and Sukhi it is all about forging a symbiotic relationship with their customers. Their intention is to always keep the question “what can we do for you?” in the foreground of conducting business. The direct result of a customer’s request, Pizza Factory now offers 15% off take out pizzas.

“Our customers appreciate us as much as we appreciate them.”  Kulvir Aujla

While Pizza Factory is a franchise each location is given freedom to customize their business to best fit the community. They are not restricted to abide by a set menu and can introduce special items such as chicken and veggie samosas, Punjabi-style pizza and butter chicken may soon be introduced. Some of the top sellers include Hawaiian, house special, taco, bacon burger, barbecue chicken, spinach and of course, kid pleasing favourites, cheese and pepperoni pizzas. Gluten-free is available for medium size pizzas and whole-wheat crust is available upon request. All of the dough is made fresh each morning.

“If we’re blessed by the pizza gods we make dough more than once a day.” Sukhi Aujla

Every business has good stories and one unfolded during our interview. A Power Rangers film production member came in with a request for 42 pizzas for the crew, which were needed the following day. He had heard the buzz that Pizza Factory was the place to go for exceptionally friendly service.

It couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Pizza Factory
120-12020 First Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L9
Telephone: 604-233-7777
www.pizzafactoryrichmond.ca

Steveston: Small Business Community Thinks Big

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Steveston Village SceneYou may have heard people talking about the SMA and BIA, but what are they and what is the difference between them?

The Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) was formed in 2010 by a group of business owners whose goal was to promote local businesses and drive more customers to their services, shops and restaurants through seasonal events, small scale advertising, a website and social media. With an elective paid membership the SMA does not encompass the entire business district, resulting in a smaller funding pool although events and promotions benefit the entire village.

An elected volunteer board is responsible for organizing popular events such as Christmas in Steveston Village, Girls’ Night Out, the Scarecrow Crawl and Trick or Treat in Steveston Village and has been a voice for many important area concerns.

While the work the SMA accomplishes is outstanding, the merchants’ association model is antiquated.

BIA stands for Business Improvement Areas and what this model offers is far reaching for both merchants and the entire community. Examples of what can be achieved for Steveston include a year round focus for promotional programs and activities, collective advertising and special events designed to drive more visitors to the area. Issues such as pedestrian scale lighting and parking improvements are also a focus of many BIAs.

Steveston’s business community is losing ground as business districts in virtually every surrounding region of Metro Vancouver and throughout B.C. have embraced BIAs. In comparison, Steveston is at a disadvantage without a BIA.

Business districts can dream big with input from a full membership’s participation at the board and committee level.

A simple way to explain a BIA is to imagine a shopping mall management system. All malls have systems in place to drive customers to the mall to benefit business tenants. Steveston without a BIA is like an outdoor mall with no big picture promotional direction. It just isn’t competitive nor does it come close to realized improved potential.

BIAs are able to plan further into the future to successfully promote areas. A BIA is approved by a vote and all businesses within a BIA’s boundaries automatically become members, creating a larger collective voice working for the betterment of businesses and the community.

A BIA is uniquely created for an area, no two are identical, and therefore Steveston could capitalize on its distinct locale where farmland meets the ocean and a historic fishing village.

Jim_vandertas_BlueCanoe_Steveston Village Palla MediaJim van der Tas, owner of the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant (and president of the SMA) believes the sky’s the limit. He envisions everything from an Oktoberfest celebration spread over a number of days to celebrating a new Steveston heritage festival and transforming the entire village into a Christmas wonderland for the month of December to draw people to town.

Getting a BIA off the ground takes a lot of work and commitment from volunteers who believe that focusing on a bigger picture can produce some very effective results.

A new committee called the Steveston Business Development Association (SBDA) has formed under the SMA’s umbrella to partner cooperatively with other local non-profits that see the value a BIA brings to an entire community.

A municipality can’t force a BIA into a business community and generally shouldn’t stop a BIA start up group from asking them to initiate the voting procedure if the group has done positive outreach. After well over a decade of discussion Steveston merchants, land owners and key stakeholders have not gone before City council to ask for the BIA voting procedure but expect to this calendar year.

Peter Tong Pharmasave Steveston Village Palla MediaPeter Tong, owner of Steveston Pharmasave, comments,“ I think a BIA is very important for Steveston.”

“Looking at this unique location and the sensitivity businesses have in trying to protect the history, integrity and feel of the community; there are a lot of political and business challenges that are hard for each business to face alone,” Tong says.

He adds, “Promoting the village, rather than one single business, attracts more people and creates an atmosphere within the village that can only benefit Steveston. I think there are certainly frustrations amongst some business owners who have seen what other BIAs have done and strongly believe one is needed to start promoting the village. The sooner we get this done the better.

Carol_LittleMexico_Steveston Village Palla MediaCarol Janeczko, owner of Little Mexico Cantina, believes, “The opportunity to revitalize Steveston through the formation of a BIA is an exciting prospect. Looking at other similar business districts such as Fort Langley and Cloverdale and seeing what they have accomplished for their communities through elaborate events, marketing and beautification projects is inspiring. It would be amazing to see Steveston advance to that level.”

Jens Hertha DOriginal_Sausage_Steveston Village Palla MediaJens Hertha, owner of D’Original Sausage Haus, agrees. “I am excited about the possibility of having a BIA in Steveston. It would make Steveston stronger. For a business like mine the cost would be less than $200 per year. I strongly believe that a BIA is an investment and everybody benefits from a strong, vibrant business district.”Hertha believes, “This BIA initiative is a significant opportunity and every business and commercial property should plan to learn about it firsthand. This is too important an opportunity to be making a decision about a BIA based on nonfactual information or hearsay from third parties. Make an appointment with the organizers to talk about it.”

To learn more email:
weareopenforbusiness@gmail.com

Doors Open Richmond 2016

Friday, May 6th, 2016

The Best of Steveston’s Heritage, Art and Culture

By Charles Takaesu and Gabrielle Sharp

Steveston_Visitor_Ctr_Palla_MediaDiscover Steveston’s heritage, arts and culture during the free Doors Open Richmond 2016 city-wide event, on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Twelve Doors Open sites are based in Steveston and showcase the area’s past and present.

Steveston Village is a great starting point for your weekend activities, with many sites clustered within walking distance of local restaurants and shops. Experience delicious dining, unique shopping and fabulous culture all in a single weekend!

Steveston_Gulf_of_Georgia_Cannery_Palla_MediaAt the west end of Steveston Village, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery (12138 Fourth Avenue) is offering “Under the Rafters” tours, a rare behind-the-scenes experience exploring areas of the cannery typically closed to the public. This tour is not wheelchair accessible. Please pre-register by calling 604-664-9009, as space is limited. There are two tours each day, at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Although the “Under the Rafters” tour is free, normal admission rates apply for guests who wish to visit the regular exhibits.

Watch a silversmithing class in action at Juvelisto Design and School of Metal Arts (120-3500 Moncton Street) and chat with owner Sasha Shkolnik. Juvelisto Design specializes in beautiful one-of-a-kind jewellery made by Sasha and other gifted artists.

Tour the Steveston Museum and Visitor Centre (3811 Moncton Street) in the heart of Steveston Village. Experience the diversity of Steveston’s history through the newly landscaped, Japanese-inspired Town Square Park and the Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Building that was opened a year ago. The first 200 people on each day will receive a mini-plant pot and children can enjoy trying the Japanese art of origami.

Steveston_Tram_Palla_MediaAlthough access to the tramcar may be limited due to restoration, stop by the Steveston Interurban Tram Building (4011 Moncton Street) for an Open House including children’s crafts.

Painter and teacher Adrienne Moore is opening her Home Studio (3171 Chatham Street) to the public during Doors Open. Adrienne employs a wide variety of styles and subjects, from local landscapes to mixed media and abstract expressionism. Visit Adrienne’s studio, filled to the brim with her vibrant work, and meet the artist to learn about her painting techniques.

Steveston_JapaneseBldg_Palla_MediaThe Steveston Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (4255 Moncton Street) is bustling with activity during the event weekend. Visitors can choose from displays, demonstrations, presentations and interactive activities on the culture, history and traditions of Steveston’s Japanese Canadian community.

A short walk northeast of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, the Steveston Buddhist Temple (4360 Garry Street) is the oldest standing Buddhist Temple in the lower mainland. Tours are available throughout Doors Open, and Introduction to Buddhism sessions are offered each day at 1:00 pm. On Saturday, enjoy a Japanese cooking demonstration and Seiza Meditation. Sunday features the morning service (opened to the public) and a cultural presentation in the late afternoon.

Steveston_Fire_Station_Palla_MediaAt the “gateway to Steveston”, visit the Steveston Fire Station (11011 No.2 Road) to meet fire fighters and Blaze the Dalmatian mascot. Tour the state-of-the-art fire hall and learn how to keep your family safe from house fires in the educational fire trailer.

Steveston_Branscombe_House_Palla_MediaRhonda Weppler, inaugural Artist-in-Residence at Branscombe House (4900 Steveston Highway) invites visitors of all ages to participate in the International Picnic Project, a still-life mural featuring Richmond’s international foods. Guests can contribute a drawing, painting, or collage of their favourite (locally available) international food in exchange for a candy gift inspired by Rhonda’s favourite ethnic food. Rhonda is also exhibiting a series of tiny marzipan food sculptures, created by local art students, representing Richmond’s culinary diversity.

Steveston_London_Heritage_Farm_Palla_MediaA must-visit for afternoon tea lovers, London Heritage Farm (6511 Dyke Road) features period themed rooms in a restored farmhouse, herb and perennial gardens and a Hand Tool Museum. Stop in for London Lady Tea and tasty treats in the Tea Room between 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm.

Steveston_Britannia_Shipyard_Palla_MediaBritannia Shipyards (5180 Westwater Drive) is hosting a veritable bounty of activities during Doors Open. The Dragon Zone Paddling Club offers a unique opportunity to get out on the water and try the exciting sport of dragon boating. There are four 30 minute sessions each day, at 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm, with a limit of one session per person. Pre-register by calling 604-718-8050 to reserve your spot. Visit a series of new exhibits at the Seine Net Loft and learn Morse code with radio historian Tom Brent at the Murakami Boatworks. Saturday activities at the Richmond Boat Builders include a Shipwright talk and Drop-In Boat Building, while Sunday offers Children’s Boat Building and Decorative Knot Tying.

Steveston_Steves_Farmhouse_Palla_MediaRevisit Steveston’s roots with a trip to the Steves Family Farmhouse (2871 Steveston Highway). Steveston is named after Martha and Manoah Steves, whose family founded the farm in 1877. The farm is still active today under the direction of their great grandson, Councillor Harold Steves. Tour parts of the farmhouse and peruse a large collection of artwork and historical objects. Heirloom seed gardens and antique farm equipment are also on display throughout Doors Open weekend.

Steveston_River_Queen_Boat_Palla_MediaFinally, hop aboard the River Queen Water Shuttle for a fully narrated nature and history tour of Steveston’s waterfront. This year, the River Queen will travel between Fisherman’s Wharf on the 2nd Avenue float, and the Britannia Shipyards dock. One way tickets between destinations are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, $4 for children aged 4 to 12, while children under 4 ride free.

Join us for our Doors Open Richmond 2016 Opening Kickoff at Minoru Chapel and Pierrefonds Gardens (6540 Gilbert Road) on Friday June 3rd, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This year’s kickoff event features free live music, crafts, light refreshments and vibrant displays.

Remember, these are only 12 of the 42 sites offered throughout Richmond on June 4 and 5. To find out more about Doors Open Richmond 2016, pick up a map brochure now available at City of Richmond facilities or visit www.richmond.ca/doorsopen.