Posts Tagged ‘food’

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

Ora Sushi Japanese Grill

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Quality Sushi Made With Love

Ora_Sushi_June2_Steveston_Palla_MediaOra is the Korean word for “come again, or welcome” and it is the perfect name for this new Moncton Street restaurant. Ora Sushi owner June Shim personifies the business name with her welcoming and gracious manner.

After an extensive floor to ceiling renovation Ora Sushi opened in early August and the response has been tremendous.

Shim is no stranger to restaurant ownership. Customers who were familiar with her former business, Kimchi Nara Korean BBQ, are delighted to discover she has embarked on a new venture. She operated Kimchi Nara Korean BBQ in downtown Richmond for 10 years. Subsequently, she worked as a manager of a local sushi restaurant for three years and then decided it was time to return to her favourite place, the kitchen, and run her own business.

Past clients are delighted that she has opened a new restaurant. Ora Sushi has also established a new and enthusiastic clientele who are discovering why her cooking has earned such an excellent reputation.

Her passion for food and her culinary talent stems from having grown up in the food industry. She reveals her mother is also an amazing cook and her parents owned a restaurant in Korea. Shim loves to garden and grows many different kinds of Korean herbs and vegetables in her backyard.

She feels extremely happy when she cooks and derives joy from meeting customers. Regarding owning her business she says, “It is a much more satisfying personal stake.”

Locals and visitors alike are discovering Ora Sushi’s tasty and artfully presented dishes.

This new enterprise is a detour from her former Korean BBQ as sushi takes the spotlight on the menu. All of the sauces are made in house. Quality is of utmost importance to her. She insists on using only wild caught Pacific salmon and red tuna and she begins each day by visiting local vegetable markets to select produce.

Ora_Sushi_Roll1_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe Nori (seaweed) is premium quality without the use of coatings or artificial preservatives. Ora Sushi uses premium Japanese sushi rice, low sodium soya sauce, and natural ginger. Some gluten free dishes are offered. In addition to a focus on health conscious food, Ora Sushi strives to provide a friendly, welcoming, personal dining experience.

She says, “I am always thinking about cooking and the presentation of food.”

Presentation is most certainly a huge part of the Ora Sushi experience. All selections are artfully arranged on Villeroy and Boch German porcelain and on unique Japanese serving plates.

Ora_Sushi_Roll2_Steveston_Palla_MediaFun names for some of the signature special rolls include the Crazy Roll, Mr. Big Roll, Monster Bite and 911. Speaking of the Crazy Roll, it is crazy good. I have not been able to stop thinking about this delicious, crispy, warm signature California roll with its three sauces.

Another highly recommended specialty, the Golden Roll, is cooked in a cast iron pan and is comprised of avocado, cucumber, imitation crab, baked salmon and tobiko with cheese on top.

If you are a sushi novice the Caterpillar Roll as a good place to begin. It contains asparagus, imitation crab, avocado, and cucumber with sliced avocado.
The extensive menu offers a large selection of appetizers such as Chicken Yakatori, Grilled Mussels, “Monkey Brain” (deep fried avocado with crab meat), Oyster Motoyaki (grilled oysters with veggies, mayo and cheese) and Ebi Gyoza.

Ora_Sushi_Roll3_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe menu features a few favourites from her past business such as Bibimbap, Kalbi BBQ beef and Udon. Maki sushi, sashimi, nigiri sushi and noodle dishes round out the extensive menu. Bento boxes and set lunches and dinners are also featured.

Shim and her husband, local RE/MAX realtor Kevin McDowell, met in Korea in 1992 and have lived in Richmond since 1997. They have two grown children, one is finishing high school, and the other is attending university. Both their son and daughter work at the business part-time.

Although fully immersed in her new business she still finds time to be actively involved with the two churches her family attends. The family belongs to the Korean Jireh Presbyterian Church in Vancouver and also Trinity Lutheran Church in Richmond. She regularly donates her time to the Korean fellowship committee that provides hot lunches on a weekly basis. She says, “Food is a part of my life and I like making people happy.”

The response from local merchants has been tremendous; neighbouring business owners regularly pop in to order lunch to go.

Ora_Sushi_street_sign_StevestonThe holiday season will soon be here. If you are entertaining at home consider impressing your guests with an Ora Sushi party tray. Open six days a week for lunch and dinner (consult the website for hours), this Steveston newcomer deserves a big welcome – and an even bigger thank you for choosing the village to set up shop!

Ora Sushi Japanese Grill
120-3651 Moncton St
Richmond BC V7E 3A5
Telephone: 604-284-3880
www.orasushi.com

Cannery Farmers’ Market

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Cannery Farmers MarketThis fall the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society is very pleased to take over operation of Steveston’s winter farmers’ market. Taking place in the unique Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, the newly-branded Cannery Farmers’ Market will open its doors Sunday, October 5th and operate every other Sunday to the end of April 2015.

From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., visitors can enjoy a cozy atmosphere, fresh food, and a variety of vendors showcasing products that follow the “make it, bake it, catch it, grow it” credo. Building on the work of the Steveston Farmers and Artisans Market, the Cannery Farmers’ Market is committed to offering even more local food and creating a welcoming community space.

Society Chair, Dave Semple is excited about this new undertaking. “We are committed to working with the community to offer events that appeal to locals and to help keep the village lively through the winter months. We are looking forward to creating a place where neighbours can come together to get to know each other better and do a little shopping at the same time.”

Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston BCThe Cannery Farmers’ market is not only a great place to purchase local foods and crafts, but is also a place to enjoy the day with family and friends. Varied vendors and featured entertainment have something to offer everyone. A kids’ area, surprise demonstrations and workshops from “foodies” and experts will keep young and old interested. Vendors and public mingle in a social environment designed to become a traditional winter Sunday hangout.

Free to the public each market day, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site provides a unique one-of-a-kind space for a community event. To create an intimate and friendly atmosphere, the Cannery has installed additional overhead heaters and will offer other touches of comfort. Helping make this happen is team of local volunteers, dedicated vendors, faithful visitors and Cannery staff. You are invited to join in the commitment to build a unique and Steveston-enhancing, sustainable event.

For more information and market dates please visit www.canneryfarmersmarket.org. To join the market team please contact Patricia Toti, Special Event Coordinator, at 604-664-9261 or patricia.toti@pc.gc.ca.

The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site showcases the history of fishing and canning in B.C., and is located in Steveston, at Moncton Street and Third Avenue.

Market dates for 2014 – 2015 are: 

October 5 & 19
November 2, 16 & 30
December 14
January 18
February 1 & 15
March 1, 15, 29 (March 29th Spring Break)
April 12 & 26

Hours: 10 am to 3 pm

http://gulfofgeorgiacannery.com/farmersmarket

Living Cafe

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Amanda Kroetsch - Living Cafe - Steveston InsiderMy interview with Amanda Kroetsch (owner of Living Cafe) began with me seeking advice. Two of my family members have recently been experimenting with new ways of eating; one is now a vegetarian and the other is exploring a gluten-free diet, which has forced me to look at cooking in an entirely different way. She assured me that it is a workable situation and calmed down this grain-eating carnivore!

Kroetsch is highly familiar with a variety of diets, which people choose either as a lifestyle preference, or elect to follow due to a health issue.

For fourteen years Kroetsch battled a long list of unexplained symptoms, which was diagnosed 5 years ago as Celiac disease. She found immediate relief when she adopted a gluten-free diet.

The organically inspired eatery opened last August. Aware that there was nothing like her restaurant in the village Kroetsch wanted to offer the community delicious, wholesome and nutrient dense foods. While she did not train as a chef she brings to the business her vast personal experience.

She admits that a strong desire to create the Living Cafe came from longing to have a place to dine with family and friends without the fear of getting sick and the embarrassment of being the odd one out.

While Kroetsch would ideally like to be a raw vegan she has discovered that a paleo diet (meat, vegetables and fruit) works best for her physiology. Whether you have no dietary restrictions, or you are a vegetarian, vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten-free or have food allergies, Living Cafe offers menu items to satisfy ever diner.

Living Cafe - sandwich - Steveston InsiderLiving Cafe - veg pasta - Steveston InsiderLiving Cafe - breakfast - Steveston InsiderLiving Cafe - baked goods - Steveston InsiderLiving Cafe - dining room - Steveston InsiderShe dispels two myths about her business; it is neither exclusively vegetarian nor is it just a juice bar. So what will you find Living Cafe - exterior - Steveston Insiderinside the busy cafe? The space is divided into two rooms with an archway separating the dining room from the kitchen and retail area. The light green walls of the eating space house a number of tables. Soft music was playing the day my taste testers and I enjoyed lunch. While we waited for our meal we sipped orange and mint infused alkaline water and perused cookbooks found on the bookshelf in the dining room.

Two of us enjoyed the BLT sandwich on gluten-free bread, which tricked us both. It did not taste like any gluten-free bread that I have eaten; it was like the real McCoy. Our other companion dined on the “Tuna” salad sandwich. The tuna is actually made from a raw nut pate (sunflower seeds and almonds) and was given a big two thumbs up, as were the house-made flax veggie crackers.

Only the freshest ingredients are used with a focus on Ocean Wise sustainable seafood sourced from local fishermen, ethical and organic meat and chicken from B.C. farms, free eggs from Rabbit River Farms located in Richmond, and organic produce from local farmers.

Comfort food is a large part of the Living Cafe experience. You will find revamped takes on many favourites that are flavourfully adapted to keep the yum-o-meter registering high. Some of the popular menu items include the vegan Caesar salad made with an in-house dressing and herb focaccia croutons. Smoothies are not made with ice or fillers but rather with organic frozen fruit and almond milk made in-house – Kroetsch describes it as a meal in a glass. The hearty vegan Moroccan stew, Chicken Salad sandwich, Herbivore Hash and Eggs Benny (made with vegan butternut squash hollandaise sauce) are all crowd pleasers.

Speaking of crowds, the cafe has been doing very well since it opened. Kroetsch is pleased to report that every month business has grown. She and her staff of 8 are thrilled by the amazing support of loyal locals and there is a fair amount of drop in traffic too. There is certainly spin off business from hungry whale watchers at neighbouring business Vancouver Whale Watch.

Young families have been great supporters of the restaurant. Steveston resident Tracy Johnstone says she does not know what she or family would do without Living Cafe. Their dietary needs hinge on the gluten-free baked goods that they can find nowhere else in Steveston. She has become one of the restaurants biggest fans.

The Living Cafe’s retail section offers a display case is packed with baked goods. To name just a few, you will find gingersnap cookies,
dairy free double chocolate cake, paleo mudpies, quinoa carrot cake, lemon blueberry muffins, chocolate zucchini loaf, banana bread, vegan cupcakes and scones.

The freezer case contains an array of gluten-free baked goods including baguettes, hamburger buns, quinoa bread, cinnamon raisin bread, pumpkin cranberry rosemary bread, chia flax bread and vegan pizza shells.

In the future Kroetsch would love to see everything that they use in the kitchen available in their retail section. Soon she will be introducing celiac safe bulk bins.

Living Cafe is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a goal to expand the dinner menu and an application for a liquor license in the works, it goes without saying that business is going to continue to climb. Whether you have special dietary needs or not, this is a wonderful place to dine and feel good about what you eat.

Living Cafe
240-12240 Second Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L8
Telephone 604-370-5483
www.livingcafe.ca

Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Cottage Comfort on the Pier

One would think that Jim van der Tas, managing partner of the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant, has lived in Steveston his entire life based on his passion for and commitment to the village, yet he and his family moved here in 2004. In a short time he has planted many roots and he may just be one of the busiest men in Steveston.

Not only is Jim van der Tas devoted to his business and his family; he also actively gives back to the village as he sits on three Steveston board of directors. He feels that Steveston is the jewel of Richmond, if not the Lower Mainland, and is committed to promoting all that the area has to offer.

Jim van der Tas and his wife Janet own the Blue Canoe in partnership with Janet’s brother. Jim van der Tas says the decision to open their business “happened almost by accident.”  While visiting Steveston with a friend they walked along the pier to take in the view. They discussed the area’s potential and his friend joked that Jim van der Tas should buy a restaurant  (stemming from his background as director of food & beverage at Vancouver’s Marriott Renaissance). This conversation quickly turned into reality when the van der Tas’ made an offer to purchase two former Steveston businesses, which they renovated into one larger space to create Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant.

There was an immediate sense that something fresh and fun was going on when Blue Canoe’s logo appeared featuring an Adirondack chair perched beside the water’s edge, and a full-scale lifeguard’s chair appeared at the entrance to the business. The concept was to create a cottage style atmosphere. “It’s rustic and beautiful, like kicking back at a lakeside cottage,” says Jim van der Tas.  The restaurant’s name celebrates the blue ocean and is also a tribute to seafood that is featured prominently on the menu.

What is the history behind the rustic canoe that is suspended from the dining room ceiling? Jim van der Tas put feelers out to find the perfect canoe and discovered this one, circa 1954, which had been stored inside a barn in Quebec. It was stripped, waxed, and true to Jim van der Tas’ sense of humour, he installed two small signs indicating, “this canoe is blue” when people began to question its natural colour.

The canoe is a focal point, along with many special touches including the wood sided walls, mirrors that look like window panes, a cozy gas fireplace framed by river rock, and a selection of Langley artist Jill Hall’s cottage style furniture and decor throughout the restaurant. Add in the fun signage throughout, including the amusing outdoor directional sign, cozy throws on the backs of patio chairs, charming outdoor lighting along with patio heaters which, if you close your eyes, can mimic sitting by a campfire, mix in the ocean air and fishing boats bobbing at the dock, and you feel like you are on a relaxing seaside vacation.

Every so often Jim van der Tas pinches himself to make sure he is not dreaming that this spectacular location is his ‘office.’ He is grateful for the countless friendships he has made in the five years since Blue Canoe has been in operation (June 8, 2008 was the official opening date).

The restaurant offers something for everyone, both young and old, in a casual and cozy environment that is known for its unique selection of beer and wine, along with chef Danilo Ibarra’s fresh local cuisine.

Chef Ibarra works closely with Jim van der Tas on menu development. Jim van der Tas says the menu is always evolving to keep the dining experience fresh and exciting, as well to engage the customers and the staff, and over time has shone the spotlight more heavily on seafood. A small sample of the current offerings include a selection of burgers (a cottage experience is not complete without this staple) along with local, wild, line caught salmon (wrapped in corn husk, summer succotash, preserved lemon cream), West Coast salmon chowder (salmon, corn, sweet potato, bacon), heirloom tomato and strawberry salad (burrata cheese, D-Original Sausage Haus spek, mustard greens, honey balsamic vinaigrette) and a delicious dessert menu including a heavenly lemon meringue pie.

Blue Canoe is proud to buy from local fishers (Organic Ocean) and farmers. Jim van der Tas is very excited about the relationship the restaurant has formed with local farmers that have been growing seasonal produce for Blue Canoe including lettuce, potatoes, berries, mustard greens, and herbs. Jim van der Tas says he would take great pleasure in owning a farm. In his dream he would grow his own crops to use in Blue Canoe’s kitchen although he laughs and says his wife won’t allow this idea to transpire.

In the early years of the business Jim van der Tas was at the restaurant virtually every day, however over time he has is now able to take well-deserved days off. Jim van der Tas describes his front-end role as similar to that of an old-fashioned maître d’. His amicable nature is suited for this role as he effortlessly circulates and is attentive to the well being of the customers and the staff. Janet van der Tas, a certified general accountant, is equally busy with her work behind the scenes managing the accounting. Jim van der Tas is full of praise for the Blue Canoe’s staff, which he describes as one big happy family. During the busy summer season the restaurant employees a staff of seventy. He is also deeply grateful to the loyal customers, many have supported Blue Canoe since it first opened.

The winter months allow Jim van der Tas some free time to coach his sons’ Richmond Minor hockey teams. Ben (8) and Aiden (10) thoroughly enjoy the family business and Jim van der Tas would be pleased if they elect to work at Blue Canoe when they are older. The boys have already expressed interest and have inherited their mother and father’s charm and social nature.

Running one of Steveston’s most successful restaurants keeps Jim van der Tas extremely busy yet he finds time to volunteer on three Steveston not-for-profit organization boards. He is the President of the Steveston Merchants Association, which he founded with Vince Morlet (owner of Tapenade Bistro) in 2009, as they believed a voice for Steveston businesses was sorely lacking and felt work had to be done to attract more people to visit the village. In addition, Jim van der Tas is the co-chair of the Steveston 20/20 group that meets to discuss current issues and the long-term vision for the village as we move towards the year 2020. Finally, Jim van der Tas also sits on the Gulf of Georgia Cannery’s board. Janet van der Tas is also active in the community with her sons’ school and sports.

“Steveston has so much potential to be an even better and more vibrant community. I want to help it grow in a respectful, carefully thought out manner for generations to enjoy its beauty and history,” says Jim van der Tas. When we see how the couple has made Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant a local landmark, and the creative ideas that Jim van der Tas devotedly offers the village, it is easy to believe his vision will come to fruition.

Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant 140-3866 Bayview Street Richmond BC V7E 4R7  Telephone 604-275-7811 www.bluecanoerestaurant.com