Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Third Eye Martial Arts Studio

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Empowerment Through Self-Defence

It was “a lightning bolt moment” the first time Mehdi Saadati saw his uncle Master Ebrahim Saadati compete in Taekwondo. Mehdi was seven years old at the time and was instantly hooked; he knew he wanted to get involved in martial arts.

Third Eye Martial Arts Dunbar Master Erahim SaadatiMaster Saadati also began Taekwondo when he was seven. He earned his black belt when he was 12 years old. In 1989, he became a member of the Iranian National A Team and won first place at the International Fajr tournament. He continued to compete at national and international championships and in 1992 won a gold medal at the World Military Championships. In 1994 he won a silver medal at the Asian Games. In 1998 he became the Canadian champion in the welterweight division in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Taekwondo is the second most popular sport in the world (soccer is number one). Taekwondo is well loved because it teaches discipline while building self-confidence and both physical and mental strength. Mehdi points out how empowered students feel when they learn self-defence skills.

Mehdi moved with his family from Tehran to Vancouver in 1993. Master Saadati immigrated two years later. He started teaching Taekwondo at Kerrisdale and Sunset Community Centres in 2000 after he retired from competing. In 2011 the pair joined forces to work together at Third Eye Martial Arts Studio.

Master Saadati is the owner and head master and Mehdi is the general manager and head instructor. He describes Dunbar as “the jewel of the city.” What stands out for him is the strong sense of community; he really enjoys running into students and their families on the street. Although he doesn’t live in Dunbar currently, he has his eye on a condominium that would lighten his commute to a matter of minutes.

The first Third Eye Martial Arts Studio opened at West 8th Avenue (near Hemlock Street) and the large 5,000 square foot space serves as company headquarters. The Dunbar studio opened in 2013.

IMG_6393The smaller Dunbar space is busy seven days a week with over 300 students registered. Youth classes can accommodate 20 students and are taught by three instructors. Adult classes take place weekday evenings and weekends. All classes are co-ed although the demographic is slanted slightly higher towards female students for both kids and adult classes.

“Taekwondo is beneficial for everybody. It is not age dependent. It is something everyone can try.” Mehdi Saadati

Students from ages 3 to 72 attend classes at the Dunbar location as they work their way up from white belt through the rainbow of colours (yellow, green, blue, red) to reach black belt status.

Third Eye Martial Arts Dunbar Mehdi SaadatiMehdi says it’s never too late to begin this sport. He shares the story of a 70-year-old student who earned her black belt; she began at age 66. With admiration in his voice and a big smile he says, “She is the most tenacious woman I have ever met.”

As general manager, Mehdi manages the studios and ensures classes run smoothly. He specializes in teaching kids with special needs and autism; private classes are offered for low functioning students.

“The magic that happens when you make a connection is the most gratifying thing in the world.” Mehdi Saadati

If your child is looking for a kicking good birthday party consider Third Eye’s West 8th location. This is a great chance to introduce a group of kids to martial arts and you don’t have to be a member. Mehdi says many Dunbar families take advantage of these fun parties.

Another popular service is Third Eye’s after school program (also held at the West 8th studio). Instead of leaving your child with a babysitter or staying home alone, he or she will be picked up from school in one of Third Eye’s van and transported to the studio for Taekwondo training, homework and snack time. Parents pick their kids up before dinner.

Bullying is a subject close to Mehdi’s heart. He experienced being bullied as a child and says it can happen to anyone. Master Saadati, Mehdi and the other instructors are committed to children’s safety and security. Third Eye hosts a bully prevention program twice annually for all ages.

When a child is bullied Mehdi says, “It can feel like a dead end road.”

Third Eye’s workshop can also help parents identify the signs that aren’t always apparent. There is a physical aspect to the program run by three to four instructors and Master Saadati. Follow Third Eye Martial Arts Studio on social media (Facebook and Instagram) or refer to their website for further details.

Third Eye Martial Arts 4256 Dunbar StIf Taekwondo sounds like the sport for you or your child, consider Third Eye Martial Arts Studio’s special winter offer. From now until mid-March receive a one-month trial class and a free uniform for $49.95. You never know, your child may become hooked just like Master Saadati and Mehdi!

Third Eye Martial Arts Studio
4256 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2E9
Telephone 604-428-4256

Crepe & Cafe

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Customers Come First for New Owner

Crepe Cafe Dunbar 3500 w41stDiljeet Taheem is the proud new owner of Crepe & Café located at the corner of West 41st Avenue and Collingwood Street. He took over the established business last June and is quickly winning over customers.

Originally from Delhi, Diljeet followed his brother to Vancouver in 1990. He holds a Masters degree in Economics in addition to a diploma in Microcomputer Business Applications. He worked at the Vancouver School Board for a number of years and currently owns a design, printing and sign making company called Jasonbel Creations Inc. in addition to operating Crepe & Café.

His passion for cooking began at an early age. Diljeet explains, “I liked to watch my mother preparing food.”

Crepe Cafe Dunbar Diljeet Parminder TaheemDiljeet had been looking to purchase a coffee shop for two years when he discovered Crepe & Café was for sale and felt it was a perfect fit. Diljeet wasn’t looking for a formal dining experience and knew a franchise would not suit him. He was determined to operate an independent business where he could apply his creativity and make the business his own.

Cleanliness is high on this owner’s list of priorities so he started by giving the restaurant a full makeover. All of the counters were replaced and the floor was refinished. Tiffany-style pendant lights hang over counter and a number of chandeliers are mounted throughout the dining area. A black industrial open ceiling is balanced with white walls and artwork. He also replaced all of the furniture. Diljeet smiles when he reports a little boy commented on the comfortable new chairs.

Not being French or having run a restaurant did not deter the new business owner. The former owners trained him. He says, “I learnt from them but I did not stop.” He mentions his chef friends also shared their knowledge. Diljeet took to the challenge in an academic fashion and threw himself into researching French cuisine. He makes frequent references to the importance of technique.

“Cooking techniques are the same around the world with minor variations.” Diljeet Taheem

When it comes to crepes, Diljeet drew from his experience with the dosa, a type of pancake commonly made in southern India, which share similarities.

Crepe Cafe Dunbar interiorHis wife Parminder works alongside him in the kitchen; she prepares the crepes while Diljeet brews coffee and bakes.

Diljeet hasn’t changed the menu but he has improved it. He has added an organic salad to the crepe plate without increasing the price. He says, “I want to make sure my customers receive quality and value.”

On the menu you will find savoury crepes known as galette made with buckwheat flour. A number of fillings are available including eggs with Black Forest ham and Swiss cheese, smoked salmon with organic spinach and Swiss cheese, and chicken with red onion, tomato and Swiss cheese.

Sweet crepes include lemon and sugar, Nutella and banana, sugar with butter and cinnamon, and an assortment of jam fillings. Gluten-free crepes are also offered. Grilled sandwiches and wraps are very popular with the lunchtime crowd, and the fresh baked goods (including almond cookies and croissants) are a perfect accompaniment to enjoy with a variety of organic coffees (latte, cappuccino, espresso, Americano), organic teas (Diljeet says he makes an excellent chai latte), and other hot comfort drinks (hot chocolate and steamed milk).

When Diljeet sets himself a goal he won’t stop until he masters it. For example, he wanted to improve the coffee sold at Crepe & Café. He says, “I used my research skills to learn everything there is to know about coffee.” From using quality beans to the art of grinding, pressing and percolation, he says, “I technically fixed the coffee brewing process and have passed this knowledge on to my staff. The quality has to be there for the price.”

Diljeet strives for a personal experience. He says, “I want it to be like a home.”

Honest opinions are of utmost importance to Diljeet; he makes a point of personally serving new customers and asking how they enjoyed their meal. “My goal is to have them respond with a wow,” Diljeet says. One of his proudest moments to date was when he asked for feedback from a French couple – they were so impressed with their experience they asked Diljeet if he has spent time in France (he hasn’t).

Treating his customers with respect and courtesy comes as second nature to Diljeet. He likes to pull back customer’s chairs and is always happy to assist senior customers by holding the door.

When asked what he is finding most satisfying about operating Crepe & Cafe, Diljeet replies without hesitating, “What I am learning and using in my business. Knowing the café is improving and that people like the changes is very satisfying to me.”

Crepé & Cafe
3500 W 41st Avenue
Vancouver BC V6N 3E6
Telephone 604-566-9787

Dunbar Painting

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Comes Through With Flying Colours.Dunbar-Painting-interior

Stroll through Dunbar and on most blocks you will notice beautifully painted heritage homes. Dunbar Painting is responsible for having lovingly and professionally painted many of these character houses in one of Vancouver’s most coveted neighbourhoods.

Coby Cohodas, the charismatic owner of Dunbar Painting, grew up in Dunbar and he and his wife continue to live in the neighbourhood. Back in 2009, while working towards his B.A. degree at UBC he took a summer painting job, which unintentionally led him on his career path. Coby says, “I have an all or nothing mentality and proceeded to launch my own business while still attending school.”

Dunbar Painting is growing by leaps and bounds.

Coby-Cohodas-Dunbar-PaintingThe business started off with Coby and one other painter. Fast-forward to 2017 and this driven entrepreneur is projecting $1.8 million in revenue. During the busiest months he employs as many as thirty painters. This year Coby plans to expand his team from one to three production managers as Dunbar Painting’s client base continues to grow throughout the Lower Mainland.

Dunbar Painting specializes in both interior and exterior residential house painting along with deck refinishing. Older homes are the company’s specialty. The business is also equipped to handle minor carpentry repairs such as shingle replacement, new trim and replacing rotting wood, which is sometimes encountered when painting older homes.

Including “Dunbar” in the company name has proved beneficial due to the prestige associated with this community. Coby explains, “Although I service surrounding neighborhoods, the company’s name has helped garner local recognition, especially when people see the care we take in painting their homes.”

Over the years Coby says, “Business got to a place where I handled sales and production yet I couldn’t see growth.” That is, until he hired Vancouver based business coaches, Breakthrough Academy. He laughs when he explains they approached him through a cold call in 2014. Breakthrough Academy provides online coaching specifically for trades and has helped Coby systemize the business. By implementing new strategies Coby says, “Our customers’ experience has been greatly enhanced.” He notes since he began working with the coaches his business has doubled in revenue.

“Dunbar Painting is focused on core values. We care about what we do.” Coby Cohodas

From the first consultation with a homeowner until the job is complete, Dunbar Painting’s goal is to deliver an outstanding experience that will have clients proudly referring the company to their friends.

Coby explains, “With every paint job, our goal is to create lifetime customers, so we take every step required to ensure you are happy throughout the painting process.” “We only use high end products from Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore,” he adds.

Coby’s business ethics are as strong as his commitment to offering a top-notch job and his clients attest to Dunbar Painting coming through with flying colours.

Glowing testimonials abound on the company’s website.

Dunbar-Painting-managersHomeowner Rebecca Rauscher (whose home is pictured in the photos accompanying this story) shares her positive experience with this local business. She says, “Your team was respectful, kind and a joy to have around. I also love that they cleaned up after themselves. You can hardly tell that they were
here (besides the transformation of my home!) I have nothing but positive things to say about Dunbar Painting.”

While some people feel comfortable selecting paint colours others feel out of their element. Clients can hire a Benjamin Moore colour consultant, or Dunbar Painting recommends hiring consultant Debra Thompson who digitally paints a photograph of your house to show you a number of possible looks.

People who own heritage homes really care about their houses.” Coby Cohodas

If your home happens to fall under the heritage register you may be eligible to apply for Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s “True Colours” program. Homeowners can receive up to a $1,000 cash grant and complimentary paint from Benjamin Moore to restore the exterior colours to those of the original heritage building. Dunbar Painting is on the True Colours approved paint contractor list.

Spring is just around the bend. If you are looking to freshen up the interior or exterior of your house contact the experts at Dunbar Painting. Mention this Dunbar Life story and Coby will offer a 10% discount on interior painting valid until April 2017.

Dunbar Painting
3891 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2E1
Telephone: 604-788-3382


Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

mexicali-burrito-dunbar-life-palla-mediaA Taste of Mexico on Dunbar

If you are craving Mexican food, Mexicali is the place to visit for a casual meal. Lee Quang’s customers fondly refer to him as Señor Lee, and he is Dunbar’s purveyor of Californian style Mexican food.

Mexicali has been located in Dunbar for 12 years. Prior to that it was situated on Arbutus Street for 12 years before being destroyed by a fire. Quang was determined to find another West Side location to keep his loyal customers happy and knew he had hit the jackpot when he found Mexicali’s current home.

mexicali-lee-quang-dunbar-life-palla-mediaQuang arrived in Canada from Vietnam in 1988. He learned the art of cooking Mexican food when he worked in the kitchen at Las Margaritas restaurant on West 4th Avenue. This style of cooking is far from his native Vietnamese cuisine but he learned on the job. He has words of praise for the original owners of Las Margaritas who not only trained him but also were extremely supportive when he ventured out on his own. He says, “They became like family and taught me a lot.”

The small restaurant’s décor spotlights Mexicali’s logo (a cartoon chili pepper donning a sombrero) painted on the back wall. In addition, a large mural wraps around the restaurant to create the atmosphere of being on a tropical beach at sunset with palm trees swaying in the warm breeze. Background music, Tejano style, plays over the sound system and gets toes tapping as you dine.

Mexicali is known for its large portions and very reasonable prices.

What is Quang’s secret? Customers order their meal at the counter, pay, and the food is delivered to the table. There are three kitchen staff, including Quang who must have a carbon copy of himself, because he is also out on the floor serving; it is almost as if he is a one-man show and he says this assists in keeping his costs down. Remarkably, he makes it look easy. He smiles and agrees but humbly adds that it is thanks to many of his regular customers who know the menu inside out, which simplifies his job.

He mentions that the community is very loyal, from families with young children to teenagers and adults; people are drawn to the tasty and filling meals. Like clockwork, after he mentions the support of students, a troop of St. George’s students files in to place their lunchtime order before heading back to class.

What do they keep coming back for? Diners are drawn to his quality ingredients and recipes, which are made as low fat as possible. While Mexican food can be spicy, Mexicali’s dishes are made to be on the mild side, although if you request spicy they are happy to turn up the heat!

A number of dietary requirements can be accommodated, from vegetarian to gluten free, nut free, low sodium and low fat. MSG is not found in any of the kitchen’s products and the cooks avoid preservatives to their greatest ability.

Freshness is the name of the game at Mexicali. Quang likes to shop locally and purchases much of his produce at Dunbar Produce. He points out the local merchants are his friends.

The menu includes quesadillas and other snacks (tacos, Redondo rollups) and appetizers (nachos, guacamole, chips and salsa, soups and salads). Entrees feature burritos, chile relleno, enchiladas, tamales, arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), chile con carne and vegetarian chili.

mexicali-4424-dunbar-life-palla-mediaMenu standouts are the lunchtime specials, which offer unbelievable value. Quang indicates the teenage crowd is drawn to these specials because they include Mexi fries and a beverage. A favourite is the beef Redondo rollup – a grilled tortilla filled with ground beef, spices, lettuce, cheese, salsa and sour cream. The other crowd-pleasing specials are the soft or crunchy (your choice) beef tacos and the enchilada with rice and a choice of refried or black beans.

Don’t forget to try the housemade salsa, Quang is extremely proud of it.

Mexicali is not a licensed restaurant therefore expect a virgin margarita made with pure fruits and juices. The “slighty slushy Mexican limonada” is another popular beverage.

This busy restaurant owner has a young family (two daughters), works seven days a week and rarely takes holidays, yet he keeps smiling. He loves what he does for a living and it shows.

mexicali-4424-dunbar-palla-mediaWhat is the most rewarding part of owning and operating his business? Quang is quick to point out it is his customers. He says, “They are very nice and supportive.” He mentions that his customers come from all over to dine at his establishment and while some have moved away from the area they return for a meal at Mexicali, which he appreciates.

Running a restaurant is not an easy job. The hours are long; the rising cost of food makes keeping menu prices affordable a challenge and competition can be fierce. Quang has obviously found the magic formula – he is still smiling and relaxed after 24 years of running his own business!

Bring in this Dunbar Life article between November 15 through January 15 (offer valid from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.) and receive a 20% discount on dine in orders.

4424 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2G5
Telephone 604-731-6517

The Dos and Dont’s of Writing the Best University Admissions Essays

Monday, December 5th, 2016

By Bryan Ide, Education Directory KEY Admissions Strategy & Learning Enrichment

Before you submit your US university applications, ask yourself if you are truly happy with your essays. Do they capture the reader’s attention? Do they articulate your compelling and interesting story? And most importantly, do they make you stand out? To help you answer these questions, here are some important dos and don’ts to writing outstanding university admissions essays.

Do be genuine and passionate
The number one rule to writing a great personal statement is to be yourself. Think of the essay as a fun exercise where you get to write about what you are passionate and to show your real self. When you focus on something that is genuinely you, you’re much more likely to write a unique personal essay.

Don’t be opportunistic
Be careful if you write about the sick relative in the hospital or all the hardships you have faced in life in order to gain the sympathy of the reader. That doesn’t work. Also, if you talk about saving the environment you but your application doesn’t show that you even are involved with your school’s environmental club, you will look opportunistic. In other words, don’t write what you think will appeal to the reader. Rather, stay true to yourself.

Do connect with your reader quickly
As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous articles, one exercise that I do with my students I call the two-sentence rule where I read the first two sentences of their essays. If my students haven’t caught my attention, they need to rewrite their essays. Remember that admissions officers are going through your application so quickly that you need to be able to catch their attention as soon as possible. Also, the more effective essays use humour, wit, and self-deprecation to connect with the reader.

Don’t be clichéd
I noted in a previous article that one of the common themes I saw as an interviewer for Cornell University went something like this: the applicant moved to Canada from China a few years ago not knowing any English and not having any friends. Through perseverance and determination he overcame the language barrier and fully integrated himself into Canadian society. If your essays sound very similar, then I can guarantee you that many other applicants will have written the exact same essay. So, it’s important not to be clichéd and write something that many others will also have written.

Do show how you think differently
One effective way to stand out among the crowd is to show how you think differently. Take for example my own essay that I wrote when I applied to Cornell University. My topic was McDonald’s, yes McDonald’s fast food restaurant! For one week I went to McDonald’s every day and sat there watching people. I noticed certain things and particular patterns. For example, the average time it took for someone to enter, eat, and leave was about seven minutes. Also, do you know why the seats at McDonald’s are so hard and uncomfortable? It’s so that McDonald’s can cycle more customers through at a faster rate thereby increasing profits. Writing about my observations at McDonald’s showed how I think differently about something which most people wouldn’t even think or notice.

Don’t write fiction
A couple of years ago, I reviewed the essays from a couple of students from one of Vancouver’s top private schools. To my shock, the students had written fictional stories! I guess they thought that writing fiction was their way of being creative. However, admissions officers aren’t interested in reading about things that never happened. Rather, they want to get to know the real you, so how are they supposed to do that by reading a fictional story?

As you strive to write the best essay you can, remember these helpful hints. And always stay true to yourself. You’ll find that it’ll make writing your essay so much easier and so much more pleasant.

Pure Integrative Pharmacy

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016


“A Personal Approach to Wellness”

Entering Pure Integrative Pharmacy is like stepping back to a simpler time. The staff greet customers with a warm welcome when they enter the small pharmacy, which specializes in dispensing medication along with the sale of high quality vitamins and nutritional supplements.

Kal Rahimi, the charismatic owner, operator, and pharmacy manager of Dunbar’s Pure Pharmacy says, “The company’s vision is to provide traditional pharmacy services while offering alternative solutions to our clients.”

Pure Pharmacy focuses on a holistic approach to health and wellness by providing services and products of the highest quality.

In 1999, Pure Pharmacy’s CEO Bob Mehr and his pharmacist wife, Mahtab, established their first location in Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island. Today the business has expanded to eight locations in Metro Vancouver and continues to grow.

pure_pharmacy_kal_dunbar_life_palla_mediaRahimi graduated from UBC’s pharmacy program in 2011. He grew up in Burnaby and was not very familiar with the Dunbar neighbourhood until he lived in residence at UBC. Having had an opportunity to spend time here he realized it was a very special and unique area of town. He was also aware that Dunbar residents take an active interest in their health. He thought it would be the perfect area to establish a Pure Pharmacy and opened the store in 2013.

Rahimi believes community pharmacists are highly trained and well positioned primary health care providers who can ease the burden on our publicly funded health care system by playing a more proactive role in the health and wellness of their patients.

He uses the example of a hospital triage to explain the personal service his pharmacy provides. On a daily basis, dozens of patients visit Pure Pharmacy to seek treatment for minor illnesses or to simply get advice on their health and wellness related concerns.

“My goal is to not only recommend a remedy to alleviate the bothersome symptom, but also to work with my patients to address the underlying cause of that symptom.” Kal Rahimi

That is what sets Pure Pharmacy apart from other retail pharmacies. For cases that are not within their scope of practice, or a customer would benefit from another practitioner’s inter-vention, Pure’s pharmacists use a systematic approach to ensure a referral is made to the general practitioner or other health care providers such as naturopaths, chiropractors, or dietitians if necessary.

pure_pharmacy_dunbar_life_testingHe truly cares about his clients’ overall health profile and is happy to discuss the importance of exercise, diet and nutritional supplements. Rahimi explains that a symptom is a mental or physical feature felt by a patient and is a manifestation of an underlying condition or disease state. He adds, “In some cases medications simply alleviate, mask, or temporarily make a symptom go away without addressing the underlying cause.” He states that this is particularly true in the case of digestive disorders, autoimmune issues, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, chronic pain, and mood disorders to name a few.

Rahimi provides an example of a patient experiencing recurrent and painful muscle spasms and the functional medicine approach he uses to devise a therapeutic plan. He acknowledges that while a prescription medication may be necessary in the short term, it does not address the underlying cause, which may stem from magnesium deficiency. In this case, Rahimi discusses whether the patient’s diet includes sufficient green vegetables and assesses the amount of coffee, alcohol, and carbonated beverages they consume as they can play a part in depleting magnesium. He also assesses the patient’s current medications. He mentions some prescription medications can cause micronutrient deficiencies and if we fail to supplement, these deficiencies may lead to certain symptoms.

In addition to filling prescriptions, the pharmacy also offers injections, blister packaging and lab tests for vitamin D and hormone levels.

There are only a handful of Vancouver pharmacies that offer compounding, which is the art and science of preparing customized medication for patients. Today, the vast majority of medications are mass-produced by pharmaceutical drug companies. A compounding pharmacist is trained to compose alternate dosages, which may come in other forms such as creams, caplets and suspensions, and to create specialized compounds for pediatric and veterinary patients. It is even possible to combine multiple medications into a single dose.

This service is particularly helpful when a medication is prescribed but the dosage is not commonly available. Instead of going through the headache of cutting up a tablet, Rahimi and his team of pharmacists can compound the exact dosage.

Rahimi is genuinely humble when he mentions people return on a daily basis to say thank you. He says, “It is a very satisfying part of my job. That’s what I feed off. It makes my day and keeps me going.”

pure_pharmacy_dunbar_life_exteriorThe sharing of knowledge is important to Rahimi. He has hosted weight loss presentations at the Dunbar Community Centre and blood pressure clinics at Dunbar Village Business Association events.

The busy pharmacist commutes from Coquitlam where he lives with his wife and one year old daughter. When not working, the couple can often be found discovering new hiking trails with their baby accompanying them in a back carrier.

Rahimi is excited to announce that the pharmacy will be relocating on September 30th. Have no fear as this popular pharmacy, with the well-liked Rahimi at the helm, will remain in the neighbourhood, conveniently situated next door to Preventum medical clinic at West 16th and Dunbar Street.

Pure Integrative Pharmacy
4198 Dunbar Street
New address effective September 30: 3228 Dunbar Street
Telephone 604-732-3010

The Shop Hair and Esthetics in Dunbar

Monday, September 12th, 2016


“Dunbar’s Downtown-Style Hair and Esthetics Salon”

Jag Sangara is the vivacious and enterprising owner of The Shop Hair and Esthetics. She confesses that when she wants something she goes after it at full throttle. When she opened The Shop it did not faze her that she had no business experience, she simply learnt everything there was to know about running a small business and has proven to be a very astute businessperson.

the_shop_salon_jag__sangara_dunbar_life_palla_mediaSangara has three children who are now adults. When they were young she made the choice to be a stay at home mother and put her hair styling career on hold. In 2008 she was living in the Dunbar area and decided the time had come to open a downtown-style hair salon, which she felt the area was lacking. “It’s been great going from being a stay at home mom to running my own business,” she says.

With a roster of six stylists and one esthetician, The Shop’s clients include toddlers through to Sangara’s 93-year-old father. While she no longer cuts hair she makes an exception for her dad.

Over time Sangara shifted from cutting hair to specializing in her passion for anti-frizz smoothing treatments. She has become an expert in treating frizzy hair and her clients are hooked on getting up to three months of easy to style locks with a sleek and radiant shine.

She acquired her knowledge while on a trip to Los Angeles with her daughter who happens to have frizzy hair and was seeking a solution. She tried it and found having frizz-free hair liberating. Subsequently, Sangara received her certification in L.A. to use this specially formulated anti-frizz semi-permanent product and has provided education and training to many stylists across Canada.

What are the current hair trends? She mentions younger women are looking for simple, low maintenance cuts. They come in with long hair and have it cut to easy to manage lengths. Beachy waves continue to be a popular styling choice.

“We find people don’t want to spend as much time on their hair anymore.” Jag Sangara

When it comes to colour, the focus is also on a natural look. Ombré continues to be in fashion. This colouring method gives hair the look of having spent time in the sun (think surfer girl hair) as hair transitions from shades of brown to blonde. Balayage, a distant cousin to ombré, is also frequently requested. This technique looks like sun-kissed highlights throughout the hair. The transition is more natural and involves less maintenance than ombré.

the_shop_salon_shampoo_dunbar_life_palla_mediaWhen asked what lies ahead in hair trends Sangara notes she recently read about an interesting technique called hand-pressed colour which is so new it isn’t being offered at salons yet. It involves painting highlights onto a sheet of plexiglass, then the colourist uses a putty knife to smear the shades into the strands resulting in multi-dimensional colour.

In addition to haircuts and colour, a range of esthetic services from makeup application to hair removal are offered. Although The Shop is closed on Sunday and Monday they will extend business hours, earlier or later if needed to accommodate clients’ schedules.

Sangara is excited to announce a new eyelash service is now available at The Shop. At the end of July she went to L.A. for training in the Yumi Keratin Lash Lift. She was required to perform the treatment on models in order to be certified. Sangara, her daughter and niece have all had the treatment and love it. She says, “No mascara, use of an eyelash curler or lash extensions is required. Best of all, we wake up in the morning with natural looking curled lashes.”

Clients come from all over the city and their client base includes an equal number of women and men. We all know how hard it is to let go of a good stylist once making that connection. Sangara mentions that clients who have moved away from the neighbourhood will return for a hair appointment.

A level of trust develops in a relationship between a client and stylist that stems from being in close contact, and assisting with personal choices that will affect your daily look. She says, “Clients feel comfortable opening up to us because we open up to them, while maintaining a professional relationship.”

Sangara laughs when she says one client called her a “hairapist” which is a great description of the additional role trusted stylists serve.

Community involvement is important to The Shop’s team. They enjoy participating in Dunbar Village Business Association’s events. Sangara says, “Halloween is the best time around here.” Every other year they identify a charity and throw themselves behind it one hundred per cent. Past accomplishments include assisting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and raising $35,000 in donations for Free The Children.

the_shop_salon_4446_dunbar_life_palla_mediaOn a personal level, Sangara recently participated in the Tough Mudder event at Whistler. She encouraged her children to join her in this gruelling 10 to 12 mile mud and obstacle course designed to drag you out of your comfort zone by testing your physical strength, stamina, and mental grit.

She says it is one of the hardest things she has ever done. Sangara describes the experience as “challenging yourself to overcome your fears by running, climbing 10 foot walls and crawling under barbed wire.” It took her four hours to complete and she did not train for it. The same thing happened a few years ago when she signed up for the Sun Run completely untrained and completed the 10 km run.

She reiterates that when she sets her mind to something she goes for it. The success of her busy hair salon is a shining example of Sangara’s drive to make things happen; she took a running start and shot off full speed ahead.

The Shop Hair and Esthetics
4446 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2G5
Telephone: 604-736-7467

Save-On-Foods Dunbar

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Save-on-foods-dunbar-checkout-palla-mediaA flurry of activity took place for six weeks to prepare for the May 14 grand opening of Save-On-Foods new location on West 41 Avenue. Two days prior to the big day, store manager Randy Nerling took time to discuss the impressive renovations and what the neighbourhood can expect from the new grocery store.

The transformation of the former IGA began at the end of March. At the same time Overwaitea Food Group, owned by Jim Pattison, purchased two other Vancouver IGAs on the east side, which have also been converted to Save-On-Food stores.

“There’s a buzz in the neighbourhood. I believe this store will be well received.” Randy Nerling

Save-on-foods-dunbar-Randy-Nerling-palla-mediaContractors, Save-On-Food’s head office support team and regional specialists worked around the clock to reach the mid-May opening goal. In that time the shop received an exterior and interior facelift consisting of painting, lighting, flooring, fixtures and refurbishing refrigeration equipment.

Nerling laughs when he reports, “It was looking so good three days prior to opening that one customer entered the store and was trying to shop until he realized he was surrounded by people in construction hats.”

In addition to the physical changes a key part of the time was used to transition the former IGA staff who were automatically transferred over if they wished to stay. New systems, programs and cash registers needed to be learnt. The majority of former employees and management joined Save-On-Foods and additional new staff were recruited to round out the team.

Nerling comments, “They possess an abundance of experience and knowledge which they offer the company.”

Save-on-foods-dunbar-1-palla-mediaThe opening is exciting for Save-On-Foods fans as the only other location in the area is at UBC. What can customers expect to find at this new store? While the square footage is smaller than a regular Save-On-Foods, the design team managed to accommodate an extra aisle to ensure that some of the best-loved products would find their way to the shelves. The house label, Western Family is showcased alongside popular brand name favourites, offering added value while keeping exceptional quality to its name. Darrell’s Deals are hand picked weekly by Save-On-Foods’ president and offer impressive savings on popular products.

A new feature called “six mix” specialty soda pop allows customers to mix and match a customized six-pack.

A premium floral section features high quality fresh cut bouquets and single stem flowers for custom-made designs. A deli and meat counter along with seafood selections are showcased with a butcher on hand to assist in choosing what you would like for dinner that night. With plans to expand its offering, phase two of the renovation includes a bakery and a restaurant style section featuring hot foods.

Save-on-foods-dunbar-fresh-palla-mediaBeing a 100 per cent locally owned company distinguishes Save-On-Foods from other grocery stores. Since its early beginnings in 1915 the company has taken pride in partnering with local producers including Alberta beef farmers and produce farmers as close by as Delta. When in season Save-On-Foods features and promotes these producers through signage and campaigns. ‘In store everyday’ is the shop local display that features products from all over our province.

The Dunbar store offers a unique service called Click and Connect. This online shopping program allows shoppers to pay from the comfort of their smart phone or computer. Pull up in the parking lot and the purchase will be delivered directly to your car at an arranged time.

Giving back to the community is a large part of Save-On-Foods mandate. Schools, sports teams, community events, clubs and the biggest benefactor, B.C. Children’s Hospital, are all generously assisted by the company.
Fundraising to assist those affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires has been high on the list of priorities. Nerling says, “Trailer upon trailer has been sent, loaded with food hampers.”

“The heartbeat of the company is to give back. It’s what we do.” Randy Nerling

Giving back also resonates for Nerling on a personal level. He has recently been nominated to sit on the Dunbar Village Business Association’s board of directors and is excited to attend their Annual General Meeting on June 15.

Nerling was hand picked as the new store manager. With 25 years’ experience there is no question that he was the person to oversee the renovation and transition the former IGA staff into their new roles as Save-On-Foods employees.

He shares a story akin to president Darrell Jones who worked his way up the ladder from bagging groceries as a part-time job in high school. Nerling got his start as a high school student stocking shelves in Nanaimo.

Save-on-foods-dunbar-store-palla-mediaExtremely supportive of its employees, Save-On-Foods recognizes the talented and committed people working for the company by offering management courses, university credited leadership courses and even scholar-ships for team members and their families. He says, “Our people are home grown and have been with the company for a long time.”

Nerling is excited to have made the move from Richmond’s Price Smart (also an Overwaitea affiliate) to Dunbar, which he describes as “a nice little community.”

Welcome to the neighbourhood, Save-On-Foods.

3535 W 41st Avenue
Vancouver BC V6N 3B8
Telephone 604-261-2423

JD’s Barbershop

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

There’s a New Kid in Town

JDs_Barbershop_Judah_Down_Dunbar LifeJudah Down is the man behind the initials JD’s. Down has been a provider of top-notch haircuts, beard trims, hot shaves and superior service for over twenty years.

Dunbar is now part of his growing empire of barbershops that includes two other Vancouver JD’s locations in Gastown and an exclusive members only two-chair shop at The Vancouver Club. An additional shop is in the works for Los Angeles’ L.A. Athletic Club.

Down is easy going, youthful and genuinely charming. Mere days after opening the Dunbar barbershop he was available to take time to sit in the sun on the wooden bench out front of his shop to discuss his excitement about the new location.

JD’s officially opened on May 1, 2016 in the former showroom for The Ivy on Dunbar development currently under construction in the 4200 block of Dunbar Street.

When a friend learned of the newly available and nicely renovated storefront he suggested expanding to Dunbar. With nearby high schools to draw from, in addition to numerous professionals in the area, combined with a fondness for the community where he has lived several times, Down says, “The decision was a no brainer as the neighbourhood is an ideal fit.”
He believes young men are going to be thrilled to discover a barbershop catering to their needs.

JDs_Barbershop_exterior_Dunbar LifeBig plate glass windows sport a JD’s logo. A red and white striped awning is a nod to the traditional barbershop pole. The shop’s interior is very clean and minimalistic. Four chairs are in place with the option to add two more. A striking five by 10 foot commissioned graffiti-style art installation by Sunshine Coast artist Ben Tour complements the space.

Originally from Niagara Falls, when Down was in his early 20s he went on an extended road trip with a group of friends. One of the women needed her hair bleached and he volunteered to give it a whirl. It turned out he had a knack for colouring and a career was born.

JDs_Barbershop_haircut_Dunbar LifeDown trained at Vidal Sassoon in Los Angeles. His talent evolved into a very successful career first as a hair stylist (his first shop was the popular House of Envy in downtown Vancouver) and then as a master barber when he opened his first JD’s Barbershop in Gastown in 2002 followed by an invitation to open JD’s at The Vancouver Club in 2006.

JD’s has earned a reputation for great stylists and terrific haircuts.

Although colour and hair washing services will not be available at the Dunbar shop the stylists will happily cut both men’s and women’s hair of all lengths, in addition to beard trims and shaves.

Down says, “There are no one trick pony haircuts here.” JD’s stylists will do all cuts. JD’s has an in house apprenticeship program to ensure stylists receive the proper training.

Down promises, “A relaxed environment where guys and gals can feel comfortable letting us help them look their best.”

JDs_Barbershop_Interior_Dunbar LifeWhat cut is all the rage? Boys are drawn to the fade. This cut is tapered on the sides and back and is typically done with clippers. The hair is clipped in such a way that it appears to fade into the skin.

JD’s has recently branched into its own product line which includes body wash, shave cream, after-shave, grooming cream and matte pomade. They are made by a chemist in East Vancouver. Quality ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible and feature essential oils and vitamin E.

With three businesses to oversee Down does not cut as many clients’ hair as he once did, as he is busy hopping back and forth between the three shops. In his free time he likes snowboarding, travelling (his most recent getaway was to Panama) and during the summer power boating calls his name.

When asked how people have reacted to JD’s Barbershop opening in Dunbar he replies, “People have come by telling us they love the idea of a new shop.” JD’s has already seen father and son duos popping in for haircuts.

As for reaching his clients, Down is not only a master barber, he is also a master of social media and knows how to effectively get the word out that he has opened a hip downtown-style barbershop in Dunbar Village.

JD’s Barbershop
4345 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2G2
Telephone 778-379-1829

The Cheshire Cheese Inn

Friday, May 20th, 2016

CheshireCheeseInn_Alan_Cassidy_DunbarLife_PallaMediaPurveyor of British Pub Fare

The Cheshire Cheese Inn, fondly known as “The Cheese,” has been a Dunbar fixture for 37 years. The name pays homage to London’s Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which was built in 1666 and has been operating as a pub for 350 years.

Derek Cassidy founded the Dunbar business in 1979. Aware that a large number of fellow British expatriates lived in the district, his dream was to create a cozy pub with a historical feel, complete with low-beamed ceilings, dark wood paneling, a large bar and a combination of booths and tables to gather with friends to raise a glass and enjoy a pub meal.

His son, Alan Cassidy, has been the sole proprietor for 14 years. In addition to his father and himself, four generations of the Cassidy family have been actively involved with the business including Alan Cassidy’s two sons, his brother and his grandfather who worked as a bookkeeper.

CheshireCheeseInn_beer_DunbarLife_PallaMediaAlan Cassidy hails from Liverpool and he is as charming as his Liverpudlian accent. The secret recipe for this restaurant’s longevity is the menu and the cozy atmosphere. Another key ingredient is the warm hospitality offered by the charismatic owner and his staff who he fondly refers to as “a friendly and cheeky bunch.”

“We have wonderful staff.” Cassidy explains, “We put a lot of time into their training and have high expectations of them.”

It appears Cupid is a Cheshire Cheese Inn patron. Cassidy reports that he met his wife and a few of the Cheese staff also met their future spouses while working at the restaurant. In addition to love connections a very loyal customer base has formed. He says, “Some people we serve are the grandchildren of customers my father served 30 years ago.”

CheshireCheeseInn_bar_DunbarLife_PallaMediaCassidy says, “We try to keep to the roots of the old school restaurants.” He explains, “Some of the recipes from the first days are still used today. I think that is why we have stayed around so long.”

“We are proud of the food we put out.” Alan Cassidy

Meals are created from scratch using many local ingredients including line caught seafood and farm fresh veggies. Cassidy says,” If you order chicken pie you know you are getting quality chicken.”

Gluten free options are available and a monthly feature sheet introduces some new selections to tempt the taste buds.

CheshireCheeseInn_pie_DunbarLife_PallaMediaClassic British pub fare includes toad in the hole (pork bangers baked in a Yorkshire pudding served with mashed potatoes and Guinness gravy), fish and chips, Cornish pasties, lamb stew and savoury pies.

Other selections include handcrafted burgers, hand cut fries, sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes. A wide selection of appetizers (chicken wings, calamari, nachos, bruschetta, fish tacos) is offered to whet the appetite or to enjoy with a pint of beer.

Cassidy mentions that micro and import beers are offered on tap and of course Guinness is a staple.

If you are looking for a local brunch spot try The Cheese. Cassidy says, “Brunch is done on a grand scale in Britain.”

CheshireCheeseInn_breakfast_DunbarLife_PallaMediaCassidy recommends coming with a hearty appetite. ‘The Full Monty’ features three eggs, streaky bacon, two pork bangers, ham, baked beans, griddled tomato, mushrooms, crispy hash browns and toast. Pancakes, Cheshire benedicts, French toast and omelettes round out the menu.

It is always exciting for kids to visit a restaurant that exudes a pub-like feel without the rowdy atmosphere. The Cheese offers a kids’ menu and all ages can be found happily dining together. This is a place to gather and celebrate. Sports teams of all ages enjoy getting together for a meal and watching live sport broadcasts.

A rousing game of trivia takes place each Tuesday night. General knowledge questions posed to diners can range from Disney to politics, history and geography. Correct answers are rewarded with a piece of cheese to drop inside a draw bucket for a chance to win gift certificates and prizes. The maximum size team is four players. Cassidy explains,”Trivia Tuesday is lots of fun. This is very popular in Britain. It makes us feel smart when we get one right.”

CheshireCheeseInn_exterior_DunbarLife_PallaMediaMany memories have been created at the restaurant. Cassidy points out, “The Cheese sees happy and sad times from wedding receptions to wakes.”

Some clients say The Cheese hasn’t changed over the years and Cassidy takes this as a compliment. He and his staff take pride in listening to what their customers say and offering up consistently good comfort food in a familiar setting.

Like the historical London pub The Cheshire Cheese Inn is modelled on, this long-term business is proof you don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken.

The Cheshire Cheese Inn
4585 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2G7
Telephone 604-224-2521