Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Dunbar Theatre

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

The West Side’s Only Independent Movie Theatre.

Dunbar Theatre popcorn concession Palla MediaOn the landscape of full time independent movie houses, Dunbar Theatre is literally a sole survivor; it is the last of its kind in the city of Vancouver. There has never been any question that Dunbar is a very special community, and this is confirmed by the neighbourhood’s support of this well loved theatre, which opened in 1935.

Dunbar Theatre archivesDunbar Theatre was built during the Art Deco architectural period by J. Howard Boothe; he ran it until 1941 when Odeon bought the theatre and made it part of a nationwide chain. It closed down between 1987-1988 and then was taken over by Famous Players for approximately ten years. Once again it closed, and this time it seemed destined to be demolished; however, the community adamantly rejected plans for redevelopment.

In February 1998, three university students, including young entrepreneur Ken Charko, the present day owner of Dunbar Theatre, approached the property owner and requested permission to operate the theatre as a summer project. Soon after, Ken leased the building and brought Hollywood magic back to Dunbar as the theatre’s new independent owner. Eight years later he also became the operator of Varsity Theatre on West 10th Avenue, which closed in 2006 due to redevelopment.

Dunbar Theatre exterior Palla MediaKen mentions neighbourhood theatres are in a high-risk category – they are costly to run, leases can be high, theatres are located in prime locations where real estate is highly sought after, and independent theatres are in competition with multiplex theatres, home downloading and Netflix. But this is a happy story, a success story and the Dunbar, as the theatre is fondly referred to, has stood the test of time and this is to be celebrated.

“Dunbar Theatre is a community anchor. Stong’s is the other major anchor and it is these two businesses that help make Dunbar different than other neighbourhoods.”  Ken Charko

The Dunbar shows first run films and Ken personally screens all of them; on average the runs are two to three weeks. He opts for primarily family friendly films, reflective of this community’s movie going audience. Recent showings of Star Wars, La La Land and Lego Batman have been extremely popular.

Dunbar Theatre tickets Palla MediaWestJet Magazine has ranked Dunbar Theatre as one of North America’s five iconic movie theatres describing it as, “Delightfully retro, the theatre shows first-run films and is known for its comfortable, stretch-out seating and secret-recipe popcorn.”

Ah yes, the popcorn. Online reviews invariably mention the legendary buttery popcorn. And just why is this popcorn so darned tasty? Ken says he does not scrimp on quality. He invests in better corn, special salt and salted butter. Ken reveals that “off sales popcorn” is also very popular. People will drop in as they walk by simply because they are craving their favourite treat.

The concession stand is an important revenue generator. Charko jokes when he says, “I am a popcorn salesman.” All of his prices are lower than the chains, from the concession stand to tickets.

Dunbar Life Ken Charko Dunbar TheatreFor Ken, this is a labour of love. It is his passion for films and for this community that drives him to keep running Dunbar Theatre.

He mentions that one of the pay-offs is being able to offer his staff good jobs. Ken estimates Dunbar Theatre has helped put approximately 1,000 people through university.

An astute businessman, he has come up with creative ways to utilize the venue. For instance, did you know it is possible to hold a private birthday party at the Dunbar? A full screen experience blows even the best home media room experience out of the water.

Companies rent the facility as a unique way to host customer appreciation events. Ken has also nurtured a good relationship with local schools. With the theatre’s ability to seat 350 people schools such as St. George’s School and Point Grey Secondary School have screened their own films relevant to the curriculum. One school watched a movie about climate change and brought in the director for a post-show discussion.

Dunbar Theatre seating Palla MediaIf you are a new mother and are craving a romantic comedy or drama, Movies For Mommies is designed for you. Movies run alternating Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. Mothers, their babies up to 18 months old and toddlers too are welcome in this kid-friendly environment.

What’s next for the Dunbar? Ken always has ideas brewing. He is contemplating an audio-visual upgrade and also has plans to replace the seating (have no fear, the spacious distance between seats will remain). He is also considering a VIP section in the theatre’s balcony. Another thought is to mount a film festival in September; he believes the community would embrace this idea.

In his unique position as the only full time independent movie theatre Ken says, “It defines who I am. I’ve got the greatest job.”

Dunbar Theatre
4555 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2G7
Telephone 604-222-2991

Champion of Dunbar Village

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Dunbar Residents’ Association

The Dunbar Residents’ Association (DRA) definitely fits the bill as a Champion of Dunbar Village; it plays an instrumental role in making Dunbar a better place to live. The association promotes community spirit, informs residents about important issues that have an impact on the neighbourhood, and works tirelessly to make sure Dunbar residents’ views are heard at City Hall.

The community can thank a much-needed stop sign for being the catalyst to form the highly valued DRA.

In 1989 a group of neighbours successfully petitioned for the installation of a stop sign at the corner of Crown Street and West 27th Avenue. The group was not active again until 1991 when a developer proposed to build a disproportionately higher density develop-ment in central Dunbar’s business district. It was another victory for the community, thanks to the DRA, after discussions with the developer the project was dropped. Rather than disband, the group decided to carry on as a registered non-profit society and officially became the DRA.

The organization’s mandate is to facilitate meetings regarding proposed changes to the Dunbar neighbourhood. They build community by printing a newsletter with a circulation of 6,000 copies three times a year, which is delivered to every household with the dedicated assistance of 250 volunteers.

Dunbar Residents Association Sonia Wicken Colleen McGuinnessSonia Wicken has been involved with the DRA’s board since the beginning. She is currently the board’s treasurer. “It is a way to give back to this wonderful community that is home,” Sonia says.

DRA’s president of the board, Colleen McGuinness says, “As an association we speak on behalf of the neighbourhood.” She points out there are many accomplishments to be proud of during the DRA’s 25-year history. She has been involved for 10 years and is in her second term as president. She mentions, “A two year term provides continuity and allows new people to step up and contribute to the board.”

Part of their work involves advocacy at City Hall. They utilize the expertise of their members to act as spokespeople. She points to board members Bill Rapanos (a retired planner) and Jonathan Weisman (a lawyer) as two examples of instrumental DRA advocates.

With a small budget and no paid staff, Colleen admits it is hard to manage new technologies such as the website that they are in the midst of redesigning. The association appreciates the work of two students from Lord Byng Secondary who manage the DRA’s interactive email list for communication amongst Dunbar neighbours.

DRA played a role in initiating the Dunbar Community Patrol, DEEP (Dunbar Earthquake and Emergency Preparedness) and Salmonberry Days.

Every month, considerable effort is made to schedule the Dunbar Community Patrol, run entirely by volunteers to increase neighbourhood safety. Patrol assignments are based on the city’s crime statistics with the goal of ensuring coverage throughout Dunbar with an emphasis on higher crime areas.

DEEP emerged out of a presentation Village Vancouver Transition Society (VV) made to the DRA in 2011. At this meeting, enthusiasm ignited and key DRA members including Susan Chapman, Jane Ingman Baker and Walter Wells formed a steering committee to join forces with Ann Pacey of VV to form DEEP. This active team of Dunbar citizens has been talking about and preparing for a full-scale earthquake, to ensure Dunbar residents are able to take care of themselves and each other should such a disaster occur.

Synonymous with May in Dunbar is Salmonberry Days, a unique month long environmental festival to build awareness of Dunbar’s natural surroundings. The DRA created this event in partnership with the Dunbar Community Centre Association and the business association that was active at that time.

Each year Salmonberry Days chooses a theme and fills the entire month with walks, talks and a bus tour.

As an example, Colleen describes how 60 people will magically appear to go on a guided walking tour of the neighbourhood to learn about the fascinating history of Dunbar’s early architecture and the original property owners.

This year the Salmonberry Days planning committee has selected anniversaries as the theme, to tie in with the festival’s 20th anniversary, the 25th anniversary of the DRA, and Canada’s 150th birthday celebration. Nature, the environment, history, gardening and community will be in the spotlight.

The culminating event is the annual Dunbar Community Centre Associations’ Salmon-berry Days Fair on May 28 at Memorial Park. The DRA is looking at new funding sources for Salmonberry Days. Colleen says, “Happily, this year we have found an anonymous fairy godmother.”

B.C.’s May 9 provincial election is just around the corner. The DRA always organizes a candidates’ debate and this year, working in cooperation with the Dunbar Community Centre Association, it will be held on April 28 at Dunbar Community Centre. “We always get an excellent turn out. Dunbar is a politically savvy community,” Colleen says.

Colleen explains why she offers her time, and her response likely represents many DRA volunteers’ motives. She says, “Dunbar is my community. I want to live in a viable, safe and engaged neighbourhood and this is how I can do my part.”

As for the future of the DRA, Sonia concludes, “The organization is still very important and relevant as the city and its neighborhoods are rapidly changing.”

Thank you to each DRA champion who has offered his or her time over the past 25 years to help make Dunbar a special place to call home. Here’s to the next 25 years!

Membership in the DRA is $20/household/year ($10 if a household member is 65 or over) and runs from October to September. Monthly DRA meetings take place on the first Tuesday of the month at the Dunbar Community Centre. Visit the DRA’s website for the schedule at www.dunbar-vancouver.org

Granville Gardens

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Granville Gardens lobbyA Unique Boutique Residence. Kerrisdale’s New Senior’s Community Feeds the Spirit.

The innovation and architectural quality of Granville Gardens is just the first hint of the uniqueness that has been passionately considered for those who enter through the port-cochere.

Filtered fresh air, steam fireplace, wifi, patios surrounded by water features and lots of natural light give this residence a bright west coast style. With only 62 suites one can certainly expect nothing less than a personalized experience.

Centrally located at the corner of Granville Street and W. 49th Avenue, the building is situated conveniently close to amenities in Kerrisdale, Marpole and Oakridge. Yet with triple glazed windows and double drywall, it feels miles away from city life.

Wilma Atchison and Sandra BarrThe warmth and passion of the entire Granville Gardens team is clear. “Creating meaningful environments that promote close community ties is important to us,” says Wilma Atchison, General Manager. “Feeding the spirit is our top priority whether it is being more active, more social, pursuing something familiar or trying something new.” Where you live really does matter.

“It’s where we want to learn what is most important to you. By providing choices such as all-day dining, flexible menu options, life enrichment programs and excursions by shuttle bus. Our ambassador program offers a variety of volunteer opportunities—anywhere from hosting events to selling merchandise in our Tuck Shoppe. If it is meaningful to you, do more of it. No compromises necessary,” adds Sandra Barr, Assistant General Manager. “What does life enrichment mean to you?”

A variety of suites are available, but with accelerating demand from visitors, timing is essential. “It’s an exciting time for individuals to have the opportunity to be a part of building a community from the ground up,” Wilma adds “and where really good friendships are made.” Everyone has a story to share.

Recognizing that each person is unique in their interests, abilities and preferences, and with access to a professional health and wellness coach, the option for personalized support is convenient, comforting and empowering.

The three-storey building is extremely attractive. The large open concept lounge and Red Maple Restaurant are very serene spaces with a seaside feel. Beautiful shades of blue, gray and earth tones have been chosen for furnishings and carpets. Slate tiled walls, beautiful artwork and millwork, amongst magnificent floor to ceiling windows add to the peaceful ambience.

Granville Gardens studioA furnished guest suite offers a retreat stay for those interested in sampling an experience or not worrying about household chores, enjoying dining excellence at one’s convenience and where visitors are always welcome.

A variety of unique studio and one-bedroom suites offer complimentary feature wall paint choices, high ceilings and views overlooking one of three garden patios surrounding the building. The building is non- smoking and pet friendly. Parking is on a first come basis and included for the first year. Secured scooter parking is also available.

Granville Gardens roomSuites feature a spacious bathroom with walk-in shower, kitchenette with apartment sized fridge and a state of the art emergency response system. Consideration for space saving storage units are included, and one can consult with an interior designer about storage solutions to personalize one’s space.

Amenities invite one to explore new interests or continue favourites in the Fine Arts Studio, Club Lounge (poker or bridge anyone?) and the Great Room, a space to host exercise programs of Osteofit, tai chi and yoga, TED talks, musical guests and educational forums.

In-house amenities include a small library called ‘The Book Nook,’ ‘Ye Olde Tuck Shoppe’ and a Hair Salon. A variety of mobile services will offer head to toe pampering from foot care and spa treatments, or for your convenience visiting hearing consultants or lab services.

Granville Gardens Chef TeamThe dining experience of farm to table selections is truly a taste journey, bursting with flavour. It starts with our Bistro Bar which offers a continental breakfast for the early riser or beverages and snacks the rest of the day. The Red Maple Restaurant, with a Maitre d’ to welcome you and your guests, is open from 9:00am to 7:00pm, offering daily specials or an à la carte option. Between meals consider our Bistro Menu, featuring signature inspired dishes. In suite dining is also available as required.

Granville Gardens diningThe dining experience is more than just about nutrition. Chef Rodrigo explains, “One eats with their eyes, heart and taste buds.” The Chef and his team take a personal interest in your dining experience, offering a wide array of international flavors and personal preferences, whether vegetarian or gluten free. A beautiful private dining room overlooking a private patio space is peaceful and perfect for special events, meetings and celebrations.

Granville Gardens W 49thGranville Gardens’ team and philosophy embraces one’s desire to continue to have a lifestyle which best suits them, regardless of one’s age. Undoubtedly, this beautiful residence is “inspired senior living” at its best that individuals will feel proud and happy to call home.

Granville Gardens
100-1550 West 49th Avenue
Vancouver, BC, V6M 2R6
Telephone 604-563-3540
www.verveseniorliving.com/granville-gardens

The Dunbar Public House

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Dunbar Pub drink crowd Palla MediaWhere Friends Gather.

For the past nine years The Dunbar Public House has been Dunbar’s hang out. Dima Mekhlis is the soft-spoken, friendly owner of this restaurant where locals drop in to enjoy a bite to eat, have a drink and watch a game on one of the establishment’s three flat screen TVs.

The corner restaurant is a wonderful spot to meet for dinner before or after a movie at Dunbar Theatre.

It has a pub-like feel but is completely family friendly; for many years it was a diner. Dima says, “Many of those patrons grew up and progressed from milkshakes to beer.” Long term Dunbar residents may remember the location was previously a bike shop and a pharmacy.

The wall is decorated with an assortment of jerseys, including hockey, soccer and baseball. The Dunbar Public House staff is always happy to tune in to whatever sporting event customers’ request. Dima admits his favourite team is the Canucks, especially during playoff season.

Originally from Ukraine, Dima spent his high school and college years in Israel. He has lived in Vancouver for the past 18 years and is the proud father of two daughters.

Dunbar Pub drink burger Palla MediaThe menu highlights pub fare. The house-made hamburgers are the restaurant’s specialty, and what goes better with a burger and fries than a nice cold beer? Some of the featured items include the 29th Ave Burger (in honour of their location at Dunbar Street and West 29th Avenue) with goat cheese and avocado. Also on the menu you will find the lamb burger, the Cajun chicken and tuna burgers and the veggie burger with sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese.

Sandwiches, house-made soup and salads and tempting appies including nachos, chicken tenders, perogies, poutine, pork dry ribs and steamed edamame are also available.

Dunbar Pub drink nachos Palla MediaIn addition to the lunch and dinner menu, The Dunbar Public House offers a brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday between 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (and on statutory holidays). A veggie omelette is offered along with eggs Benedict, Montreal meat hash, steak or bacon and eggs, or the Dunbar skillet (veggies, two poached eggs, hollandaise, with your choice of bacon, chorizo, BBQ pulled pork, or smoked salmon). Add a mimosa or a craft Caesar if you like to kick-start your day!

Check out the board to see the daily specials (drinks and food) and don’t miss happy hour every day from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. until closing. Open seven days a week until midnight (until 1:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday), this is one of Dunbar’s only late night hangouts.

Dunbar Pub drink beer Palla MediaThe Dunbar Public House serves eight draft beers and also is a keen supporter of local craft beers. In total there are 21 bottled beers to choose from. Patrons can look forward to light ales as the summer months approach.

Enticing draft cocktails include the Snake Bite (Strongbow cider, Howe Sound lager and blackcurrant juice) and the Creamsicle (Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc and a shot of Absolut Mandarin). Regular cocktails such as the Bicycle (Vanilla Stoli mixed with lemonade) and the Stress Reliever (vodka, dark rum, peach schnapps, cranberry and orange juice) are sure to wet your whistle.

What makes this restaurant stand out? Dima says, “I believe it is my friendly staff; many are long time employees.”

Dunbar Pub drink Dima Mekhlis Palla MediaHis staff is a group of energetic young people who help to provide an exciting and eclectic environment. Some of them are locals while others come from other parts of Canada and around the globe.

“As a long term community restaurant we care about the neighbourhood.” Dima Mekhlis

He adds, “It’s all about team effort here. The neighbourhood is very special too.” Many customers live in the area and are loyal customers. Dima enjoys his role in offering an environment where good memories are created.

Mark your calendar for Mother’s Day and treat mum to brunch. Close down the home kitchen – breakfast in bed is nice – but going out and having the option to order off a menu earns brownie points!

Dunbar Pub drink 4497 Palla MediaThe south facing patio is a popular place to sit year round thanks to the overhead heaters. People watch, enjoy the sun, wave to your neighbours as they pass by, and best of all, if you are a local, stroll home after a drink and meal. After all, that’s the beauty of having a local public house in your community.

The Dunbar Public House
4497 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2G4
Telephone 604-222-9922
www.thedunbar.ca

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
www.temartialarts.com

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 Little League

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Champion of Dunbar Village.

You can almost hear the aluminum bat ping, smell the burgers on the grill and feel the teams’ collective energy as David Berrington enthusiastically describes his involvement with Dunbar Little League (DLL).

David-Berrington-DLL-Dunbar-LifeDavid is president of DLL’s board and he’s a huge fan of the organization. This season DLL celebrates its sixtieth season, making it Vancouver’s second oldest Little League. Although the season is short, three months in total from April to June, in addition to tournament season (mid-June to the end of July), DLL is a true community anchor.

Volunteers are fully responsible for running DLL and there is no problem getting people out to lend a hand. David says, “This is not drop and go, this is drop and participate.”

“We have the strongest volunteer base of any league we interact with. We measure our success by our community spirit.” David Berrington

An example of community spirit is the pre-season field preparation workday; approximately 150 people turn out every year without fail. They come equipped with hoes, shovels and rakes to weed, put up fences, and spread “red gold” which is what David jokingly says they call the expensive dirt.

He mentions that season openers draw as many as 500 kids and 1,000 family members. He adds, “No other Dunbar events have a turn out like this.” Closing day also draws huge crowds. An annual parade kicks off the day, beginning at West King Edward Avenue and processes, complete with police escorts, along Dunbar Street to Memorial Park. With as many as 700 kids, coaches and parents joining in, by the time they reach the park the numbers double in size with the awaiting crowd.

Community celebrations are at the heart of DLL. Perhaps it is because, as David acknowledges, “Baseball has a rich tradition of history and ceremony” that they place value on commemorating special occasions. On Mother’s Day the concession stand is off limits – no mothers are allowed to volunteer. Instead, mothers and grandmothers are showered with adoration in the form of a cooked breakfast made by the dads.

Another notable occasion is the annual coaches game. This one night tournament is an opportunity for everyone to come out and watch the coaches play. A volunteer who happens to be a restaurateur, came up with the idea of offering a special menu of meatball sandwiches and crab rolls at the concession stand, which met with great approval. As many as 300 people have come out to cheer on the coaches; kids act as umpires and get an opportunity to make announcements. Pancake day for the Majors players is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the senior players prior to the playoffs. They hold fun competitions and players receive a commemorative pin in appreciation of their time spent with DLL.

Players and their families are guaranteed to be neighbours due to set boundaries within the Dunbar area.

Only accepting registrations from Dunbar kids creates instant connections with one another at Memorial Park and Balaclava Park, which are the home parks to the 500 DLL players who range in age from 4 to 12.

Beginning at age 4 children can sign up for T-ball where they will get their first taste of being a Little Leaguer. At age 7 they progress to Minor B division (the only level that plays at Balaclava Park), at age 9 they advance to Minor A and finally at age 11 through 12 they reach Majors division at Memorial Park’s big diamond.

All teams are co-ed and it’s never too late to learn to play baseball. David notes that while registration has already taken place for the older divisions, T-ball registration is underway during the month of February.

“The concession turns a small profit every year. It’s not about making a profit, it’s about the community feeling.” David Berrington

The concession is open to everyone; residents will often stroll by and make a purchase. For $5 you can purchase a burger and drink. Popcorn, hot dogs, Caesar salad wraps and slushies are all very popular but the top seller by far is the candy bags priced at a mere 50 cents. Over the course of a season DLL sells over 6,000 bags. Groups of volunteers meet twice a season to bag the candy.

With 50 DLL teams in total there are plenty of opportunities for local businesses to get involved as sponsors. David mentions there is a waiting list to sponsor the Majors level. Businesses benefit from exposure to local residents but it is also a philanthropic investment in the neighbourhood that drives many to get involved.

How did David get involved? Although he did not play baseball as a child he made a point of introducing his two sons to a variety of sports. They became hooked and have worked their way up through DLL. His oldest son has now moved on to Bantam Triple A with Vancouver Community Baseball. His youngest son is completing his final year in DLL’s Majors division.

DLL logo sqDavid admits that as a human resources consultant his strength is managing and leading people. He has thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for DLL. With one final year as president he admits, “I’ll miss it terribly. The involvement I have is special.” He will remain for an additional year as past president, but will always be involved in some capacity. “I don’t own the league. I have been a caretaker for a few years. You always hope to leave an organization in a better place when you move on,” he says.

Regarding the sixtieth anniversary season DLL plans to host an alumni game and hold a party in June which all former coaches and players are invited to attend. Information and details will be forthcoming on DLL’s website at www.dunbarbaseball.ca

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
www.dunbarpainting.com

New District

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

new-district-wine-farrell-kearney-hampson-thorpe-dunbar-life-palla-mediaFrom Vineyard to Table

The south end of Dunbar has recently gained a bit of a Main Street feel with New District wine shop having moved into the neighbourhood.

New District opened in May 2016 and is a full service liquor store with a difference – 98% of the wines they sell are not available in government liquor stores. Their goal is to shine the spotlight on small and medium sized wineries that may otherwise not be carried in larger stores due to the volume they would need to produce.

If you have gone on an Okanagan wine tour and returned home hoping to find that gem you tasted and fell in love with, you may very well find it at New District, and if you don’t, they will try their best to special order it (by the case is best!). The shop also carries wines from around the world that you won’t commonly find elsewhere.

“Every wine has a story behind it, and we are great storytellers at New District.” Isaac Hampson-Thorpe

Here you will also find beer – both larger brand names and craft beer – and craft spirits. New District carries products from 20 different B.C. distilleries such as G&W Distilling, Long Table, Odd Society, Shelter Point and Victoria Spirits.

The interior of the store is beautiful and takes advantage of the shop’s high ceilings. Wine and spirits are displayed on tall custom shelves, industrial glass pendant lights hang from the ceiling, and rich coloured wood flooring conjures thoughts of wine barrels.

Tables are elegantly displayed with specials and themed selections to help make your search for the perfect bottle even easier, however you will never feel at a loss as New District is staffed with wine experts who are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about wine. All of the staff are certified wine educators, but also have other talents: one is a pastry chef, another is certified sommelier, two are bartenders, and a number are former wine store managers; they can help direct you to the perfect bottle.

new-district-wine-1-dunbar-life-palla-mediaStore manager Isaac Hampson-Thorpe got an early start in the business. Family ties in B.C.’s wine country (Naramata) allowed him to spend time in the region and once he started working in a winery he never turned back. He has worked on both the retail side and as an agent and is currently enrolled at Sonoma State University, perfecting his industry acumen in the Wine Business Management program.

Like all of New District’s staff, Hampson-Thorpe is passionate about wine. He says, “New District is big on educating people, and simplifying the enjoyment of wine.”

One of the company’s secret weapons is DJ Kearney, New District’s director of wine. Multi-talented, she is a certified sommelier, wine educator, wine writer, judge, presenter and classically trained chef.

Kearney comments, “We are a strong team at New District. Isaac and I collaborate on the wine buying and merchandising. Our sales team are vastly experienced and dedicated to providing supreme customer service and a great shopping experience.“

“We are much more than the physical store however, with an online e-commerce store so customers can opt to shop from home or work.” DJ Kearney

Their beautiful website offers curated wine selections, giving customers a mix of B.C.’s best, compiled by Kearney. New District does the legwork for you, to expertly hone in on the world of wine. A weekly email newsletter keeps customers informed of what’s new in store.

new-district-wine-2-dunbar-life-palla-mediaNot only can you order online, New District will also deliver to your home year round (including the holiday season – and that strikes one errand off your busy to-do list). Orders of $200 or more qualify for free delivery.

Having experienced a busy Thanksgiving, the New District staff is excited about the upcoming festive season. For the wine connoisseur on your gift-giving list, or to stock up for a busy month of entertaining and parties, New District’s advent calendar showcases 25 different wines and will be available in November.

The word is quickly spreading that New District is the new wine store in Dunbar. Hampson-Thorpe mentions, “Many locals are connecting with the store. Others are coming from across the city.”

The official grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, November 19 and promises to be a fun-filled event with wine tastings and an opportunity to meet the New District team. If you miss the opening you can always drop by for weekly beer tastings (Fridays) and wine tastings (Sundays), hosted by Assistant Manager Martin Farrell.

Hampson-Thorpe concludes, “Dunbar is a community that enjoys wine and spirits. It’s an exciting time for us. It’s a great neighbourhood and we are really happy to be here.”

New District
5650 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6N 1W7
604-229-3663
www.newdistrict.ca

Mexicali

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.

Mexicali
4424 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2G5
Telephone 604-731-6517
www.mexicali.ca