Archive for the ‘Story by Sarah Gordon’ Category

Vibes Fitness

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Are you looking for a unique workout that can benefit you no matter what your present fitness level may be? Vibration exercise may be just what you’ve been searching for.

JR Justesen is the enthusiastic and multi-talented physiotherapist who not only owns Parkway Physiotherapy + Performance Centre in Victoria but also purchased Vibes Fitness earlier this year. He holds the title of physiotherapist and president of the company.

There are currently three franchised locations in Victoria in addition to the one right here in Dunbar, which is both a studio and serves as the company’s franchise sales centre.

JR comments, “I purchased Vibes Fitness because I believe in the ability of this technology to provide a platform for people to work hard to safely gain strength, flexibility, balance and mobility, no matter their age. As a physio for many years, it is clear that there are fewer options for seniors to stay healthy and fit with good balance, muscle mass, circulation and mobility. I wanted to keep helping people and had used vibration training in our clinic so was familiar with the science and the great benefits it can offer people of all ages and fitness levels.”

Dunbar was selected as the first Vancouver location based on similarities it shares with the Victoria studios; both areas have golf courses nearby (Vibes workouts are popular with golfers) and similar demographics.

“My vision for this company is to bring clinical science to the field and to nurture, train and support the franchise owners and trainers of the Vibes family.” JR Justesen

“They are transforming lives for the better each and every day,” he adds.

JR’s focus as company president is to bring his medical background to the franchisees and trainers so that they can offer the most effective training programs to their clients. JR is also a trainer and spends time with members doing assessments and workouts.

What exactly is a vibration workout and what does it entail?

Vibration exercise is simply performing exercise on a vibration platform. Since the platform moves up and down it increases gravity and stimulates muscle reflexes. These factors combine to increase muscle recruitment, strength, balance, mobility and circulation.

Workouts are quick; they generally take 15 to 20 minutes. It can take a yoga slant where the emphasis is on holding poses and range of motion or it can take a strength and conditioning slant where a client performs push-up, squats, lunges and planks on the vibration platform in a circuit type of workout.

Typically three or four people workout in the small studio at one time which allows for plenty of individual attention.

Clients receive ample personal care to ensure they have an enjoyable experience, exercise with correct form and their workouts progress in a safe manner to achieve their goals.

Who can benefit from working out at Vibes? JR says, “Anybody who can benefit from weight bearing strength exercise can benefit from vibration training. Younger athletes who do the same exercises on vibration or non-vibrating platforms see small gains in comparison whereas older adults typically see significantly greater gains. We do not know why this is but it appears to relate to the increase in growth hormone and testosterone.”

Vibes Fitness studio is clean, elegantly appointed and provides a spa like atmosphere.

Potential members receive a free one-week trial where they attend three times. A trainer will meet to discuss goals, injury history and your training background. Many people feel a difference after as few as three workouts.

Members typically attend one to three times per week. Those who come once per week are usually incorporating vibration training with other fitness activities such as tennis, golf, dance, Pilates and jogging. Those who attend three times per week usually have made Vibes their primary strength and circuit training studio.

JR and trainer Nancy Mann run the Dunbar studio. Regarding the Dunbar community JR remarks, “Dunbar still has the vibe of mom and pop stores which we love. People have been very kind to us and are very welcoming to me personally and also as a business person.”

JR is extremely grateful to be able to help improve and change people’s lives. He says, “This is true of being a physiotherapist and also of being a Vibes trainer. When one can make a living helping people it is a very fine thing indeed.”

Vibes Fitness
5628 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6N 1W7
Telephone 604-428-8423
www.vibesfitness.ca

Dunbar Dairy Queen & Orange Julius

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Ten Years of Tempting Treats. The warm weather has finally arrived and it’s officially ice cream season! Simon and Jessica Tran’s Dunbar Dairy Queen/Orange Julius franchise is a year round destination, yet summer is by far their busiest season as hot Dunbarites come in looking for their favourite frozen treats and beverages.

The couple are thrilled to be celebrating their tenth year as DQ franchise owners. Simon admits that winter was challenging with multiple snowfalls followed by the wettest spring in many years, but they are grateful to their customers who continued to come in for DQ’s treats (Blizzards, soft ice cream, sundaes and legendary ice cream cakes), and Orange Julius’ drinks and hot dogs.

Prior to being a DQ franchise owner Simon worked as a crane operator. When he decided it was time for a career change, a friend who owns a DQ franchise suggested Simon explore this option. Simon was convinced – he believed in the product and signed up.

In 2008 the Dunbar DQ store was new to the area; DQ’s corporate office made the decision to put in a small-scale treat centre rather than a full service DQ grill.

Dunbar’s DQ has succeeded thanks to exceptional products and outstanding customer service.

Simon and Jessica work as a team – he makes the cakes and she decorates them. Customers can order from the extensive designs offered or they can request a custom cake.

He makes the ice cream cakes three times a week for optimum freshness. The store was originally equipped with three display cases but due to the popularity of the cakes he expanded to five cases. “My cakes have to be the freshest in town. I make them as I go. I don’t have the space to store them.” In addition, he also makes the DQ Sandwiches and Dilly Bars.

Dunbar DQ’s top seller is the Dunbar Special Blizzard. Simon laughs and says, “It is also known as the Simon Special.”

This popular Blizzard is created with Reese’s peanut butter, a cookie layer and a shot of liquid peanut butter sauce.

Simon is extremely warm and jovial and is instantly likeable. He and Jessica are originally from Vietnam and both were boat people. Jessica started her new life as a Canadian in Edmonton while Simon lived in Halifax. They met in Vancouver in 1989 and married soon afterward.

Simon bounced around between foster homes and group homes until he was adopted at age 12. He has only positive words to say about his Canadian parents. Regarding his tough early years Simon says, “It made me wiser and stronger. I didn’t have anything until my parents took me in and gave me unconditional love.” His optimistic attitude did not allow him to give up. Simon is very humble and wants to share his story to let others know that it is possible to turn your life around.

Like many small business people Simon works incredibly long hours. For many years he clocked 16-hour days and it caught up with him. He was missing spending time with his young son and he decided he couldn’t do that anymore; he has managed to shorten his days to a mere 12 hours. He smiles and says, “I am blessed and I am happy.”

He doesn’t know where he and Jessica would be without her parents who help with their 8-year-old son TJ. Simon is also extremely grateful for his older daughter Vanesa who is now in nursing school; she assisted her mother and father for many years at the shop. TJ also likes to lend a hand sweeping floors and cleaning windows. Simon believes in starting early to instill a strong work ethic.

“I feel so blessed that I am part of this wonderful community.” Simon Tran

Dunbar DQ believes in giving back to the community that actively supports them; one way they do this is through donations to schools. Simon mentions all of the school kids who come by for treats. He says, “May is my favourite month when students I have seen grow up come in to tell me where they are going to university in the fall. Some will return later to tell me how they are doing.”

Celebrating a 10-year anniversary is a milestone for any business. For Simon the most important message to communicate to Dunbar Life readers is his how thankful he is for their patronage. He says, “What I most appreciate about Dunbar is the people – the families and the kids who have supported me for the last 10 years. Please mention that, won’t you?” I remind Simon that what you give out is what you get back – he likes that.

Dunbar Dairy Queen/Orange Julius
3380 Dunbar Street, Vancouver BC V6S 2C1
Telephone 604-733-2884
www.dairyqueen.com

 

Stong’s Market

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

A Grand Return to Dunbar.

It was a perfect spring day – the sun was shining, music was playing and it felt like a big Dunbar block party when Stong’s Market officially re-opened on May 13.

John Roden, Stong’s marketing manager reports, “It was great to see the fun and excitement as kids were high-fiving Spiderman and people were spinning the prize wheel. We couldn’t have asked for a better grand re-opening celebration.”

There was a noticeable absence in the neighbourhood last May when the grocery store closed due to redevelopment of the 4500 block of Dunbar Street. Remarkably, Stong’s was only gone for seven months while the new location at West 27th Avenue and Dunbar Street was being completed.

This is the fourth time Stong’s has relocated on Dunbar Street in 62 years.

Stongs Market Cori Bonina Dunbar LifeThe original 1955 location was situated where BMO now resides. In 1960 Stong’s moved to 4326 Dunbar (now home to Shoppers Drug Mart). In 1980 it moved south to its former location across from Dunbar Theatre. The new Stong’s is in almost the same location as the original 1955 store.

Stong’s president and owner Cori Bonina holds the honour of being the fourth generation owner of this family business. Her great grandfather Carson Stong opened the first Stong’s Market in the early 1890s in Toronto with his brother Joe. With the onset of the Depression in 1931, Carson moved to Vancouver and set up two of the first open-air markets in Vancouver. His son Ralph opened the first Vancouver Stong’s Market in 1955.

Ralph’s son-in law Bill Rossum (Cori’s father) took over as general manager in 1971. Cori joined forces with her father and became general manager in 1997; she took over as president in 2001. Her son Carson is carrying on the family legacy; he is the manager of Stong’s new Northwood location in North Vancouver.

2016 was a monumental year for Stong’s. The Northwood location opened in May and in December the Dunbar village store had a soft re-opening.

Frank Rainey, director of store operations, mentions that designing Stong’s from the ground up was a wonderful opportunity. He says, “We are proud to have evolved into a 21st century grocery store where customers can expect an elevated shopping experience.”

Stongs Market butcher Dunbar LifeThe attractive Dunbar village store has increased in size by 6,000 square feet and features modern elements such as concrete floors, exposed ceilings and a West Coast feel through the use of wood panelled walls, but at the same time the past is still very much present. Champion, the beloved coin-operated horse, awaits eager young riders. John says, “Parents bring their children to ride on the horse they rode as a child.” Historical photos are also nicely integrated to celebrate the store’s rich past. Another nod to the past is a free cookie at the bakery for little ones.

Specialized departments surround the periphery of the shop. If you are looking for magnificent floral arrangements head to Stems, located at the store’s entrance. Five floral designers are on staff to create wow factor custom bouquets.

The introduction of a stone oven pizza is proving to be a big hit, as is Edibles, the expanded deli where customers can choose from a large selection of take home prepared foods including many offerings from Stong’s own brand, Cori’s Kitchen. Frank mentions that Stong’s roasted chicken continues to be one of the favorites with their customers.

In a rush and need to grab a meal on the go? Head to the panini counter or pick up some freshly made sushi. If baked goods are on your shopping list the in house bakery is sure to please. As a side note, the tantalizing aromas circulating from the various departments can lead you on a hunt to track down what’s cooking.

Tip: There is plenty of spacious free underground parking on site.

A wide selection of products from major national brands to an extensive selection of unique, gourmet, natural and organic products can be found. Stong’s takes pride in supporting local suppliers of all sizes; work is well under way to expand the selection of local produce as they have been reaching out to a lot of local farmers.

Stong’s also supports many local small suppliers looking to develop their product; it was the first store to offer Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisp crackers, which are now sold throughout North America.

“Stong’s staff are passionate about their departments. They love what they do.” Frank Rainey

As anyone who shops at Stong’s knows, it is a community hub where you run into friends and neighbours in the aisles. With the introduction of Replenish café, customers can catch up over an impromptu coffee and light snack. On warm days roll up garage doors open with additional seating outdoors.

Stongs Market Cori Pizza Dunbar LifeNo time to go grocery shopping or perhaps you can’t make it out of your house? No worries, Stong’s Express is an online shopping service which offers next day delivery to most of the Lower Mainland with dedicated personal shoppers and trucks on the road seven days a week.

John aptly points out, “Stong’s is the heart of the community. There is an emotional connection to this store.” Without a doubt, Stong’s short-term closure reinforced Dunbar residents’ vested interest in their market. They love to shop locally and support independent businesses, and are extremely happy to have their favourite grocery store back.

Stong’s Market
4221 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2G1
Telephone 604-266-1401
www.stongs.com

All Nations Stamp and Coin

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Brian Grant Duff, All Nations Stamp and Coin, Dunbar LifeKeeping the Hobby Alive.

Stamp and coin collecting has been Brian Grant Duff’s lifelong hobby. As a young boy he was hospitalized for a lengthy period and his grandmother would visit him regularly with gifts. When the novelty of comic books wore off she began bringing him stamps and coins, which were instant hits. Little did Brian realize the introduction of this hobby would lead to him becoming a stamp and coin dealer.

At age 14 he ran his first stamp approval business. This involved sending selections of stamps to other collectors on approval – they would purchase the ones they wanted and return the rest.

Following high school Brian began an arts degree in English and History but abandoned his studies to run and eventually own stamp and coin concessions at both Eaton’s and The Bay. Eaton’s also sent him to Toronto to run the stores and auctions in that city.

In 1998 an opportunity arose to purchase the well-established business All Nations Stamp and Coin shop which was originally located in downtown Vancouver. Brian simultaneously juggled his work at The Bay with ownership of All Nations for ten years.

In 2008 he moved the shop to Dunbar (where he resides with his family) to the former home of The Silver Shop. Brian says, “To this day people still drop in looking for the previous owner Murray James.”

He brought to the business his vast experience of buying, selling, and auctioning Canadian and worldwide stamps, collections and postal history.

“This is a labour of love. I want to keep the hobby going.” Brian Grant Duff

Stamp collecting has been around since shortly after the inception of postage stamps. The world’s first stamp was issued by Great Britain in 1840. As the originator of postage stamps, Great Britain did not put the country’s name on its stamps — the tradition continues to this day.
Like other retail storefronts, online shopping has impacted All Nations walk in business. Brian has cleverly adapted his business and holds a live weekly auction every Saturday at noon. He says this is now the largest part of his business. He curates and publishes a list on All Nations’ website of the postcards, stamps and coins up for auction.

“Collecting is a great tradition to carry on. Collectors of all ages come to see me for stamps; young collectors are looking for coins more than stamps at the moment. The market is looking for gold and silver,” he says. Only Canadian coins minted before 1968 are silver; coins minted after 1968 are composed of copper and nickel.

Some of Brian’s customers have been loyal to him since his Eaton’s days more than 30 years ago.

He explains, “It’s about building a clientele who trust you.” Collectors come from far and wide, from Bellingham to Yukon, and on auction days bids come from across the country.

All Nations Stamp and Coin DunbarChoosing the theme of a stamp collection is part of the fun – some collectors focus on stamps from their home country while others select a favourite topic such as ships, trains, birds or royalty. Brian mentions Mrs. Eaton enjoyed collecting frog stamps.

Are you thinking about selling your collection or perhaps just a few pieces? This can be the right move if you realize you’ve gone as far with your collection as you are likely to. Sharing your material with other collectors who have been searching at length for material you possess can be very gratifying.

Tip: Don’t clean coins if you are planning on selling them.

If you have a coin or stamp you are curious about Brian and his staff offer a free quick look over; if you are seeking a detailed appraisal the cost is $1 per minute.

As a history buff Brian is excited about Canada’s 150th birthday and mentions the opportunity for plenty of historical tie ins for his business. In the past he has sold some unusual items including a Gassy Jack Deighton letter and signature from 1875, the year the Gastown founder died. Brian mentions the document yielded a fair price at auction.

Only a couple of stores in Vancouver continue to still sell stamps and coins. Brian points out All Nations Stamp and Coin is a member of the Canadian Stamp Dealer’s Association. He says, “I am a stamp and coin resource. I can help people locate what they are looking for, and if I don’t have the answer I will refer them to someone who does.”

Brian concludes, “I always welcome people to join in our merry band of collecting. It is a way to relax and take control in a chaotic world.”

All Nations Stamp and Coin
5630 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6N 1W7
Telephone 604-684-4613
www.allnationsstampandcoin.com

All Nations Stamp and Coin, 5630 Dunbar

Pacific Spirit Park Society

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Krista Voth, Pacific Spirit Park, Dunbar Life

Champion of Dunbar Village.

Dunbar is privileged to have magnificent Pacific Spirit Regional Park backing onto the neighbourhood. Twice the size of Stanley Park, it boasts 78 kilometres of forested trails frequented by walkers, runners, bicyclists and horse riders.

Established in 1989, Pacific Spirit Regional Park was originally part of the University Endowment Lands. It was created as a natural forest preserve and is part of Metro Vancouver’s park system. Covering 763 hectares, the park consists of foreshore (including Wreck Beach), forest and Camosun Bog and is home to a variety of birds, small and large mammals and amphibians.

A number of rare native plants and some of the few remaining old-growth trees in the Lower Mainland can be found in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. The biodiversity of this rich ecosystem is threatened by the spread of invasive plants, especially English holly and ivy. However, all is not lost. The community is fortunate to have the dedicated Pacific Spirit Park Society (PSPS) led by program coordinator Krista Voth along with a committed board of directors and an army of volunteers (totalling 275) who act as public stewards of the park.

Krista is a former Waldorf and Montessori teacher. She is studying geography at UBC and has a keen interest in the way urban parks are used and cared for by the public. Beyond her course work in the Environment and Sustainability program, her research focuses on citizen science data collection and social inclusion in public parks. She is always looking for new ways to educate people and her enthusiasm is contagious.

PSPS provides opportunities for volunteers to engage in stewardship projects and citizen science data collection, as well as offering a variety of volunteer run education programs.

Krista mentions that approximately 80 per cent of the volunteers in the stewardship and data collection programs are youth and young adults between 14 to 25 years of age. There are a number of ways volunteers contribute to Pacific Spirit Park Society.

Eco Team volunteers meet on Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. to remove invasive plants and help plant native species. Between 30 to 50 people come out each week to lend a hand and keep the Himalayan blackberry, holly and ivy at bay. Volunteers also assist in mapping illegal trails created by walkers and cyclists; they close off the trails by replanting and fencing them.

The Eco Watch program provides opportunities for volunteers to map and monitor the spread of invasive plants and to test the water quality in two of the Park’s streams that support salmon populations. Volunteers gain experience in the environmental science field and develop GPS mapping skills – the intention is to evaluate the effectiveness of the invasive plant removal programming and monitor the health of wildlife habitat.

Krista is excited to report that PSPS has recently received a TD Friends of the Environment grant to help fund their newest program: Eco Kits. The interactive educational kits include activities and lessons that are perfect for teachers and students visiting the park. Currently, bog and forest kits are being piloted and this fall the selection will expand to include streams and ponds.

Another popular program is Eco Walks, a partnership between PSPS and UBC’s Tapestry independent retirement community located near the park. PSPS offers a monthly nature walk and talk to a maximum of 15 people – Krista says there is always a waiting list.

Volunteer recruitment happens naturally. Like the spreading ivy, volunteers spread the word about their positive experiences and bring new helpers into the fold.

Krista says, “There is no minimum commitment of time, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Some volunteers come once, while others return week after week. People come from as far as Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey to offer their services. Some are students who are looking to fulfill volunteer hours required by their schools, others are retirees or people who don’t have yards.”

“Volunteering with PSPS helps people get out in nature who might not otherwise get a chance.” Krista Voth

The society partners with many local schools including Immaculate Conception School, Lord Byng Secondary, Queen Elizabeth Elementary, St. George’s School and University Hill Secondary. It has also formed a network with Eastside schools.

As well, PSPS partners with South Vancouver settlement agencies, new immigrants and international students. These groups are eager to participate in order to learn more about nature and Canada.

Krista mentions, “It is very satisfying for volunteers to see the results of their work.” She would like people to know that PSPS always welcomes new volunteers.

What does Krista find most rewarding about her work? “Definitely working with the volunteers. My favourite day is Saturday. I come home saying, ‘I have the best job in the world.’ People come out in all weathers – it’s a real highlight.” she says.

Thank you to these Champions of Dunbar Village who contribute countless hours for the betterment of the community. Like the name of the park, your boundless team ‘spirit’ is recognized and appreciated.

www.pacificspiritparksociety.org

Pacific Spirit Park Dunbar

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

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