Posts Tagged ‘cafe’

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

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

Hungry Dog Cafe

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

A Doggone Good Restaurant:

Hungry Dog Cafe Sandie Noble Dunbar LifeWalking up the path to Hungry Dog Cafe is like arriving at a friend’s house for a meal. The little restaurant is located in a tiny house, located slightly west of Dunbar Street on West 29th Avenue.

Once inside Hungry Dog Cafe you will be greeted with a warm hello from proprietor Sandie Noble. No matter how busy she is, she seems capable of stopping to take the time to welcome guests to her “bucket list” cafe.

This diner is her dream come true. For a number of years she and her children’s father, Robert Noble, owned two Moonpennies Coffee and Fine Foods restaurants in down-town Vancouver. Looking for a change, but wanting to stay in the restaurant business, she decided to open a restaurant in Dunbar Village, which she has proudly called home since 1971.

In 2012, when she was on the verge of starting her new journey, Sandie Noble was diagnosed with breast cancer. Based on her strength and character she says, “I knew I’d get through it” and indeed she did. She says, “I hope to inspire other women to get through breast cancer by keeping their eye on the prize.” Sandie Noble got her prize. In September 2014 she completed her final treatment and returned to planning Hungry Dog Cafe’s opening.

The business officially opened in late November 2014. Sandie Noble is extremely grateful to her landlady, who she calls “an earth angel,” for patiently waiting for her to occupy the space.

The business name came to Sandie Noble because it was catchy. She laughs when she reports some people have mistaken the restaurant for a dog bakery, although she points out they do have doggie treats for dogs who patiently wait outside while their owners eat.

Hungry Dog Cafe interior Dunbar LifeHungry Dog Cafe is an inviting space with its cheerful yellow walls, dark brown ceiling, vibrant wall art, and pale wood floors. A glass display case separates the five-table dining room from the open kitchen where Sandie Noble and her son Robbie Noble can be seen effortlessly preparing meals. It always makes them smile to hear people exclaim “Wow!” when they walk through the door.

Sandie Noble is committed to serving fresh and wholesome food. She remarks, “This is food that I would serve my family and friends at home.” She uses her own recipes and believes in purchasing the food locally.

The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch daily with a popular brunch menu on weekends. Hungry Dog Cafe serves breakfast all day for those who are seeking a tasty frittata including ham and cheese, three cheese, vegetarian or the Sunrise with eggs, peas, shredded carrots, honey ham, onions and Brie. The Road Trip breakfast features an English muffin with ham or bacon, cheddar cheese and egg.

The lunch menu includes sandwiches with fresh warm personal size baguettes as the foundation. These tasty baguettes from Vancouver’s Boulangerie La Parisienne bakery are purchased three-quarters cooked, with baking completed at Hungry Dog. Sandie Nobles says, “That way the bread is soft and warm inside and the crust is just right.”

There are a variety of sandwiches to satisfy any hungry dog.

Hungry Dog salads include a salad bursting with flavour featuring kale, chickpeas, feta, and lemon vinaigrette. The cheese tortellini salad with sun-dried tomatoes is another popular choice.

Housemade baked goods feature muffins, pies, cookies and loafs. Notable is the $1.50 a cup coffee and tea. It feels like stepping back in time to see such an affordable hot beverage.

In addition to serving meals in house Sandie and Robbie Noble (who was previously a sous chef at Earls) also run a busy catering service. She credits her son as “A hard worker and meticulous at his craft of cooking.” They are constantly inventing and trying new things. Sandie Noble confesses that inspiration can hit at anytime, including when they watch the Food Network. The pair will exclaim, “We can do that!”

This business owner is 100 per cent grateful to be living her dream and sharing her passion with her neighbourhood.

“It’s all about passion,” Sandie Noble says, and this is undoubtedly a large part of Hungry Dog Cafe’s success. Her love of food and people comes shining through. She is humble and is deeply appreciative for the support of Robert Noble (who co-owns the business) and their two other adult children, Annie and Connor, who are always willing to lend a hand.

Hungry Dog Cafe exterior Dunbar LifeWith warmer weather arriving there are plans to open an outdoor patio. The demand for more tables certainly exists as an increasing number of people flock to the restaurant. Sandie Noble reports, “The reception from the community has been outstanding” and one of the most satisfying comments this devoted restaurant owner hears from content diners is, “We’ll be back.”



Hungry Dog Cafe
3625 W 29th Ave
Vancouver BC V6S 2G4
Telephone 604-657-5481

Kokopelli Cafe

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The bond of friendship can brew great ideas.

Cindy Delgado and Jessica Hotz met in 2002 when their oldest children were in preschool. They lamented that although Dunbar was an ideal community to raise their respective families, there was a missing link, namely a cafe that would welcome parents and children with open arms and offer fresh and healthy food, like you would find at home.

On their wish list for a family friendly cafe were special touches that only parents would think of, such as a wide doorway and aisle to accommodate double strollers, a washroom with a child-sized sink, a change table, and of course a great play space for children.

Their vision for Kokopelli Cafe was born, and the business has flourished for seven years under the ownership of Delgado and Hotz, keeping families happy and well nourished.

After three months of major renovations to transform the space that was previously a green grocer, and prior to that a bakery, Kokopelli was open for business. All the food that they serve is made in the cafe’s kitchen daily from scratch. They are proud to offer healthy alternatives and tasty gluten-free options.

Choices abound on the impressive menu. Hot and cold beverages include coffee, tea, hot chocolate, iced drinks and blended “Frapelli” drinks. If you are looking for something to tantalize your taste buds the vast selection of baked goods ranges from carrot cake, to loaves (lemon, chocolate chunk zucchini and the Maui loaf, laden with coconut, pineapple and banana), brownies, muffins, scones, cookies and banana bread. Another treat is the mini donut muffin which tastes like a donut, but is not fried.

The breakfast and lunch menu is abundant. Breakfast croissants, yogurt and granola, wraps (the Southwest wrap features black beans, cheese, brown rice and cilantro), quiche, quinoa salad and sandwiches (including Tuscan chicken and Portobello mushroom). Not forgotten are their youngest customers, who can order grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt, fresh fruit, baby food in jars and Baby Mum-Mum rice biscuits.

Not only can you enjoy food fresh from Kokopelli’s kitchen while you are at the cafe, but you can also take it home. These smart thinking entrepreneurs also sell their own granola, which is so popular that it is now available at Stong’s, IGA and The Heights Market. Some local bed and breakfasts also serve it at their tables.

Designed to make your life simpler, Kokopelli offers frozen take-home entrees and soups. This is a growing business for them and Hotz promises it “tastes just like it would at home, if you had the time to make it yourself.” Their macaroni and cheese and chicken pot pie are very popular. They also sell frozen scones that you simply pop in your oven and take credit for – it can be your little secret. Delgado and Hotz take great pride in everything that they serve and believe “if it’s not good enough for us, it’s not good enough for you.”

Hotz has a degree in food and hotel management, and comes from a marketing and consulting background. Delgado has a background in business. Hotz is full of praise for Delgado’s culinary skills. She believes Delgado’s love of baking and food preparation breeds great food, and the business partners look for those same qualities in their kitchen staff. They have found those attributes in culinary trained Heather Eddy, who runs the kitchen along with the rest of the team. As well, several employees work behind the counter in this busy cafe.

Delgado and Hotz delight in giving back to their community through volunteer work. Both of them are actively involved with their children’s schools. In addition, Hotz has been a board member with Dunbar Village Business Association since its inception five years ago. They both believe strongly in this community which feels like a small town where people know and care about each other.

What Delgado and Hotz offer Dunbar is exemplified by the story of a customer who was expecting her first baby. She did not know anyone in the community until she discovered Kokopelli and became a regular customer. She made friends through the cafe, and was deeply appreciative for Kokopelli’s existence. It is stories like these that Delgado and Hotz find deeply gratifying.

The namesake behind the business, Kokopelli, the south-western flute playing deity who spreads joy to people, has certainly infused himself within the walls of this warm and homelike cafe. Delgado and Hotz, your mission has been accomplished.

Kokopelli Cafe
4593 Dunbar Street

Bean Around the World

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Bean Around the World is a neighbourhood coffee house buzzing with energy. Tan Tran, the charming owner with a warm and welcoming smile, has put his personal stamp on his coffee shop. With its mustard and red accent walls, black wainscoting, eclectic artwork, and a cozy corner with two chairs to snuggle up in beside a gas fireplace, complete with a chess board and a bookshelf which is a lending library, the atmosphere evokes the feeling of an inviting living room.

Tran opened Bean Around the World in May 2005. He felt that the south end of Dunbar was in need of a coffee house, and he particularly liked the idea of being in a community where people could walk to his business from their homes.  In addition, he was attracted to the building that houses Bean Around the World.  His diverse customer base includes everyone from bus drivers, to teachers, police officers, students, and construction workers.  Over the years Tran has shared some important milestones with his customers as they have welcomed new babies, students have headed off to university, and families have moved in and out of the community.


There are currently twenty one Bean Around the World locations in British Columbia. Each coffee house is independently owned and operated, allowing owners, like Tran, to personalize their business, and not convey a cookie cutter feeling.  The common denominator is the coffee. Coffee beans are centrally roasted in North Vancouver and are supplied to Bean Around the World coffee shops.

Tran describes his business as a hybrid coffee house/bistro. Beer and wine is available at lunch.  The creative menu has the ability to make you smile before you even taste the food.  Try not to grin when you order a Gobbler sandwich (artisan pecan/craisin bread, with smoked turkey, red onions, garlic butter, honey Dijon and cheddar) or the Chickalish wrap (chicken, masala, lentil, curry).  Other temptations include the divine Namaste sandwich (marinated grilled veggies, pesto sauce, provolone and smoked gouda) as well as the Spirit Park muffin (made with spelt flour), carrot cake, squares, breakfast sandwiches and on the day that I was there, African Safari soup.  The wheat free and gluten free pastries are very popular items.

Tran comes to the world of coffee from a diverse background, having worked in a variety of fields including the food and beverage industry, insurance, Information Technology (IT), importing Asian groceries and goods, and as a paralegal. Tran is well travelled and has witnessed coffee culture in many parts of the world.   Born in Vietnam, he spent his childhood in Hong Kong, Winnipeg and Vancouver. As an adult he lived in Montreal for a few years, but was drawn back to the West Coast.

His decision to open Bean Around the World stemmed from a desire for a new life style. He is a self-described “people person”, and his goal is to bring happiness and laughter to his customers. Judging by the full tables, and the satisfied look on his customers’ faces, Tran has worked his magic.  He has a strong social conscience, he is doing his part to keep his business ethical, and he is committed to fair trade.  Tran is quick to give credit to his staff of seven who are an asset to the business. They contribute to the welcoming environment, and enjoy working at the busy coffee shop.

He gauges the success of his business by the loyalty and continued support of his customers; many treat the coffee shop as their second home.  It is open seven days a week and on weekdays you can grab your first eye opening coffee as early as 6 a.m. (weekends 7 a.m.). The shop is open until 6 p.m. nightly.  Bean Around the World supports local fundraising and charity events through the donation of coffee.
In December 2011, Tran opened his second business, Blaq Sheep Coffee House & Bistro, in Yaletown.  He splits his time between the two businesses; however Dunbar customers are sure to see him each day.   He lives in the Dunbar area and not surprisingly Tran’s favourite thing about the community is the people.

Coffee is one of my greatest indulgences, and I attest that Bean Around the World makes a fine cup of coffee, and furthermore, Tran made good on his promise; I walked out the door with a smile on my face.

5601 Dunbar Street

by Sarah Gordon, photos by Sandra Steier