Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

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

Dunbar Pizza and Grill

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Where Italy Meets India

Dunbar Pizza Jasvir Nandda Dunbar LifeJasvir Nandda is the jovial owner of Dunbar Pizza, a business he has proudly run for 17 years. The menu is as unique as the inviting aroma of pizza and Indian cuisine, which mingle and fill the air. Nandda’s genuine warmth makes you feel like you have stepped into his home kitchen.

Don’t be surprised if he calls you “my friend” as that is what you will quickly become when you converse.

Up front the establishment is small, with a window counter and seating for a handful of people. Behind the scenes the deep restaurant houses pizza ovens, walk in coolers, a big gas stove and more fry pans and pizza boxes than you can shake a stick at.

Nandda is originally from the city of Jalandhar, located in the state of Punjab, India where several generations of his family, dating back to his grandfather, worked in the restaurant industry. Their specialty was Indian food and sweets. His father and uncle worked as cooks, although he points out his mother’s important role was to be the “home boss.”

In 1993 Nandda moved to Canada to join relatives here. He loves his life in his adopted country and does not miss the pollution or the hot climate he left behind. He also appreciates how safe Canada is in comparison.

After working in various professions he decided to take a risk and open his own business based on his experience as a cook. He thanks a friend of his brother-in-law for encouraging him to purchase a pizza business.

Why set up shop in Dunbar? He explains it took time to find the right location. Two attempts to lease businesses in North Vancouver and New Westminster fell through, and then one day he was visiting Dunbar and spotted a for rent sign in the window. He had finally found a home for his business, which was formerly a pizza restaurant.

Capital outlay for equipment was a consideration when he started out and therefore he started only making pizza. Two years later he introduced Indian food to the menu. He started slowly. Samosas were the first item to debut. A clever marketer, when customers would purchase a pizza Nandda would tempt them with a couple of complimentary samosas.

Today his Indian food is as popular as his pizza. Customers go wild for his butter chicken in addition to the lamb korma and spinach lamb. Those items are only the tip of the iceberg; the Indian menu features appetizers (pakoras, samosas), lamb, chicken and a good selection of vegetarian dishes. Tandoori breads (naan, parantha and roti) and a number of biryani rice dishes round out the Indian menu.

Flip the menu and a long list of pizzas can be found ranging from the Dunbar Special to international salutes to India, Italy and Greece. Nandda says the most popular choices are the Canadian, butter chicken and Hawaiian pizza.

High school students are big fans of Dunbar Pizza. They sweep in during lunch hour and after school for pizza by the slice.

Special prices on pizza by the slice (based on volume) make a meal even more enticing with a can of pop included to sweeten the deal.

Remarkably, in addition to pizza and Indian food Nandda also offers Greek and Italian cuisine. Craving souvlaki, spaghetti, lasagna or barbeque baby ribs? No worries, he has you covered.

“We are so lucky to have so many culinary options in this multicultural city.” Jasvir Nandda

What does he enjoy most about the business? He says eating what he cooks ranks high on the list. He enjoys the variety of pizza and Indian food and says he doesn’t have a favourite dish.

Dunbar Pizza exterior Dunbar LifeHis customers make the long hours well worth it. Many of them are locals and have been supporting his business for years. When people call him for deliveries (a big part of his business) often he is so well acquainted with them that he knows their order. He says some customers will even let him select on their behalf.

Living in Surrey means long days for this hard working business owner. The restaurant is open seven days a week until late at night. Nandda likes to spend his limited free time with his wife and two teenagers. Vacations don’t happen often, in fact it was three years ago that he was last in India.

With a smile on his face, Nandda concludes,” I am born to work.” Based on the pizzas that my children tried and gave two thumbs up, I would also add he was born to cook. I will be back to try the Indian fare.

Dunbar Pizza & Grill
3348 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2C1
Telephone 604-732-4999