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When I was 5, it was everything I could do to keep myself up on my tippy toes long enough to edge 50 cents across the tall deli counter at Lonsdale Quay. My reward? Two big colossal olives in a small plastic bag tied with a red twist tie. My dad was a commercial fisherman and sold spot prawns and salmon to local markets, so I’ve been visiting both the Granville and Lonsdale Quay market since I was young.
Opening my first business here was surreal in the months leading up to opening in April 2015. The first year is now a distant blur of memories, having jumped into a life as a entrepreneur with no real idea of what that actually meant. Now that my little pizza shop is turning three I’m resurfacing and finding the time to explore this invigorating and bustling little community that is undergoing a major restructuring that can’t be ignored. You can find construction on every block in various states of upheaval, but it feels good and it feels right.
This neighbourhood is industrious by nature, and was the largest shipyards on the West Coast for much of the twentieth century. While shipping companies actively utilize much of the waterscape, both the Foot of Lonsdale and the Shipyards are starting to take shape. The Lonsdale Quay Market is slated for an exterior and interior redesign and should be well underway by 2019. New condo towers are slowly nearing completion and fresh faces are moving into the neighbourhood. They are moving into a diverse and walkable community with plenty of family-run businesses that are often operated by an owner (or owners), letting residents know exactly who they are supporting when they choose to shop with independents.
Starting at the far east end of Esplanade opposite the Grain Elevators you will find a strip of auto body shops which now include the popular Griffin’s Boxing club, a beautiful wooden window display that houses Van Urban Timberworks showroom, and some pretty tasty small batch craft brew at Beere (insiders tip: this isn’t just a creative spelling, it’s a last name and the family also owns the timber company upstairs). Inching towards Lonsdale you will find the Juicery, a small playground and a community garden.
Once you step onto Lonsdale, the food options are plenty; Anatolis is a long established neighbourhood favorite and a spot I have been bringing my grandparents to for years. Services like salons and spas are scattered throughout the community and a great place to get your groove on. There’s ample places to sweat; hot yoga at Moksha, a spin class at one of the three studios in the hood, or a Sunday night yin at Rasa Flow. Moving down towards the Seabus, you will find the Soup Meister where you can stock up for rainy days, a quarter pizza with us at Bowen Island Pizza Co. will run you the best $5 lunch on the North Shore (note: I may be biased), and a vanilla bean coffee bun right by the Seabus will have you hooked for life.
With a newly formed BIA helping to connect businesses and support community initiatives, this Spring the neighbourhood will see a new brand woven throughout the community by way of aesthetically pleasing street banners that both reflect the vibe of the hood and highlight the hardworking history of the area. Between the Lonsdale Quay, BIA sponsored events and the Friday Night Market, this summer is shaping up to be fun for everyone.
Melanie is the owner of Bowen Island Pizza Co. She grew up on Bowen Island and currently resides in Vancouver. A foodie from birth, Melanie spent her 20’s earning a masters degree studying the cognitive skills needed to increase internal motivation before turning her side hustle into her full time hustle and joining the food scene. When she’s not working, you can find her camping and hunting, travelling & eating pizza.