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'It seemed like a perfect fit': Popular Strathcona market-cafe revived after 2023 closure

Don't worry, those Portuguese tarts are coming back

Like a phoenix with new ownership, Strathcona's Union Market is rising again.

The popular neighbourhood shop and cafe closed in October of 2023 after more than three decades at 810 Union St. as the Bernardino family decided to move on.

However, almost six months later, the doors are set to reopen soon (with a soft open).

The perfect fit

Aman Loodu (who's spent 20 years in the hospitality industry, has experience in Vancouver's beer scene, and ran his own "nanobakery" for a while) has stepped in. He'd been keeping an eye out for something like this for a while.

"I’ve been looking for a place for a long time, always thinking about what would suit me," he tells V.I.A. in a message. "I thought a tiny cafe would’ve been perfect for me but I realized (after making a bid for one) that I wouldn’t be able to make enough cookies or bread or pizzas, etc. in a limited space."

"Then I searched for a medium-sized cafe but rents are too high in this city."

That's when Union Market came on the market.

"It seemed like a perfect fit, especially since I cycle too," Loodu explains. "I think the combination of coffee, cookies, bread, and snacks work better in neighbourhood spots like Union Market."

He and his wife already enjoyed visiting similar places around town, like the Federal Store, so things lined up nicely. The quiet street on a major cycling route appealed as well, giving people a spot to stop for snacks and meet with friends.

Union Market will offer 'some of the best cookies in the city'

Given that it's the same name but new ownership, one might expect something similar but not entirely the same. And that's what's happening.

"We’ll bring back the old Union Market favourite, the pastel de natas (Portuguese custard tarts), and will add in what I hope are some of the best cookies in the city," describes Loodu.

Most of the pastries and snacks will be made in-house and from scratch.

During the pandemic, he spent time learning a few new skills. One was working out a buckwheat chocolate chip recipe (it took four months to get it just right) and another was a lava cake-like double chocolate cookie.

Coffee and tea in the cafe and on the market shelves

The new cafe owner also taught himself latte art during that same time, after buying an espresso machine instead of travelling.

"We’re also serving Modus Coffee and Cultivate Tea," notes Loodu. Union Market will have those brands for sale on the retail side, too.

There will also be some groceries, but mostly the basics, he adds.

Loodu tells V.I.A. customers will find the new Union Market in a "soft open" mode starting the weekend of May 25.

For the foreseeable future, Union Market will be open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). The goal is to be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., says Loodu.

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