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Table Beer Launch Prompting Important Tables-Side Conversations

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It all began with a Facebook post on February 1st 2018. Shoel Davidson used the #BellLetsTalk platform and campaign in displaying immense amount of vulnerability and courage through a social media post sharing his ongoing challenges surrounding mental health, and sharing the compassion and willingness to help others experiencing the same. It was this post which inspired the beginning of Mind The Bar.

Shoel Davidson, Successful Vancouver-based Restaurateur, and hospitality industry veteran of 20+ years, started as a dishwasher, and worked his way through every aspect of the restaurant scene. “I’ve battled with my mental health throughout my life, including struggling with depression & suicide during my teens, depression & anxiety as an adult, as well as often resorting to alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with my mental health throughout my hospitality career up until a few years ago.”

In 2017, Davidson recalls a series of events in both his personal and professional life which resulted in heightened depression and anxiety levels – leading him to consider taking an extreme measure – his own life. “It was here that I realized I wasn’t okay and that I needed help.” Davidson continues by saying, “I was (and am) very fortunate to have an amazing circle of loved ones, friends and family around me that supported me in this. However I had a lot of difficulty finding the information, resources, and professional help I needed.”

This moment of realization and self-awareness prompted the start of a journey that led him to be inspired to do something about it, and make a difference towards others sharing similar experiences as himself – especially those working in the industry. Davidson also expresses that at this time he was eager to investigate and find “alternatives towards a more positive lifestyle within the industry that didn’t resort or revolve around the normalized substance abuse that persists within it.” 

“I brought the seed of an idea to my business partner, Christina Cottell, which I’ve opened both Gringo Gastown (6 years ago) and Dixie’s BBQ (3 years ago) with. She was incredibly supportive and urged me on.

This led to my starting a conversation among a select few friends and peers within the hospitality industry, many of whom would later become the founding members of Mind The Bar, about my vision and how change might occur.”

“The enthusiasm and synergy around what we were trying to do was truly special, and we quickly built the initial framework of the Foundation as well as short and long-term goals we hoped to achieve” says Davidson. The goal of Mind The Bar is to operate as an intermediary in connecting people wishing to seek support such as through counselling within the mental health sector.

The intent is to “establish a vetted shortlist of mental health professionals who are interested in working with the Foundation, who offer an affordable sliding scale fee, and [whom] ideally have some background or understanding of the hospitality industry.” Fast forward only a few months after the initial brainstorms and discussions had commenced, and the Mind The Bar Foundation was officially recognized under the BC Societies Act in September 2018. Now registered under the BC Societies Act, the Foundation’s intention is to work with and provide information and assistance to everyone within the hospitality industry throughout British Columbia.

“Mental health is something that affects us all, regardless of where we live, and it is therefore our goal to assist in establishing associated division of the Foundation within each district that will be overseen and governed by local representation. Surrey has a massive and proudly diverse hospitality community that we are already beginning to work with at a grassroots level” Davidson explains.  

Russell Breweries staff, Jimmy Darbyshire and Doug Embury, had known Davidson, and his business partner, Cottell for a few years as they had been an account of the brewery with their Gringo restaurant. The Russell Breweries pair heard about the launch of the Mind The Bar project and saw it as an opportunity to help. “Jimmy & Doug were incredibly supportive of the initiative from the beginning & were very eager to get involved however possible” explained Davidson.

“They (Darbyshire and Embury) approached Christina and I shortly after our launch event about creating a beer specifically for raising funds for Mind The Bar. After speaking with the Board of Directors I told them that if they were going to make an officially collaborative beer it would have to be (a) low-ABV/alcohol, to assist with reducing excessive drinking within the hospitality community, (b) inexpensive, because we wanted it to be affordably available to everyone no matter how limited their budget may be, and (c) very drinkable, because we wanted it to be easily enjoyed by everyone. The boys at Russell took these ‘guidelines’ and their MTB Belgian table beer was the end result.”

When asked why they chose this particular beer for the collaboration, Russell Breweries Darbyshire explains how “the “Table Beer” was very fitting as that is where a lot of conversation happens, at the table.

It drove home the idea that we need to talk about the problems our industry is currently facing.” “I think it speaks for itself that they knocked it out of the park on this one, and the sales tell me I’m not wrong” says Davidson about the low alcohol alternative that is helping bring awareness and raising money.

To learn more about the Mind The Bar initiative, check out their website here. Although the website is currently under construction due to the mass amount of information, resources, and hours required to go-live, you can still find information on certain resources and information on how to get involved. Although an official ‘go-live’ date cannot be confirmed at this time, Davidson confirms that they are working as hard as they can in order to launch a functional ‘Phase I’ stage of the website very soon.

The goal is to have the initial launch assist people in better navigating pertinent resources and information such as requesting assistance in finding mental health professionals, and information on the Foundation itself – how to volunteer or become a member. “The website will be constantly evolving as we gather more information, resources, feedback, and as the Foundation and mental health awareness within the hospitality industry grows” explains Davidson.

What’s most amazing about the evolution of this Foundation in such a short time is that all of the “the recognition and reputation surrounding Mind The Bar has spread solely by word of mouth. Initially, within the immediate Vancouver hospitality community following our launch in June 2018, then gaining international attention after our first place win in the 2018 Tahona Society’s Collective Spirit Competition” recalls Davidson.

In addition, Davidson adds that the amount of popularity and support the Mind The Bar Foundation has received has “a lot to do with the overall and increasing readiness of the hospitality industry, and society in general is to acknowledge the subject of mental health, and the desire to breakdown the stigma surrounding it.”

“When we first began speaking about some of the struggles we expected to encounter introducing Mind The Bar to the Vancouver and BC based hospitality industry, we believed it would take us at least a few years to convince our peers and the greater restaurant community that not only was there an egregious problem with mental health, addiction and workplace harassment within our industry but that it was long overdue to change the mentality and perspective around it.

What we discovered is not only were we wrong about how many were ready to listen and get involved in making a positive change but the amount of praise we received for ‘finally’ doing something about it” says Davidson. Russell Brewery began with two brothers in 1995, back when craft breweries were next to none. As one of the original 10 craft breweries in BC, they put Surrey on the map as being an early leader in the craft brewery scene.

Now, Russell Brewery has not only successfully passed the test of time over two decades, but has continued to grow and prosper amongst the 200+ breweries province-wide! They even underwent a rebrand over the past two years and freshened up and diversified not only their branding, but their beer offerings as well! “We have since traded hands a few times [since launching in 1995], but our mission is still the same – to offer innovative and exciting Craft Beer to this ever-evolving market” says Darbyshire.

“Although presently, Mind The Bar official membership is still limited to its original founding members, we have dozens of individuals who have been volunteering their time and assisting us with numerous facets of the Foundation as we continue to build the initial framework necessary to best utilize the skills and enthusiasm of new membership. Something we will be doing within the immediate next few weeks is the preparation for our upcoming AGM” says Davidson.

Davidson continues, “There’s still a long road ahead but something I’m most excited about it this next chapter when we can finally open the doors to new members.”

As for the Russell Brewery beer collaboration – you may be wondering, will this beer be continuously sold or is it a campaign with a closed-frame of time? Darbyshire says “We would love this to be an ongoing campaign. I think there is lots of opportunity to build on what we have already started.” And with an additional $6,000+ aimed to fundraise through the collaboration prior to year-end, time to buy to support an amazing cause! Partial proceeds from each 4-pack and keg sold will be donated directly to Mind The Bar Canada. For a list of the 300+ locations currently carrying the beer (to consume on tap or to purchase), check out the list here.

To follow Russell Brewing Company, check them out on their affiliated pages:

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Robyn is a status-quo disruptor, an old-soul, and has a serious passion towards continuous learning driven by a curiosity for the unknown. A creative and equally analytical thinker with experience in leadership, project management and marketing strategy. When she’s not working you can find her in the kitchen, searching for new music, or meandering local thrift stores, antique stores, or flea markets for a unique find.

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This Surrey cafe offers a delicious Bombay brunch

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Bandra Cafe
Marco Ovies / Surrey604

Tucked away on the edge of the Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre is Bandra Cafe, one of the best places for brunch in Surrey. It offers unique menu items that are not only full of flavour but are pretty just to look at. If you’re looking for something different than your basic pancake breakfast, this is the place for you. 

Bandra Cafe serves Bombay-style cuisine that is chock full of flavour and spice. On our visit, we ordered the Bandra Benny and it did not disappoint. Just like your standard eggs Benedict it came with poached eggs, bacon, and hollandaise sauce, but was served on top of chili-cheese toast. It gave it the perfect kick that you wouldn’t normally find in an eggs Benedict, setting Bandra Cafe apart from all the other brunch spots in the city. On the side, there were crispy potato wedges and some sliced avocado. 

Bandra Cafe

Bandra Benny (Marco Ovies / Surrey604)

We also ordered their dalgona coffee, which we had never tried before. It came with whipped coffee on top of steamed milk. Our waiter politely helped us out and instructed us that we needed to stir the drink (we had just gone right in for the sip and it left us with a coffee mustache that wasn’t noticeable until we got home). The drink both looked impressive and tasted great. 

Bandra Cafe

Dalgona coffee (Marco Ovies / Surrey604)

But Bandra Cafe doesn’t just do eggs Benedict. They also serve kanda poha (a popular Bombay breakfast with flattened rice, onions, peanuts, herbs, and spices, topped with coconut and sev), Kheema Par Eedu Skillet (kheema, potato salli, fried eggs, and pav bread, described on the menu as the “Bombay breakfast of champions”), and even a vegan platter (avocado, grilled tofu, vegetables, and salad with tahini almond dressing). You can also order small bites and drinks to share if you’re coming to visit later in the evening with friends. 

The cafe itself is very modern looking with a plant wall at the entrance with a neon sign that reads “Good Brews, Good Bites.” The service was excellent and we’re excited to go back again to try the rest of their menu. 

Bandra Cafe is open Monday to Thursday from 11am to 10pm, and Friday to Sunday from 11am to 11pm. 

Bandra Cafe

 

Address: 7310 #110 120th St.

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6 of the best sushi restaurants in Surrey

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best sushi restaurants in Surrey
Sushi from Sushi California and Sushi Street (@sushicalifornia_surrey; @sushistreet_surrey / Instagram)

There are so many different sushi spots in Surrey that sometimes it can be hard to choose. That’s why we’ve created a list of the best sushi restaurants in Surrey to satisfy your next sushi craving. 

 

MaguroGuy Sushi and Grill

 

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MaguroGuy has an excellent assortment of sushi and delicious Japanese dishes. We’d recommend visiting for their lunch special Udon Set which comes with a dynamite roll, tuna, salmon, and ebi nigiri, tempura, Seafood udon (small), and a green salad.

 

Sushi Mori

What makes Sushi Mori so special? Well for starters there is a tree in the middle of the restaurant. They also make some great sushi and have plenty of specialty rolls to try like their Spicy Sunflower Roll which has crab meat, cucumber, avocado, and prawn tempura covered with spicy salmon and topped with tempura flakes, shredded red beet, spicy mayo, and aioli sauce.

 

Kami Sushi 

Kami Sushi is the best place to grab a filling and affordable lunch. The best thing to order is one of their lunch combinations that are available from 11:30 to 3:30 pm. We love their combo B which comes with four pieces of sushi, three pieces of their Reno roll, four pieces of the spicy love roll, and tempura udon for $19.95. You get a great assortment of food for a great price. 

 

Sushi California

Sushi California has a great assortment of different rolls, potentially the largest selection in all of Surrey. They have over 67 different rolls you can choose from, and that’s not even including nigiri or any of the other things on their menu. The only other sushi spot that could compete is the next one on our list. 

 

Psi Sushi & Roll

Psi Sushi & Roll is another Surrey favourite that has plenty on their menu. They also have some very unique rolls like their Flying Unicorn Roll which has crabmeat and cream cheese and is deep fried with melted mozzarella cheese. 

 

Sushi Street

 

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If you’re searching for your next picnic meal look no further than Sushi Street. They offer these sushi boxes that can feed one to four people that are perfect to take with you. We’d recommend trying Street Box #2 which can feed up to four people and has a Crazy Roll, Dragon roll, Dynamite roll, Philadelphia roll, Chicken wings, Edamame, vegetable sticks, and five kinds of special sauce. 

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You can order a whole box of sushi from this Surrey restaurant

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Sushi Street Surrey
Sushi Street serves delicious Japanese takeout by the King George Skytrain Station

If you’re looking for the next great sushi spot, look no further than Sushi Street. Located close to the King George Skytrain Station, this place should be your go-to for sushi takeout. 

Sushi Street specializes in only takeout and offers quick and delicious Japanese cuisine. They specialize in bento boxes, sushi combos, and ready-to-eat foods that you can just grab and go. But probably the coolest thing they offer is their sushi boxes.

 

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You heard right, sushi in a box. They offer two different boxes that can feed anywhere from 1 to 4 people. Their Street Box 1 which can feed one to two people has a crazy roll, Philadelphia roll, dynamite roll, chicken wings, edamame, vegetable sticks, and four kinds of special sauce. 

If you’re looking for more food you can get the Street Box 2 which feeds three to four people and has a crazy roll, dragon roll, dynamite roll, Philadelphia roll, chicken wings, edamame, vegetable sticks, and five kinds of special sauce. This is the perfect meal to grab on your way to a picnic over at Holland Park across the street. 

But don’t worry, you can also order individual rolls if you’re just eating for one. They also serve inari which is sushi rice packed into a tofu pouch topped with all sorts of sushi ingredients. We’d recommend ordering the Inari Unagi or the Inari Spicy Salmon. 

 

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While Sushi Street does specialize in takeout, they do have some seats inside to sit down and enjoy your food. But regardless of whetheryou eat in or take out, we promise you’ll love the food. Be sure to visit this new Surrey hidden gem soon!

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This Surrey restaurant is serving up “monster burgers”

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Fab Burgers
Fab Burgers Inc. makes some of the best burgers in Surrey (@fabburgersinc / Instagram)

Located in the heart of Newton is Fab Burgers Inc., the home of Surrey’s “monster burgers.” What is a monster burger you may ask? Well, it’s about as intimidating as it sounds. 

Fab Burger Inc. has six monster burgers on their menu, and one of their most famous ones is the Fab Meaty Muncher which comes with breaded crispy chicken, a beef patty, chicken bacon, cheddar cheese, purple slaw, pickles, tomatoes, an onion ring, and their signature FAB sauce. It’s piled high and requires some maneuvering to be able to take a bite. 

 

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If that’s still a little too small for you, you can order their Sweet Temptation Burger which comes with three patties of your choice of chicken or beef (yes you heard right, three patties), topped with lettuce, sauteed onions, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and finished with barbeque sauce. It’s the biggest burger on their menu and definitely deserves the name “monster burger.”

But don’t worry, they also serve regular-sized burgers for those who don’t have a monster appetite. The Flamin’ Nacho Burger is a fan favourite and has a beef patty topped with fresh salsa, onions, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole, nacho chips, and topped with cheddar cheese.

 

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If burgers aren’t your thing, Fab Burger Inc. also sells other foods like Chicken and Waffles and BBQ Lamb Chops which are marinated with their in-house blend of seasonings and sauces and served with fries, coleslaw, and a drink.

 

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So whether you’re craving a monster burger, or just want something on the smaller side to eat, Fab Burger Inc. has it all. Be sure to visit the next time you’re craving a good burger. 

Fab Burger Inc.

Address: 7320 King George Blvd #108

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These are the best places to get coffee in Surrey

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best places to get coffee in Surrey
Whether you go to cafés for the atmosphere, food, or coffee, we’re sure there's a café on this list you’ll love. (@coffeemonster_official; @west_village_cafe / Instagram)

You can only drink so much Starbucks before you get sick of it. That’s why we’ve made this list of the best coffee shops in Surrey so you can switch it up. Whether it’s because of the great atmosphere or unique drinks, these are the best places to get coffee in Surrey. 

 

Coffee Monster

If you’re a student in Surrey then you need to visit Coffee Monster. It is the best place to get some late-night studying done. Every table has access to an outlet and it’s open until 10 pm. Plus, they have some delicious drinks like their Spanish Latte which you can order hot or iced. 

 

Bandra Cafe

 

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Bandra Cafe is one of the first Indian-style cafes in the Greater Vancouver area and has some exceptional drinks and eats to show for it. Bandra Cafe tries to copy the vibe of the area in Bombay with the same name by creating a similar atmosphere by having “dark wooden chairs and white table tops” and also by selling “dishes like salli chicken, kheema pan and mawa cake.” This is definitely a very unique cafe that you need to visit. 

 

West Village Cafe

If you’re looking for one of the trendiest cafes in Surrey, then West Village Cafe is the spot for you. With a very clean and minimalistic interior and some fancy food to eat, this might be the fanciest café in Surrey. Not only does West Village Cafe serve your coffee shop classics like lattes and pastries, but they also serve alcoholic drinks and food like tacos, a chimichurri salmon and vegetable bowl, local craft beer on tap, and more! If you’re feeling extra fancy you should head in for one of their Bailey’s coffees. 

 

Espresso Cafe

 

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Espresso Cafe is located in the heart of Newton and has a very homely atmosphere to it. From the fireplace to the home-style baked goods, there is so much to love about Espresso Cafe. We’d recommend ordering one of their filo spinach feta pastries which are delicious. They have an always expanding menu and plenty of specialty drinks on rotation so be sure to visit Espresso Cafe. 

 

The GrassRoots Cafe

The GrassRoots Cafe is a student-owned and operated café located on the Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Surrey campus. They serve “alcoholic beverages and KPU brewed beer on tap, delicious food, snacks, coffee drinks and healthy alternative options such as vegan and gluten-free meals.” They also host a bunch of different activities like slam poetry, movie marathons, and more! Plus, if you’re a KPU student you can get a 5% discount. 

 

Prairie Cafe

 

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When a café has been around since 1949, then you know it has to be good. Prairie Cafe offers some classic vintage breakfast and coffee. They do classic American breakfast as well as Asian dishes like chicken Teriyaki, wonton soup, and chicken pan-fried noodles. If you’re looking for a blast from the past then you need to visit Prairie Cafe. 

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