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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:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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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5 Restaurants and a New Year in Surrey!

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Afghan Kitchen, Surrey BC.

Another new year approaches: Surrey 2022 here we go! But with the new Covid restrictions, where are you going to enjoy this Friday night, whether you intend to celebrate New Years Eve or just celebrate because it’s Friday? 

We have a list, albeit a short one, of restaurants that are open on New Year’s Eve.

Dominion Bar & Kitchen, Surrey BC | Instagram post.

Open until midnight. Reservations are recommended but not a must. This Surrey restaurant is well known for their Canadian dishes, complemented by an exciting list of cocktails, BC wines, and local craft beer, in an open concept restaurant with high top tables and chairs. Bones: they will be offering an all day happy hour on Friday.

The Clayton, Surrey BC | Instagram posts.

Open until 2am. The Clayton is a unique choice. Although there will not be a party they do have a DJ, along with classic tasty Canadian dishes and appetizers, plus 3 incredible fire tables available in their fully covered & heated patio spaces. Also, they have a ton of drink specials, just in case you might be drinking responsibly during your visit.

The Cabin, Crescent Beach – Surrey BC | Pan-seared halibut, Instagram Post

Open until 10pm. Featuring a $60 New Year’s Eve menu, The Cabin is a solid choice for a Pacific Northwest experience featuring seafood, “AAA” steaks, gourmet pasta, local craft beers, and a healthy selection of wine. It should be noted, as of right now, 7:30pm onwards is fully booked, however we’ve been told there might be some cancellations. You can and should put your name on the waitlist.

Afghan Kitchen, Surrey BC

Open until 10pm. Featuring traditional Afghan cuisine. If you live in Surrey, you know this place is amazing. If you don’t, that’s ok, just watch this episode about them on CBC Vancouver’s YouTube. Mom’s cooking never tasted better. Now, perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Nothing special here, where’s the party!?” however, since many restaurants are closing early this year, and especially living in one of the most diverse cities in BC, what better way to enjoy your end of year than with a local culinary “staycation” at one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants!

With that said, last but not least by any means:

Kathmandu Bar & Grill, Surrey BC | Instagram post.

Open until 1130pm. Serving a delicious blend of Nepalese, Indo-Chinese, and Western Cuisine. Like we said, while in Surrey, try something new. Allow your tastebuds to create a mini celebration for you, safely at your table.

Have we helped? We certainly hope so! 

No matter how you plan to enjoy this Friday December 31, stay safe, stay warm and we wish, as always, the very best for you and your family.

 

See you next year!

Desire Kokuvi Amouzou

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Food & Drink

3 Must Have Winter Treats for Surrey!

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Gulab Jamin being served up at Maharaja Sweets in the Payal Centre, Surrey BC, photo by Desire Amouzou.

Some might say, there is nothing better in the world than being outdoors enjoying freshly poured maple syrup snow candy coupled with that crisp smell of winter in the air, and a log cabin surrounded in a forest of snow and maple trees. Definitely some might say this, if they lived in Montreal. 

But for us, living on the West Coast known for our rain and most recently our atmospheric rivers, this is likely the last thing on our minds.

Rest assured though, Surrey has memories to be made with the treats we share during the winter. 

Here are just 3 treats of many!

First on the list, one that makes a healthy appearance starting around September in particular and might be difficult to find through the month of December but is worth the hunt: 

Crinkle cookies!

A variety of crinkle cookies, Image by cravingforcrave.com

These cookies are very often a hit during the winter months, especially but not exclusively in our Filipino community. 

Why are they called crinkle cookies? Well, because they’re crinkly of course! But more accurately because of their slightly hard-covered exterior, which is cracked through the baking process then covered in a tasty icing sugar. The moist tasty brownie style interior is revealed in the cracks of the cookies creating a winter wonderland map. Popular flavours are chocolate, ube and red velvet. The chocolate is Christa Jance’s favourite, co-owner and crinkle cookie baker for the local Surrey business Craving For Crave. Check for them online in January, they go quick!

Chocolate crinkle cookies, Image by cravingforcrave.com

Second on the list, but equally as tasty and doesn’t need much introduction:

Panettone!

Flamigni brand panettone in store display at Delitalia Fine Foods, Image by Delitalia’s Instagram

This is an Italian type of sweet bread, said to have originated from Milan, and possibly having  roots to the Roman Empire, made for emperors, a bread sweetened with honey. Panettone is also very common throughout South America and hence throughout Surrey you are likely to find it at many winter gatherings. Very often given and received as gifts, and it’s no surprise as these delectables are often packed into stunning decorative, branded packages.

Assortment of Panettone at Delitalia Fine Foods in Surrey BC, image by Delitalia’s Instagram.

Flavoured with lemon zest, orange zest and candied fruit and raisins, Panettone can be found at either your local London Drugs, Costco or, if you want to try a rich variety, some flavoured with different types of liquor and beautifully handmade from Italy, then you must visit Romolo and his Mother Penny, owners of Delitalia Fine Foods. Let Romolo talk you through all of the varieties!  

Toast it, butter it, and enjoy it with a hot beverage of your choice!

Now, last but not least, and not as widely known as you might think, but absolutely respected and loved throughout Surrey: 

 

Gulab jamun!

Originating in India and declared the national dessert of Pakistan, by the Government of Pakistan, this milk-solid-based sweet derives its name from the Persian words gol, meaning flower, and ãb meaning water, referring to the rose water-syrup it sits in (flavoured also with Saffron or Kewra and Green Cardamom).

Jamun is the Hindi word for an Indian fruit similar in shape and size to gulab jamun, known to most as a black plum. 

Gulab Jamun soaked in honey rose-water, Maharaja Sweets – Surrey BC, Image by Desire Amouzou

Note, gulab, or the sugar syrup this fried tasty ball of beautiful dough is lovingly soaked in, for some recipes, can also be replaced with slightly diluted maple syrup. Full circle! 

It’s amazing served hot during cold weather, the dough melting in your mouth, and even better if it’s complemented with some ice cream. 

 

So where can you get this amazing treat you ask? 

Maharaja Sweets & Restaurant, Payal Centre, Surrey BC, image by Desire Amouzou

Pretty much anywhere in Surrey, BC. In fact we might have to save space for an article on the various places you can secure some. But for now, do yourself a favour and get out to the Payal Business Centre, a home to so many sweet shops with a rich assortment of Gulab Jamun. It’s not the only location by any means, but it’s a good start. One amazing spot in the centre well known in our community has to be Maharaja Sweets & Restaurant. Really, you need to go if you haven’t already!

 

You can purchase it packaged, but it truly is best enjoyed freshly made. 

In the end, whatever treat you grace your home with, perhaps all of them, we hope you are able to share them with the ones you love!

 

Desiré Kokuvi Amouzou,

Surrey604

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Food & Drink

The five best restaurants and bars in Central Surrey

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If you thought you had to make the trek to Downtown Vancouver just to eat well, think again. There are pockets of great places to eat right here in Surrey’s City Centre. Check out this list of five of the best restaurants and bars to get your fill of good eats in Central Surrey. 

Central City Taphouse & Kitchen 

The Central City Taphouse is a staple, and one that truly caters to everyone. It lands consistently at the top of any Surrey eatery list and offers everything from brunch to pub-style food and drinks, including happy (or “tappy”) hour specials. Enjoy a warm meal with family or watch the game with friends. The large patio, beautiful courtyard, and excellent food are destined to provide you with the perfect ambiance. 

Address: 13450 102 Ave., Unit 190 

Dominion Bar & Kitchen 

For those looking for a truly “downtown” experience, this place is the top choice. From bunch, lunch, dinner, and late night mixers, Dominion Bar has a modern vibe and locally sourced ingredients that shine both in menu and drinks. Trendy, socially on-point, and providing a timeless dining experience with a mix of influences, this place is a must when you’re planning your night out. 

Address: 13475 Central Ave., Unit D1

Bubble 88 

For the last decade, Bubble 88 has been able to provide a trendy yet authentic flair of Taiwanese cuisine to Surrey. Easily one of the best bistros in the area, the chefs make each dish with passion and the presentation makes it just as beautiful as it is delicious. Of course, as you may have guessed by the name, bubble tea is also available. 

Address: #102-10209 King George Blvd.

Neptune Seafood Restaurant 

Although it is not unique to Surrey, the quality and fine dining provided at this Asian restaurant cannot go without being mentioned. With the best dim sum and arguably the best Chinese cuisine within Surrey, a large dining space, and the ability to host events, Neptune Seafood is worth adding to your foodie bucket list. Neptune has won several awards for their restaurant group, and of course for their dim sum as well. 

Address: 1130-10153 King George Blvd. 

Sumerian Grill 

Perhaps considered a hidden gem to some, Sumerian Grill is often highly rated amongst those that have visited the restaurant. Providing Middle Eastern cuisine, the meals are rich in flavour and full of warmth. The menu offers the best in Surrey for Iraqi and Turkish dishes and wraps with colours of the Mediterranean. 

Address: 10671A King George Blvd. 

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The five best spots to grab a coffee in Surrey Centre

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Sipping on a delicious coffee at a local cafe has a certain allure to it. And enjoying a local business, with a friend or alone, is extra special when it’s close to home and has that neighbourhood feel. When it comes to Surrey Centre or Guildford, these are the best coffee spots to check out.

Cafe Central

The most central you can get with a friendly vibe and some really good coffee. Cafe Central is the perfect stop on a busy day, to work, or school, or a break in between. While mostly being a “to-go” cafe, it does have tables and chairs for those who wish to stay a while. Located central, it also has hosts of convenience items and food. What people seem to enjoy most though is the caramel frappuccino.

Address: 10350 University Drive, City Centre Library

Prado

If you love coffee, then you will love Prado which uses coffee roasted by 49th Parallel. It first opened in Vancouver and has grown to multiple locations, including this Central Surrey spot. The place is vibrant and hosts a number of good eats and drinks and teal seats for a modern vibe. Outside of your regular items you will find things like pastel pink beetroot latte, citrus cake, apricot cookie, or the infamous cookie with no name.

Address: 13475 103 Avenue, Civic Plaza hotel

Stuffies Pastries

This cafe is better known for its stuffed pastries that are shaped like cute animals, than its coffee. Patrons can choose to stuff the pastries with a number of fillings such as Nutella, vanilla, dulce de leche and more. The soft pancake filled treats are enticing enough to make anyone check out this cafe. Located inside the Guildford Town Centre, it may not be a place to sit down and enjoy but it is a great spot to grab and go while in the mall.

Address: 10355 152 Street, Guildford Town Centre

Coffee Monster

Coffee Monster is a true coffee shop with interesting and delicious menu items ensuring there is something for everyone. Whether you are craving one of their signature cold beverages (such as frozen chocolate) or their Spanish latte, the drinks alone make this a great spot. However, the cafe is also known for its pastries, cakes, waffles and dessert treats like earl grey crème brulee. The vibe is relaxing and the menu is creative.

Address: 15285 101 Avenue, Suite C1B

Happy Jack’s Cafe

Known for its friendly staff, Happy Jack’s Cafe is a hidden gem in the area with delicious food and flavoured coffees. Plus, the brunch-like items — think blueberry pancakes — make it a perfect place to meet a friend and enjoy an afternoon together.

Address: 110-10470 152 Street

Do you know of any other locally-owned cafes in Surrey Centre that we have to try? Let us know at info@surrey604.com. 

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Food & Drink

7-Eleven Announces Sev’s 360 Summer Roll With Us Campaign

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7-Eleven Canada Announces “Sev’s 360 Summer – Roll With Us” Campaign Coming To Your Neighbourhood. Get ready for exclusive Slurpee and skateboarding events, contests and giveaways, all summer long.

7-Eleven Canada announces their summer schedule filled with events, contests, and giveaways designed for Slurpee, skateboard, and summer lovers.

In celebration of the partnership with Canada Skateboard and the National Team, Sev’s 360 Summer – Roll With Us Campaign invites fans to take a front-row seat to Canada Skateboard experiences and chances to win awesome swag and prizes.

7-Eleven Canada will be giving away one skateboard deck a day all summer long, exclusively to 7Rewards members.

Norman Hower, Vice President and General Manager of 7-Eleven Canada, says: “This year continues to be challenging for many Canadians and our goal is to provide ways to make this summer enjoyable and easy for all.

As Canadians head out to the beaches and parks to make the most of the outdoors, they can have meals, snacks, and drinks delivered to wherever they may be, or available to pick up on the go, and Sev’s 360 Summer Roll With Us campaign will add extra fun to the occasion.”

7Rewards members can enter for a chance to win by scanning 7Rewards with every purchase or placing an order with 7NOW delivery and can earn an additional 5 entries by scanning partnered products.

Rockstar Energy® Drinks is one of the partnering drinks, along with refreshing Slurpee frozen beverages, Crispy Classic Chicken Sandwiches, Chicken Wings, Fresh from the Oven in Minutes 24/7 Pizzas and delicious snacks like Old Dutch Chips and McSweeney Beef Jerky are also a part of the 7Rewards 360 Summer – Roll With Us contest to keep your summer days fueled.

Only at Sev, fill up an exclusive Canada Skateboard Slurpee Collectible Cup with limited time flavours including; delicious Pink Grapefruit Lemonade, Fanta Dragon Fruit, MTN Dew® Blue Shock ™ and Slurpuccino (yes, it’s back).

For more chances to win great prizes, play the Hide and Seek game on the Canada Skateboard Slurpee Collectible Cups, featuring the 2021 Canada Skateboard National Team, and the Sticker Slap AR game on the 7Rewards app.

Click here to see more details on Sev’s 360 Summer- Roll With Us campaign

To learn more about all the events and contests coming up with Sev’s 360 Summer – Roll With Us campaign, click here or visit 7-Eleven Canada’s Instagram Page.

Customers who are not yet a 7Rewards member can download the 7Rewards app by texting APP to 711247 or sign up.

Fans are also encouraged to check out 7-Eleven Canada’s new 7Now® Delivery App, where Canadians can get 24/7 around the clock pick-up and delivery within 30 minutes on groceries, necessities, meals, snacks, drinks and treats – like Slurpee drinks.

Every order through 7Now is one automatic entry in the 360 Summer – Roll With Us contest and with over 900 items to choose from, members will earn 7Rewards points with every order.

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