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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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Food & Drink

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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Food & Drink

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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Food & Drink

You need to visit this new Surrey Mexican restaurant

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Salsa and Guacamole
Salsa and Guacamole serve delicious Mexican classics (@salsa_andguacamole / Instagram)

Located directly under the famous Old Surrey Restaurant is Salsa and Guacamole, Surrey’s new Mexican restaurant. 

If you’re looking for some authentic Mexican delights in a chic and modern atmosphere, then this is the place for you. We’d recommend trying their chilaquiles, which is a recreation of the owner Paola Hein’s grandmother’s recipe. They’re corn tortilla chips dipped in either red or green salsa with melted Tex-Mex cheese and sour cream on top. 

You also can’t go wrong with ordering one of their tortas, which is a sandwich made of a Portuguese bun with the option of chicken or beef and sour cream, cheese, guacamole, mustard and beans. It also comes with a small side of their tortilla soup. 

If you’re not feeling like eating a huge meal, you can opt to just go for drinks at their “Cantina.” Like any good Mexican restaurant, they have an assortment of tequila, but they also have some more interesting creations. We really like Jo’s Margarita which comes with just a touch of tajin. They also make delicious carajillos which are coffee-based drinks mixed with liquor 43 and a splash of milk (the milk is optional). 

But no night of Mexican food is complete without an order of churros, and Salsa and Guacamole does some of the best in Surrey. You can have your churros filled with either Nutella or dulce de leche. While it’s not the most traditional take on churros, you have to admit it’s delicious. 

Salsa and Guacamole got its start as a business selling salsa and guacamole (as the name suggests). But now they’ve expanded to include a wide range of foods, and promise to keep adding to their menu. 

You won’t be disappointed by this new local Surrey restaurant, (we promise) so be sure to try it soon. 

Salsa and Guacamole

Address: 13483 72 ave, Surrey

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Car-Free Day makes its way to Surrey

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There will be plenty of delicious food, music, and family-friendly activities (Josh Howard / Unsplash)

Car-Free Day is coming to Surrey Saturday, June 11. This event will turn 137 street into a car-free paradise with tons of local merchants, musicians, and family-friendly activities. 

Stores that are located alongside 137 street will open up patios onto the street, while there will also be plenty of other vendors and food trucks like Gary’s Kettle Corn, Tornadopotato, Wakwak Burgers, Japadog, JJ’s Hot Cobs, Taco’N Todo, The Little Snowflake Factory, Lemon Heaven, and Roasted Revolution.

This year’s event will host performances by Ashleigh Ball, daysormay, Meltt, NADUH, The Jins, Peak, Á’a:líya, Tess Anderson, DESTINEAK, Vancouver Street Dance Festival, City Entertainment, Robin Reddy Show, Mom Bop, Matt Hen, and more!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There will also be family fun activities like balloon twisting, jugglers, and face painting alongside some more grown-up activities like a beer garden.

Car-Free Day is organized by Translink and aims to educate people on the future of transportation. As the name suggests, people are encouraged to take transit, bike, walk, car-share, car-pool, or use other methods of electric transportation. There are bike racks on the sidewalk to park your bike but there will be no street parking for those who choose to car-share or car-pool. 

Car-Free Day takes place Saturday, June 11 from noon until 8 pm.

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Food & Drink

These are the best patios in Surrey for summer

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These places are perfect to grab a drink and appies while enjoying the sun (@salylimonsurrey; @dominionsurrey / Instagram)

Summer is quickly approaching, and that means patio season is almost upon us. But don’t worry, you don’t need to head over to Vancouver to enjoy some great restaurant patios, Surrey has plenty of great places. So here’s our list of the best patios in Surrey for the summer.

 

Sal y Limón

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Taco Tuesday anyone? Sal y Limón serves up all of your favorite Mexican foods like tacos, tortas, chimichangas, quesadillas, and burritos. They have a large outdoor patio for you to bring your whole family or friend group out. 

 

Clove — The Art of Dining

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you’re looking for some fine dining in Surrey that also has a patio, look no further than Clove. They take “inspiration from India’s ancient cooking methods” and incorporate it with a “modern flare.” If you want to treat yourself, then this is the place for you. 

 

The Sunflower Cafe

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Sunflower Cafe is one of those places that has been there forever but is still a hidden gem. At first, there doesn’t appear to be a patio but if you head on out through the back door you’ll enter this beautiful little garden area with some seating. Grab a coffee, one of their pastries, and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. 

 

Crescent Coffee House

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you’re looking to switch things up instead of visiting Sunflower Cafe you can head over to Crescent Coffee House. They serve your typical cafe eats alongside hot and cold coffee beverages. Their patio isn’t as nice as Sunflower Cafe but they do have plenty more drink options like their iced beach berry teas. 

 

The Roadhouse Grille

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Roadhouse Grille is an old-school restaurant known for its homestyle cooking. They’ve been in the neighbourhood since 1997 so you know the food has to be good. This is the type of place where you need to try their specialty King George Burger that comes with mozzarella cheese, bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a pickle all served on your choice of bun. Their patio also has a glass roof so you don’t have to worry about the weather either.

 

Hooked Fish Bar

 

 
 
 
 
 
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With a patio right alongside the water, Hooked Fish Bar is a very popular destination for patio-lovers. They serve delicious seafood like fish tacos and mussels. Be sure to book a reservation in advance because this spot fills up quickly on the weekend when it’s nice out. 

 

Dominion Bar + Kitchen

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Dominion is known for its “New Canadian” dishes and drinks, which can be best described as elevated pub food. We’d recommend ordering a couple of appetizers like their calamari or Korean fried cauliflower with a couple of drinks to share among your friends. They’re also open for brunch so if you’re looking for a patio-breakfast date then this is the place. 

 

My Shanti

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you’ve ever wanted to dine in a garden, then My Shanti should be your next patio destination. Their patio is filled with plants and is the perfect spot to hit up with your friends. So the next time you’re craving some Indian cuisine, be sure to visit My Shanti.

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