Gabriel’s Gourmet Café started small. Like, really small. Think food truck without wheels small. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have big ideas—you don’t have to be big to think big—but we weren’t big then. Anyway, small or not, people liked what we were doing enough and pretty soon, we were busy all the time, and then before we knew it we were busy enough to think about growing into something bigger, which is generally what you want to do.
We started looking around and soon landed at this place for sale on Commercial Street. It was a big move—from 200 square feet to 1,600—which I’m sure you can tell is quite a bit bigger, but we knew that we could make it work. Most of all, we knew we could do something special, something that wasn’t being done anywhere in Nanaimo.
We didn’t know what we’d do at the time, we just knew people were hungry for something different, something new. We had the notion to serve local food sourced from local farms and food producers because it was unique and because it fit with our ideas about sustainability. We figured that if we wanted it, our community might want it too. They weren’t just customers, after all, they were our friends. Our family.
So, we delivered, and they delivered. We were packed to the rafters on our first day of opening, and the next day, and the day after that and so on and so on until eventually we expanded again into the space next door, and ever since it’s been this delicious stew of growing, and the community coming together around our food, and new people and old friends coming together in this place. The community (that’s you), has been incredibly supportive of what we’re doing, and in turn, we think we’ve helped people have a better, healthier relationship with local food—that we’ve been a part of creating a deeper understanding of where food comes from and who makes it and how it gets here.
Anyway, for all that we’ve grown (if you’re counting, it’s twice so far), we’re happy to say that the community has grown with us. We work with about 15 farms and food producers at any given point in time, we developed a soup token program to help disadvantaged people in our community, we’re a showcase for local artists. We give back where we can, and the community gives us their support in turn.
We have this triple bottom line, you might have heard it before. It’s people, planet, and profits. Every decision we make, whether it’s a new thing on our menu or a new community partnership, asks whether it’s good for those three things. If it’s not, we just don’t do it.
The result of all that, what we’ve got here, isn’t just a place to eat, it’s a community space. It’s a place for everyone from all walks of life to come together and connect around food. It’s how we eat at home, it’s how we raise our son, and it’s something that we hope happens for everyone here-our guests, our staff, and our community.
Welcome to Gabriel’s Gourmet Café. Welcome to the family.