Gibby’s Cafe & Catering is moving to a new location.
The popular cafe, known for its home-made and delicious food made with a lot of love, is gearing up to begin operations at 3278 Sherman Rd., which is adjacent to Berkey’s Corner, as of Sept. 9.
Owner Sandilea Gibson said the cafe’s current location on the campus of the Cowichan branch of Vancouver Island University, which the cafe has occupied for the last two years, is no longer available for the business.
She said she was informed that due to financial concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, VIU plans to move its culinary program back into the space the cafe occupies.
Gibson, who ran the cafe for students at Cowichan Secondary School for 11 years before moving it to VIU where she could access the public, said she’s excited by the move largely because the Berkey’s Corner area is growing rapidly and there is a demand for the type of food and service Gibby’s Cafe & Catering offers.
The cafe is popular for its breakfasts and lunches, which includes soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers and fries, that are made fresh on site.
“When we found out that we had to be out of VIU, we were panicking,” Gibson said as she worked to prepare the new cafe for opening day along with team member Lana Titus, who ran the old Power Lunch restaurant that was located on Canada Avenue with help from Gibson.
“But we found this amazing space in this great location. We still have a lot of work to do before opening day, but we’re working hard and looking forward to the move.”
The open air food court that was established in downtown Duncan this summer to assist local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic is achieving its purpose so far.
The Downtown Duncan BIA opened the Station Street Common food court on July 7 in Station Park, with help from funding from the City of Duncan and the Island Coastal Economic Trust, mainly to address restrictions on customer numbers in restaurants brought on by the health crisis.
More than 25 eateries in the downtown core are taking advantage of the outdoor eating venue, which features an innovative online ordering option.
Ian Locke, the DDBIA’s creative director, said the food court, which will close at a yet-to-be-decided date in September, has been doing well.
“It’s been getting quite a response and some of the restaurants are seeing an uptick in business since the food court began,” he said.
As for if the DDBIA intends to open the food court again next summer, Locke said its too early to tell at this stage as the City of Duncan has yet to decide the future of Station Park.
The city undertook a public “placemaking” project for the park earlier this year with Mark Lakeman and his Portland-based design firm Communitecture to determine the future of the site, which is where the old Red Balloon store used to stand.
“The city still hasn’t decided what to do with it yet, but the food court could be seen as a test for placing something like that there, so we’ll have to wait and see what will happen at that site,” Locke said.
Merridale Cidery & Distillery will be hosting its annual Craft Cider Harvest Festival on Sept. 29 at its farm and orchard in Cobble Hill.
This year, a total of 15 cideries will be at the site for the popular event, which is lauded among the cider aficionados of the Island, ready to share their latest presses.
Everyone who attends the festival will be able to sample lots of different products from each cidery, meet the makers, and generally learn about craft cider from those who live and breathe it every day.
Cideries representing the Vancouver Island region at the festival this year include the host cidery Merridale, as well as Tod Creek, Twin Island, Salt Spring Wild, Sea Cider, Gabbie’s, Raven’s Moon and Valley Cider.
The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, along with chamber members Stillhead Distillery and Merridale Cidery & Distillery, are asking for support in a country-wide fight for parity with American companies in the industry.
On Aug. 12, Canadian distilleries from across the nation initiated a petition campaign that calls on all political parties to lobby the federal government to immediately match excise parity with the 2017 small distillers excise agreement in the U.S.
In 2017, the U.S. government attempted to stimulate job growth and agricultural production by reducing the excise rate on the first small amount of alcohol that a domestic U.S. distillery produces, which amounts to approximately 100,000 proof gallons.
As a result, there have been almost 1,000 new distillery upstarts in the U.S. since the policy implementation. and tens of thousands of jobs created.
Currently, Canada has an escalator tax attached to the excise tax, and domestic distillers pay $12.61 per litre compared to about $1.77 per litre in the U.S., and that has made it difficult for Canadian distillers to compete.
The Duncan Cowichan Cowichan Chamber is joining other chambers from across the country to rally support for Canadian distilleries.
Together with their Cowichan members, Stillhead Distillery and Merridale Cidery, the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce is asking people to sign the petition, which currently has almost 5,000 signatures, to show their support.
Compiled by Robert Barron