New Westminster is quickly evolving into a culinary hub in its own right within the Lower Mainland. Whether it’s authentic Mexican food, gourmet burgers, craft beer or a local roast – the Royal City is becoming known as a foodie destination for its array of unique offerings.
One local café that so perfectly represents the community, culture – and culinary evolution – of New Westminster is Old Crow Coffee Co., situated across the Fraser River at 655 Front Street in downtown.
When Stephanie Vu first opened the café in March of 2015, she and her business partners envisioned a motorcycle café – a sort of transient spot for motorcycle enthusiasts and riders to stop in for a good cup of coffee en route to their next destination. This makes sense when you consider Stephanie’s background.
Prior to Old Crow, she was in a metal apprenticeship program with a strong interest in automotive and motorcycle repair. This – coupled with her love of coffee and coffee shops – led her and her partners to a dream hybrid of the two: a motorcycle café that serves bikers and showcases unique motorcycles.
However, almost since day one of opening, Stephanie explains that the café took on a life of its own. Instead of a temporary resting stop for wanderers, Old Crow Coffee organically grew to become something even bigger and better: an important cornerstone and meeting spot for the community
“I’m really proud of the café and space that this has become,” says Stephanie. “Old Crow Coffee has grown into a shared space for arts, culture and the community – especially our back area, which has been used for all kinds of community events, performances, and workshops.”
Having been born and raised in Southern California and as a relatively new transplant to the Lower Mainland, one might wonder why Stephanie chose New Westminster – of all places – to open her dream café. The answer, though, is simple:
“I love the charm of New West, all the character here and the sort of unique big small town of this community.”
Indeed, this café so seamlessly blends into the area, Front Street itself and the character-filled building it occupies, one would think Old Crow has been here for nearly as long as the city. Stephanie explains that the name, too, fits with the feel of the old building, the neighbourhood and the history of BC’s oldest city.
“A long time ago,” she says, “I heard an old English proverb: ‘Old crows are hard to catch’ and that stuck with me. Plus, I love crows. So we felt the name just perfectly captured and fit into everything around us – and made sense for us.”
With two years of experience under her belt as part owner and full-time barista at Old Crow Coffee, I asked Stephanie about her favourite part of the job. Without hesitation, she said it’s the people.
“It’s 100% knowing the people in the area, getting to make those connections, learning about the community and what they need, and working to better align with what they need.”
A key priority for Stephanie, she says, is creating a safe space for everyone, being inclusive to all and – most importantly – engaging the community, whether it’s through casual and impromptu coffee tutorials to customers in the café or offering up the space in the back for important community and neighbourhood events, such as open mic nights, presentations and other events.
As for New Westminster’s best-kept secret, she gave a generous shout-out Wild Thyme – a modest Lebanese restaurant on 12th Street that she says serves the “most amazing” food and is hands down one of the best restaurants she’s eaten at in her entire life.
But, she adds, “people are quickly catching on.” The same, of course, could also be said about New Westminster – and the city’s growing status as an emerging culinary and coffee destination.
Although Canada momentously celebrates its 150th birthday this year, New Westminster’s history is even older – by nearly a decade. In fact, it was in 1859 that New Westminster officially became the first city in Western Canada.
Now, some 158 years later, New Westminster is a modern, vibrant city in its own right with impressive attractions and remarkable shopping, dining, entertainment and theatrical experiences.
New Westminster’s growing popularity is evident through its share of visitors from the Lower Mainland – including Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley – as well as from Washington State, other parts of the United States and the world. With these visitors looking for information on the city, Tourism New West’s Visitor Information Centre is bustling with activity and information.
As a student entering her third year at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Christina Anderson is back home for the summer and ready to champion New West to the world as a Visitor Information Counsellor at Tourism New Westminster’s various visitor centres.
I recently had a chance to chat with Christina about her background – and her role in helping visitors make the most of their time in the Royal City.
What inspired and motivated you to become a Visitor Information Counsellor for Tourism New Westminster?
I was born and raised in New West, and so when it came time for me to look for a summer job… well, it just made sense. Before this, I had been working as a Visitor Councillor for Surrey and White Rock – off and on for about a year-and-a-half – and that was a great experience, but my goal was always to make it back here… which is home.
It’s also so nice to be working in this area, and to be promoting all that New West has to offer. There’s so much going on, so there’s always lots to tell people about when they walk through the doors.
What do you think sets New Westminster apart from other cities?
There’s such a uniqueness and individuality to New Westminster. First of all, it’s BC’s oldest city so it has history. There’s also a really strong feeling of community and sometimes feels like a big small town – yet it’s also close to the hustle and bustle of the city.
What is your favourite part of the job?
I would say it’s meeting new people and having a chance to chat with them, answer their questions and tell them about what’s happening in the city. It’s so fun to help people plan their trips – and my job definitely makes me want to go out and see more of New West. There’s just always so much to see and do here. Overall, though, I want to say that I am so happy to have this job. I feel so lucky to be an ambassador for the city, and am very excited for the summer.
In your opinion, what is New Westminster’s best-kept secret?
The Food! New Westminster has some of the best restaurants and food in the Lower Mainland. The city is definitely under-rated when it comes to food, but that’s quickly changing. All of my favourite foods and dishes and restaurants are all here – so I definitely think that’s New West’s best-kept secret.
Why should people drop by to chat with you at the Visitor Information Centre?
We can tell you about different offerings – depending on the week – and what’s going on in terms of activities, events and festivals. We can give you the insider’s perspective on the city. If you happen to be wandering around Downtown New West, then you should pop by to grab a map and find out about what’s happening around town that you might be interested in.
Tourism New Westminster’s Visitor Information Centre is located within the state-of-the-art Anvil Centre in the heart of Downtown New Westminster at 777 Columbia Street. For the summer season, a Visitor Info Centre will also open as of July 1st at the River Market – in addition to pop-up visitor centres at some of the city’s major events and festivals.
Be sure to drop by and visit Christina and the other visitor information Counsellor to get the inside scoop on fun experiences and event information around the city.
Did you know? Last year, Tourism New Westminster’s Visitor Centre – including roaming ambassadors – welcomed more than 5,000 visitors.
#MadeInNewWest #BCTourismMatters #ExploreBC
Over the past several years, Downtown New Westminster has seen some incredible and unprecedented growth with the development of the Anvil Centre, River Market and Westminster Pier Park – all of which are helping to create a vibrant and revitalized community with some of the city’s most unique experiences.
Of course, local events and programs are also a large part of what makes New Westminster so exciting and dynamic in helping to drive business and visitors to this particularly historic neighbourhood.
This is where Angie Whitfield comes in. As the Programs & Events Manager at the Downtown New West Business Improvement Association (BIA), Angie’s role is to “bring the community together” and support local businesses through various activities.
Since joining the BIA a little more than a year ago, she has worked on a host of events that include the Ultimate New West Shop Hop, holiday campaigns, and others – all of which help to encourage business and visitation to the area from the Lower Mainland and beyond.
However, she says the event that draws the largest crowd and the most business year-over-year is the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest – which also happens to be Canada’s largest one-day food truck event. (more…)
Join in the Hyack Festival Celebration this year with activities for the whole family. Here are 7 events taking place throughout New West during the weeklong celebration!
1. The Anvil Salute
May 22 from 11:30am-12:30pm at Queen’s Park Stadium
2. May Day Celebrations
May 24 starting at 11:30am at Queen’s Park Stadium
(The Record / Chung Chow)
3. Hyack International Parade
May 27 from 11am-2pm beginning at 6th Street and 8th Avenue
4. Uptown Street Fest
May 27 from 11am-5pm
5. Rose Planting Ceremony
May 27 at 1:45pm in front of City Hall
6. Artillery Firing
May 27 at 2pm at City Hall Front Lawn
7. May Day Community Heritage Picnic
May 28 from 2pm-4pm at the Armoury
Queensborough Landing is hosting a new boutique pop-up shop for the first time this May, running over two weekends. They’ve collected an assortment of local makers, creators, and small businesses to create a unique shopping experience you won’t want to miss! The first weekend is May 13-14th, just in time for Mother’s Day, and it wraps up after the 27-28th with a different set of vendors.
Still looking for a Mother’s Day gifts? Sign up for the Floral Design Workshop taking place the first weekend – deadline to sign up is Thursday, May 11th!! – and learn how to make flower arrangements just like the pros do or even bring your mom with you!
Still not convinced? Take a look at just a few of the vendors you can see there!
Food & Baking
Health & Beauty
These businesses range from all natural skincare lines to spa and beauty products. Perfect for Mothers Day gifts or for treating yourself! During the first weekend you can see Lipani Skincare and Erd Soap, and during the second weekend, you’ll get the chance to visit Once Upon Bath & Body Inc and the Pure Serenity Spa.
Maybe the most interesting of all the products are these lifestyle brands, from clothing to crafts, you’ll be sure to find something that catches your eye. On the first weekend check out Aloha Kai Apparel and The Pirate and The Gypsy Design. Then, on the second weekend, you’ll want to come by to see Taylin Threads, Kinder Books, Mama Chic Decor, Bitter Melon Bindery, and Riverbug Love.
These vendors are sure to be a hit, so make sure you come out to support the #MadeInNewWest products and find something you can enjoy!
This year, Canada turns 150 years old and to celebrate this incredible milestone, we will be publishing the city’s first-ever bucket list of 150 experiences – and we need your ideas.
Since this will be an “insider’s guide,” we’re seeking input from local businesses and residents on some of the top #MadeInNewWest experiences – from where to go for a great meal and a local brew to the city’s best spots for art, music, theatre and more.
Each and every idea will come from a local, offering an inside scoop in 15 different categories – including arts, culinary, events & festivals and outdoor experiences… among others.
“There’s a reason New Westminster is becoming known as a go-to destination for amazing experiences in the world of arts, culture, culinary, heritage, theatre and more – there’s always something to do and see here,” says Tej Kainth, executive director of Tourism New Westminster. “We want this guide to give an insider’s perspective on some of the city’s best experiences – so this is a great chance to share your favourite activities and events in New West, and be part of this special project.”
The guide will be free and distributed at New Westminster’s official Canada Day celebrations and other major events and festivals throughout the coming summer months.
Deadline for submissions is May 27, 2017. Submit your favourite things to do, see, taste and experience in New Westminster HERE!
Have any questions? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where: 52 Sixth St.
When: April 22nd from 2-5pm
The After Party
Because Record Store Day doesn’t end when the shop closes – join Social Medium DJ’s at Old Crow Coffee Co (655 Front Street) from 6-10pm for FREE live music
This Metro Vancouver event has exhibits in New Westminster for the first time. This year, artists from all around submitted pictures for the theme of Traffic. Come find these stunning photographs and be inspired by the incredible 30 x 40 foot installations. You don’t want to miss out on seeing these thought provoking pieces from talented Canadian artists.
Check out The Telephone Salesman by Matthew Brooks at 350 Columbia Street.
Check out Heliographic Scale by New West’s own James Nizam at 611 Sixth Street, right by Royal City Centre.
St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year which means an entire Irish-themed weekend! So grab a Guinness – or two and paint the town green.
As the Irish would say, Slainte (cheers)!
Dance the weekend away to Irish tunes and drink specials at Union Jack Public House or see if you have the luck of the Irish at River’s Reach Pub – one lucky leprechaun will leave with a 50″ Flatscreen TV!
Wash down your Shepard’s Pie, Guiness Irish Stew and Steak Yorkies with Guinness and Jameson specials at Fireside Public House. Or get real Irish at The Castle Neighbourhood Grill – that’s right, a castle! There will be green jello shots, Pipers, and specials on all Irish food.
*Remember to get home safely – ride the skytrain or call Royal City Taxi (604-521-6666)