On a crisp, breezy morning, the smell of freshly baked muffins and the warmth of coffee can make anyone feel at home. Sprinkle that with the warmth of the hosts and you don’t want to step out. This is exactly what happened with us the other day when we were at The Uncommon Cafe. Having worked with them for quite some time now, we thought it was about time that we brought their story to you.
While walking down Powell Street, it is impossible to not step in at the Uncommon Cafe. Uncommon, isn’t it an uncommon name? How was this name conceived? What’s so uncommon about Uncommon? Well, these and few other questions were answered by Co-Owner Lisa Leimanis over some scrumptious goodies.
Lisa and her husband, Luc, are the minds and hands behind The Uncommon Café. Initially planning just a commissary, Uncommon is their brainchild through which they want to support other local small businesses. With the commissary, they wanted to be a financially viable option in the commercial kitchen spaces for different small establishments. Luc chose the name “The Uncommonssary Kitchen”.
Lisa says that apart from being just landlords to small businesses, they wanted to work with them and beside them, too. Now with The Uncommon Cafe, on 477 Powell Street, they prepare home-like food for a thriving community while working with other local small businesses. Home-like? They prefer to call it Homemade (to which we can’t agree more!).
Almost everything they have in the store is made in-house. The in-house Chef & Baker make everything from scratch – the ricotta, the muffins, the pulled pork, the jalapeno jelly, the weekly desserts – all the items are made on site with many of the recipes coming from their families. On the other hand, the coffee, tea, popsicles and different products in store are sourced from local small vendors.
At Uncommon, Lisa says, they want you to feel at home by being comfortable, known and well fed. Their passion for food, community, local businesses and health is reflected in all their dealings.
Talking of food, we had to quiz Lisa on their top selling item and personal favourite.
“Braised Chicken” said Lisa with a proud smile lighting up her face. She then proceeded to explain how their braised chicken is a unique blend of various flavours. With double creamed Brie, Applewood smoked Bacon, homemade Jalapeno Jelly (prepared by Chef Luc) and Herb Aioli, their Braised Chicken is a crowd pleaser. You have to close your eyes to enjoy the taste of so many flavours mixing in your mouth!
“While Braised Chicken is a top seller, we are well known for our Meatballs, too”, said Lisa. With mentions in the Vancity Buzz (Top Meatballs in the City), LA Times (Mind-blowing Meatballs) and other local publications, Meatballs is Uncommon’s another notable delicacy. “When you stuff your Meatballs with Mint, I guess, you got a winner!” mentioned Lisa on giving us a quick insight on their distinct blend for Meatballs.
Apart from Braised Chicken and Meatballs, do try their Quiche, too. Their French baker, Valentine Kitamura, knows how to do it right in the most authentic way.
While guests and friends love these items, Lisa’s personal favorites are the Porky Bun and the BOB (short of Bacon Onion Bun). “How you can go wrong when you take Grandma’s bun dough and pack it with BBQ slathered pulled pork or sautéed bacon and onions?!”, asks Lisa looking at the plate of buns in front of us. Before you ask, a bite into these buns is a trip down the memory lane which goes straight to your childhood where snacking on house baked goodies was one of your favourite pastimes.
When you work so hard, prepare some flavorful treats and consider customers as guests, you are bound to get immense appreciation from them. It is this appreciation and love that keeps the Uncommon Team going. Lisa narrated one such incident where hearing back from their customer shows how they have been successful in cultivating the community spirit. A Christmas Card from a nearby business in their area read, “Thanks for being in the neighbourhood. We would all still be hangry without you!”. If you are around Jackson Avenue and Powell Street, you would know how true this is.
It is good to know how much Uncommon Cafe has achieved in just a year’s time. Yes, just a year. In fact, they are celebrating their 1-year anniversary today, June 30th ! To mark the occasion, they are hosting a Birthday BBQ from 2pm – 7pm this evening on their premises. If you are around, do pay them a visit to experience the delicious food and warm hospitality first hand.
Other than this, they will also be a part of the celebrations for this year’s 40th Annual Powell Street Festival on July 30 & 31st. Another reason for you to visit them? Yes, absolutely.
“See you soon!”, says Lisa with the warm smile that we be back for apart from the food.