Please be Sita’d: Winlaw’s Mama Sita’s Cafe has a new trio of owners. Helen Kabatoff, Lee Petts and chef/kitchen manager Steve Yau have taken over from Sita Koster. Photo: Sita Koster

BUSINESS BUZZ: Big changes afoot at the corner of Baker and Ward

Shoe La La will move into the old Wait’s News; Procter Bakery to reopen this spring

By Darren Davidson

The Business Buzz starts with an update on the bustling corner of Ward and Baker.

A year after purchasing the building that houses Kurama Sushi and Loot, Kate Falconer and Jay Van Zyll de Jong are getting close to taking the wraps off things.

The couple — Van Zyll de Jong, a carpenter born and raised in Nelson, and Falconer, who’s run her business out of the venue for nearly 15 years — are aiming to restore the building back to its original look.

The major reno underway has been tackled mostly by Jay and family, along with the help of Boardwalk Windows and Peter Gosney and Company. It’s been a tricky rebuild according to Falconer.

Next month or so, Shoe La La will move up to the corner that was formerly home to Wait’s News. Silver Lining Consignment will move into the old Eclectic Circus space. Then the two businesses’ former homes will be converted into three smaller rental units.

For Shoe La La/Silver Lining owner Erin Elliott, 20-year manager Lily Angrignon and the shop’s eight staff, the move is a big one, and comes with a great story too.

In business since 1983, and formerly known as the Kootenay Cobbler, the shop was opened by Erin’s mom, Megan. Erin’s dad Michael was in fact the cobbler.

Megan sold to Wendy Stevens, and went on to run Morning Mountain, but then bought the shop back with Trudy Dispasquale. In 2006, Megan became sole owner. But tragedy struck when Megan passed away in 2013. That’s when Erin took over.

“She was my best friend,” says Erin of her mother. “It’s my mom’s legacy. I feel really grateful I was able to carry it forward.”

Erin curated the shop into the boutique venue it is now, replete with brands including Birkenstock, Doc Martin and a focus on quality and comfort.

As for the move — to one of Nelson’s prime time corners — it just happened, entirely unexpectedly.

“It was light bulb moment,” she adds. “We’ve never been on Baker. The space is perfect. It’s a big move for us.”

Speaking of new places to hang one’s hat … Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall has shifted to a new portfolio. She’s taking over as Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, swapping places with Bruce Ralston, who now tackles the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources position.

Mungall says she’s planning to bring her rural perspective to the new gig, and aiming to promote BC’s tech sector in particular.

Fires, floods, cyber attacks, power meltdowns … check the headlines. They happen, and with climate changing and the world’s technological revolution still in what some visionaries say is simply start mode, as a business owner how will you ensure the your livelihood, and those of your employees, while preparing for what might as well be considered inevitable?

Community Futures is hosting a two-night Business Continuity Planning Workshop workshop March 9 and 10, from 5 until 8 p.m. to help you identify risks to your business, and to provide resources you need to solve problems after they happen, during and most pragmatically, before. More info? Visit futures.bc.ca/ced/business-continuity.

Speaking of which. The coronavirus. Keep well informed and search out alternate sources of information on the issue. Given that the world’s economic lynchpin — the Chinese manufacturing sector — is grinding to a crawl, the virus is real and frightening. Kootenay businesses of all sorts are in real-world binds due to the slowdown on parts, services and labour relied on from China. That said, the age of untruths we currently live in can create all sorts of misinformation, panic and all.

Check out The Globe and Mail article “When misinformation goes viral: A brief history of plague panic, from the 1600s to today’s coronavirus crisis.”

The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards are open for nominations. Those awards will go to Business of The Year, as well as others who’ve shown excellence in hospitality, tourism, retail, the non-profit sector, professional service, technology and start-up entrepreneurialism. Nominations are due by Monday, March 2.

By the way … the chamber’s next Business After Business will be held at Nelson Olive Oil Co., on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m., at 502 Baker. The shop is owned by Michelle Rudell and veteran Nelson outdoor photographer Dave Heath. Check ’er out. The store has 50 olive oils in stock, and a collection of Heath’s imagery for sale too.

With spring round the corner, it’ll soon be time to make a jaunt out to Procter for a visit to one of the village’s quintessential drawing cards. The Procter Village Bakery will be open once the flowers are back, thanks to the hard work by the Procter Community Society.

“It’s been a long search,” says society VP Lisa Norris, “and we are confident that our new tenants are perfect for our community.”

Bee Campbell and Rob Jenkins inked the bakery lease Jan. 28.

Campbell, who’s spent the last eight years working in food industry, spent a lot of time in Procter as a kid and has a soft spot for people, baking sweets ‘n’ sourdough, as well as the bright future for organics and sustainability in general.

Jenkins hails from a small village in northern England, surrounded by farms and artisan food operations, and worked as a cook and butcher in northern England and Spain.

The society has been searching for someone to operate the famous village venue, which for years was the source of delectable wafts of baked goods galore, thanks to Nelson’s Only Bakery (who used to make their bagels there), Susan Foote (the master behind Procter’s famous cinnamon buns) then Michael Martin, up till 2018.

Norris explains the business model is innovative.

“It’s part social enterprise and private business” she explains. The society, which gutted the old bakery and is renovating to the tune of between $75,000 to $100,000, owns the building and soon all the equipment. Campbell and Jenkins will be operators.

From one community culinary hub to another. Winlaw’s Mama Sita’s Cafe is under new ownership. Helen Kabatoff, Lee Petts and chef/kitchen manager Steve Yau have taken over the reins from previous owner Sita Koster.

According to Koster (who’s now a food blogger — check out munchmorefoods.com) the trio bring “a true commitment to providing the community with the best quality food and drinks, and whenever possible, locally sourced ingredients to further strengthen the local economy.”

Mama Sita’s held its first annual free Christmas dinner and fed over 100 people for free. On the menu front the venue will offer gluten free, carnivorous, keto, lactose intolerance, or vegan cuisine. And on entertainment front, there’ll be open mic nights on Wednesdays, Diamond Willow on Friday, and Jazz on Sunday with Amie and Kevin.

On the media front. Touchstones Museum of Art and History’s Kootenay News exhibit ends Sunday, Feb. 16 and the WORD exhibition ends Sunday, Feb. 23. Well worth catching them both. The Kootenay News show provides a chronicle of the important role print media has played in the Heritage City’s venerable, colourful past.

Lastly, your smile for the day, under the heading of pay-before-you-play: An elderly fisherman wrote to a mail order house the following: “Please send me one of those gasoline engines for my boat you show on page 438, and if it’s any good, I’ll send you a cheque.”

In a short time he received the following reply:

“Please send cheque. If it’s any good, we’ll send the engine.”

See you next month!

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Bun to be had: Vacant since 2018, the Procter Village Bakery has landed a great set of new operators. Rob Jenkins, Bee Campbell and Howard the Dog (all three far right) will be ushering in the famous village venue re-opening this spring. The Procter Community Society, led by (from left to right) Russell Precious, Lisa Norris, and Katie Hill have undertaken a $100,000 renovation of the bakery. Photo: Cecilia Hobson

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