What happened to Stew?
The question may lingering on the minds of residents passing by the old Stewarts Cafe on Harrison Ave, now renamed Arts Cafe by new owners Ian Warren and his wife Rachael Preston.
The couple said they wanted to reinvent the place a bit, but didn’t want to go overboard with unnecessary costs. So they simply took the “Stew” off the sign and left it “arts” cafe.
“It was too good not to take advantage of,” said Preston with a laugh.
The name also went well with the couple’s vision of making the cafe a place to showcase local artwork.
Another serendipitous occurrence took place when the couple were searching online for a stylish, yet affordable, banquette for the back of the cafe. They searched some sites and found exactly what they were looking for, for free. As long as they could go pick it up in Vancouver. The banquette came from the set of a TV series shot in Vancouver called Rogue.
“This would have ended up in the dump,” said Warren of the chic, silver bench.
And when they got the banquette back to the cafe it just happened to fit perfectly against the back wall. No cutting or adjustments were necessary.
Warren and Preston are not new to the restaurant industry. Most recently the couple ran a pub on Saturna Island for six years. Warren has been working in the restaurant industry for 25 years and has been in every possible position including general manager, chef, maintenance man, payroll clerk, bartender and server. He’s managed restaurants in London, Australia and Vancouver.
Preston is an award-winning author and has published three novels, the first one in 2002. She has a master’s degree in English literature and also studied at Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver. Her books are available at the cafe.
Warren has always had an interest in photography and his work currently hangs on the walls at the Arts Cafe.
The couple said they are interested in having local artists bring in portfolios or small examples of their work, and they will designate a wall to local art. They would also like to host some artsy events in the future like author readings, spoken word events and other gatherings.
The cafe is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and serves breakfast and lunch. There are some old favourites like seafood chowder and some fresh new dishes like a wild sockeye salmon sandwich. Arts Cafe is located at 147 Harrison Avenue in Parksville.