Winter is coming and around here that means trying to escape the rain to find a cozy spot in which to enjoy a hot beverage. If you’re keen to sit down somewhere other than your own couch, you might want to give Cafe Brie a try.
“It’s a ‘come in, sit down and talk for hours’ kind of place,” said Samantha Hull, who co-owns the Qualicum Beach cafe with her wife Leanne. “We don’t like to rush our customers out.”
The Hulls, who are originally from the mainland, took over the dozen-table restaurant from previous owners in August 2013. In the transition, they kept the original Cafe Brie name in order to make transferring the liquor license —and customers — easier. And as Samantha said, “it kind of fits” with the interior’s Parisian theme.
The restaurant, however, did see some slow changes. Aside from a fresh coat of paint, more decor and a selection of work by local artists (including Leanne herself), the Hulls also expanded the menu to include breakfast and more lunch items and baked goods.
All of the cafe’s coffee is made to order and the food is made in-house, including stocks for soup. It’s not a surprise really when you take into account that both women have cooked professionally for a number of years and know the business inside out.
“She’s (Samantha) Rainman when it comes to costing out food,” Leanne said.
After Leanne earned her culinary degree from Vancouver Community College and Samantha learned to cook in her family’s Tsawwassen bakery, the Hulls started their catering company Dragonfly Co. From a commercial kitchen in Richmond, they made wedding cakes and cupcakes, catered events and provided craft service on film sets for music videos and the like. At one point, they also worked at the family bakery and ran a store for the Original Cupcakes by Heather & Lori franchise. It wasn’t until Samantha’s parents retired to Qualicum that the couple decided to follow and open Cafe Brie.
While the Hulls still operate Dragonfly Co. from Qualicum, the restaurant has taken priority. Still, they wanted to keep things interesting. After seeing how popular afternoon tea was in the area, they decided to give it a try.
The cafe hosts tea Monday- Friday from 1:30-3 p.m., and they also plan special seasonal teas. This month, their November Twilight Evening Tea will be held every Thursday or Friday from 5:30-7 p.m. There will also be a Christmas Afternoon Tea every Sunday in December with seatings at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Since the menus are “a little bit more specialized,” Samantha said seats must be booked in advance. “We’re small here, so we need to plan in advance,” she explained.
Cafe Brie is also known for how heartily it celebrates Christmas in-store. “Christmas is really big here,” Leanne said. “People come to just take pictures of the big Christmas tree.”
According to the Hulls, however, the heart and soul of the restaurant are not the special events. “We’ve got some really great regular customers,” said Samantha, who added that she enjoys how diverse the clientele is.
If you’d like to join the crowd, you’ll find Cafe Brie tucked away in Qualicum Beach’s Carriage Lane (#5 – 177 Second Ave.). They’re open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. You can preview their menu at cafebrie.ca. If you’d like to book a seat at one of the special teas in Nov. and Dec., call 250-594-2526.