Saturday, November 7, 2009

WHAT are we doing WRONG?!?!?



WHAT are we doing wrong when we get a comment like this via our website survey...

"REALLY would like to hear local, live entertainment. Along with the food, that does more to bring the ambiance to a totally different level than anything else. We have amazing jazz artists in the area for example, who would be perfect. Tasty local food, tasty local musicians--recipe for success. "

Tell me, please...

We feature LOCAL, LIVE ENTERTAINMENT usually at LEAST 3 nights A WEEK....

I'm gonna guess this person has never been to our place, or they would know that...

Are we completely missing the mark with our advertising - ALL of which says "Live Music" in it somewhere... ???

Are we talking to the wrong people???

Is it just that we're not solely a jazz house and this person doesn't care about any other kind of music?? We were a jazz fest venue!!!

My forehead is bleeding from the brick wall I've been banging it against...

Someone, PLEASE... tell me what we're doing wrong, or not doing enough.... cuz i'm out of ideas.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

new fall directions...

wow... i guess august was busy, eh? no blog posts all month! crazy...

anyway... looks like there are outside factors at work that are helping us make some of the harder decisions about what we're gonna do around here.

the hardest decision of them all is/was... do we stop or continue to provide retail "grab-n-go" sweets like a proper bakery??

Here's the truth of the matter... we never intended to continue being a "proper bakery" when we bought the "proper bakery" three and a half years ago... we saw this great place, and instantly had a vision of what we could turn it into.

So now... three years later... we're realizing that vision but have also maintained almost all the retail baking that we started with, as well as grown the wedding cake/occasion cake side of the business by accident.

So what's the problem? Well... #1. Time. Operating a "real" restaurant does not leave a lot of time to also operate a "real" bakery... at least not with the same amount of staff. #2. Space. The storage space required for the ingredients & packaging for both bakery & restaurant exceeds what we can comfortably manage. #3. Refrigeration. We cannot install a walk-in cooler nor freezer due to the configuration of our space and the fact that to VENT these things we'd have to go through the apartment upstairs or through the concrete exterior wall, which happens to be underground... both scenarios costing WAY more than we can afford. That means, we have to rely on stand-alone units... three of which we lost over the course of this very hot summer. Most recently the only freezer we had that would accommodate full trays of sweets (the size they are when they're made before they get cut down to service size).

This most recent "death" has led to the current crux... we've got nowhere to STORE the sweets between when they're made and when they're put out for sale... and because of time issues, making small batches isn't really efficient because, for one, i'd have to make nanaimo bars every other day to keep up!!

So that then leads to...

a) do we stop making nanaimo bars (and all the others) altogether??? i think we might get lynched if we did that.
b) do we reduce the number of available sweets and rotate the selection? that might be the most logical and least unpopular option.
c) do we find a new baker who has their own commercial kitchen and contract out our recipes & the storage?? that might work but would most definitely put the prices up.
d) do we change our selection entirely to items that are simpler to make in small batches and still cost effective? this might work...

We don't want to price ourselves out of the market - we are by no means "pastry chefs" so creating desserts that end up costing too much per serving because we're only making a dozen at a time because they take so long doesn't make any sense...

We don't want to lose our customers who only come here for the desserts, tho because of our dwindling and inconsistent supply over the summer, maybe that's already happened...

We don't (at least right now) want to start a whole new line of products that we find we can't keep up with and end up going thru this process again...

so what DO we want?

We want our customers to be happy. We want them to know they can count on us to have their favourites pretty much any time they come in. We want them to come back regularly. We want them to tell their friends. We want to focus on lunch & dinner, and special desserts for in-house service.

Any suggestions on how we do ALL that?

thoughts are welcome & encouraged.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


ok, so ya, i vented a little bit in that last post... hopefully i'm allowed and hopefully i didn't upset too many people.

i'll try to keep things more positive and upbeat... but fact is, sometimes this job is bloody hard and there are days when the thought crosses our minds to just stop... go get real jobs and have a paycheque again... and benefits (hm... i've never had a job with benefits... dunno if i could cope!)

thankfully, those moments are usually short-lived, and tempered with the knowledge that we actually do love what we're doing...

that whole line about doing what you love and the money will follow... i guess they never promised how close behind the money would follow... :D

but we're not really here for the money... i mean, it'd be nice if we didn't have to WORRY about how things were gonna get paid, but we're keeping our heads above water and it gets better every day... generally.

anyway - i just wanted to apologize for venting a little ... and reiterate how much we truly love and appreciate our customers - particularly the ones we see all the time who support us so amazingly, and help us out with honest feedback and helpful ideas... and the NEW ones who are just discovering us! Thanks for taking the trip off the beaten path and coming in our door!

Happy Sea-Cav!

Monday, July 20, 2009

bistro or bakery...

so, we knew when we made the decision to go for our vision that we might end up annoying a few people...

a few of the people who only come here for bread, specifically...

we knew that when we changed our hours and started achieving our goals that some people might not find that to their liking or convenience...

mostly those are the people who only come here for bread.

DON'T GET ME WRONG... we LIKE those people who only come here for bread, and we're grateful that they DO come here instead of going somewhere else... but we really do apologize for creating the concept that we are a bakery first... that was never our intention and from the get go - march 1, 2006 - we have been working at dispelling that myth.

yes, we bought a bakery... a bakery that happened to have fantastic recipes... and a ton of potential to become the bistro/restaurant that we'd spend the previous 6 years talking about and trying to realize...

now... if we'd been able to buy said bakery with a ton of extra cash available, we'd have gone directly to bistro without passing go, and we wouldn't have even needed the $200... but we didn't. We mortgaged our entire lives to scrape together enough to get us open and running... with just enough to manage on for the first few months.

this has been both a blessing and a curse.

as some of you may notice... restaurants that open with a big bang and a ton of capital outlay, don't always succeed... in new york city, for example, 1000 new restaurants open EVERY YEAR... and only 1 in 5 are still open at the end of that year...

we have been forced to grow only as quickly as cashflow has allowed - in many ways not a bad thing.

The curse: This resulted in being perceived as a bakery for a lot longer than we intended...
The blessing: it also gave us a long time to earn fantastic customers who come regularly for their bread and baked goods... and lunch... and NOW, dinner,too.

The curse: we've had to "make do" with old equipment, flatware we think is a bit ugly & pedestrian, 69cent mugs from the dollar store... etc
The blessing: we HAVE made do with old equipment, less than magazine quality flatware and 69cent mugs from the dollar store that have a certain funky charm about them...

The curse: we had to wash & sanitize dishes (which included, of course, muffin tins & cake pans & bread buckets & mixing bowls - all stainless, all requiring scrubbing with steel wool... every day... ) by hand for the first 18 months, which physically wore us out and severely limited how quickly we could grow
The blessing: we learned the importance of taking some financial risks to buy a dishwasher and other equipment... and that the adage of spending money to make money is very true

The curse: we often can't take advantage of sales on equipment that would really make our life more simple and/or efficient
The blessing: we don't buy stuff that we don't really really really need just because we can get it on sale

Even just today... i learned about an amazing financial management tool that could really help us improve cash flow and guide us thru the maze of when to spend how much on what... it's truly an incredible tool, which i would jump at... except that it costs a lot up front that i just don't have - even THO it could pay for itself in a few months and help us get AHEAD in not many more months further down the road...

but we don't have that big deep pocket backing us up... we dont even actually have a change dish beside the bed to back us up...

we've got our wits, our drive, our love of what we're doing, and our wicked-ass, amazing, loyal, supportive and delightful customers to keep us going... and slowly, bit by bit, we claw our way up and out of the pit, and eventually we'll build a little hill of "extra" cash (is there really such a thing as extra cash??) that might allow us to buy that new fridge or pay for an ad, or heaven help us, take a vacation, even!?

Anyway, the point i was getting to... and yes, i'm sure if you've read more than one post here, you've noticed it can take a while to get anywhere... we have strived for 3 years to become a bistro and are finally there in our eyes, while we now can probably count on another 3 years trying to convince everyone else.

So, we apologize if the bread isn't ready at 10am... seeing as we're not open til 10:30 we're ok with that... we apologize if the bread isn't ready at noon... in fact we apologize that we're not making bread every day...

fact is... we're not a bakery. we've never wanted to BE a bakery... we're a bistro that happens to bake enough bread that we have some left over to sell...

and we'll be super happy when the general perception of who/what we are changes out there too... we know it will take time, and sadly it also means we'll likely lose some customers who are not prepared or willing to change along with us... but hopefully they'll find somewhere else to get what they want when they want it, and the folks that ARE willing to come along with us will do so and allow us to continue living our vision and enjoying it with us.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

summer frenzy

ok... so call us crazy but we've committed to minimum 12 hour days (which actually means 15-16 hour days when you count prep & cleanup) for at least the summer...

not sure what we were thinking except that we're finally doing what we wanted to be doing all along - serving great lunches & dinners & drinks at a great price to great people...

i'm thrilled to report that we've had a fantastic response to our "test runs"... the soft opening for dinners on the weekends... now, granted, many of the folk who turned out for those are already dedicated & loyal customers & friends, and maybe they were being nice, but we think we're onto a good thing here and really hope that EVERYONE will come give it a try.

Currently, the most expensive dish on the menu is $14 for a single serving... there is Machos for 4 for $30, but that's what... 7.50 each?

There will be the occasional special that goes over the $14 mark, but most mains will be in that close neighbourhood. Starters range from $5-10, and desserts max out at $6 for the most decadent...
Bar Drinks range from $5 up... which from what we can tell is about the best price in town (aside from specials) which was our intent all along. We're not "about" the drinks, they're simply to compliment the food... or provide a little relief from crazy summer heat on a blistering afternoon...

we're changing the approach to retail bread & dessert sales... THIS IS A BIG NOTE... Fresh bread will ONLY be made on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday...We welcome your orders in advance while we work out new daily quantity requirements.

All our bars & savory snacks will still be available for now, but soon you will just have to ask for your favourites, as we won't be displaying them as usual. (That said, anyone need a 6' display cooler? $1000 obo).

Lunch menu will evolve a bit further... will likely add lunch size options of some more popular dinner items and a couple hot appetizers to the existing menu... that remains to be seen precisely.

your comments & feedback are welcome - even the negative stuff... in FACT, we LIKE to know the negative stuff so we have an opportunity to address it. We can't fix what we don't know is broken... right? Complete our survey, if you like... we'd appreciate it.

we look forward to seeing your smiling faces come visit us for lunch & dinner...

kera & ian

Monday, May 18, 2009

licensed to take it up a notch!

Well... FINALLY! After a long haul that began in September 2008, we have FINALLY got our liquor license!!

This is such an exciting step in our evolution...

When we bought "wild blueberry bakery" back in March 2006, we had a long term vision. Neither of us ever had dreams of owning a bakery... neither of us are "bakers", least of all me.. Ian has always made bread, and does 90% of the cooking at home... but i was never one of those super-domestics who made cookies & cakes, and fancy desserts just for the heck of it. Give me a reason to throw a party and I'll dust off my culinary chops, but frankly, I got pretty lazy when ian came along and started doing all the cooking!

anyway, the vision from day one was a bistro - bustling with great people, notorious for a wicked wine & scotch list, loved for the interesting and delicious but not expensive food, and simply a great place to be. We think we're getting there.

Ian & I have two favourite restaurants always in mind when we discuss our vision... Ian's is "Amalfi" in Adelaide, South Australia, and mine is "Pagliacci's" in Victoria, BC... our intention is to take the best things of those two places and put our own stamp on them to create Wild... in it's full expression.

We're gettin' there.

We still have a ways to go - there's more construction & decor that need to evolve, there's a bigger bar list that needs to build up, there's a regular menu that needs to be set, and specials that need to be invented... but those will all come together over the next few months... and from there, it's all gravy.

We couldn't have gotten this far without our wonderful customers. I hope you all know that! You are the reason we exist, and we hope that we treat you like that every day... and that if we don't, you'll let us know!

Your support, understanding, empathy, feedback, word-of-mouth and recommendations are all so very important to us. Your suggestions & requests are not taken lightly. Of course we can't possibly accommodate EVERYTHING, but we really do our best to find the balance that fits with our vision and your needs.

So, our hours will be changing on JUNE 8th...
New hours: Monday thru Saturday, 10:30am-10:30pm
We'll see how that works for the summer...

We'll look forward to seeing you!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

busy is good... thanks for all your help with that!

I'm delighted to make note of the fact that things have been pretty busy... busy enough, at least, that taking the time to post a blog has been difficult.

there's been a lot of activity over the past month... a couple great coffeehouses, a chocolate tasting, some meetings, a special performance date with Twisted String, some renovations... and the liquor license got submitted...

so - update...

liquor inspector is making a special trip - and I cannot tell you how much we appreciate her doing so - on Apr 29 to do our "establishment inspection" and "education"... if we pass that and she approves our license, we could be selling drinks by May 1!!

we've got more great coffeehouse lineups in store...

a Cinco De Mayo Fiesta on ... yes, May 5... because it's simply an excellent excuse to have a party and introduce some of our upcoming mexican tapas, and our plan for regular mexican nights...
(check the website for details -

another chocolate tasting with Le Petite Souris... Dark Chocolate this time, in time for Mother's Day... bring your mom and get a little decadent on the dark side.

We're hoping to having the patio finished in time for May long weekend... need some steel fabrication done to hold up the awning, and need to acquire/build tables/benches that can STAY outside... See it... margaritas on the patio... come on... how great will that be?!?

Continued renovations (minor) & reconfiguration of the kitchen...

A few new decor changes & additions...

Possibly a big-ass flat screen TV too... for those special events that require TV, or hockey play offs, or seminars that require a presentation... we've got lots of plans... are you ready??

We'd love to have input and help, too... if you are interested in volunteering to coordinate events or do publicity, or sew curtains, or paint... we'd love to have your help!

We're just so EXCITED!

It's all coming together, and we're seeing new customers every day, and we're really, truly grateful for the love and support that our friends (aka fabulous customers) give us on a daily basis... bringing your friends for the first time, telling colleagues, sharing our food with your neighbours... all those "little" things that you think of to do on our behalf are so generous and delightful... we couldn't be where we are, nor on the path we're on, without you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

forward & upward...

one more step toward the vision... the liquor license application has been submitted! YAY! According to the liquor board rep i spoke with, it should be a fairly quick approval process as, strangely enough, our application was complete... why would anyone submit an incomplete application??

anyway... with the liquor license comes other changes, which are yet to be finalized and a date for which has yet to be determined...

but what changes, you might ask?

well, new hours, for starters... not entirely certain what those will be yet, but we're pretty sure they will not include opening at 8am anymore... unless there's a wild protest. You see, mornings are not our busiest time. In fact, mornings are more often than not, quite quiet before 10am. Especially saturdays, which is weird. But I suppose since we don't serve actual breakfast, that's not THAT weird.

We're really on the fence about it... we don't want to alienate those few but loyal customers who DO come thru our door before 10am, but at the same time, the cost of being open for them is much more than the revenue we generate from them... tho we enjoy their company and value their business, it doesn't really make financial sense.

Here's what we're thinking for hours, and we welcome your comments & feedback:
10:30am-2:30pm - open for lunch, then between 2:30-5:00 open just for snacks & coffee while we prep for dinner, 5:00-9/10/11 open for dinner... Our lease only allows us to be open until 11pm, and since we are below apartments, it's only fair to our neighbours that we be done business by then.

and so what about menu... might be your next question.

that's a surprise!
but we'll tell you this - there will be a good selection of appetizers, salads & desserts, with a small selection of constant mains and then a list of "features" that will change as inspiration comes... mains will be available in single size and share size, as will some of the appy's... per person pricing for things like antipasto platters & machos (yes, that's Machos... you'll see).

and the bar... expect a small and eclectic wine list with more reds than whites... import beer, premium spirits and a short cocktail menu with specials... and a rotating single malt scotch list.

at REASONABLE prices.
house wine will come in at under $5 a glass...
and no, it won't be Calona Red Table Wine

Above all, you can expect the same quality of great food & service at a middle of the road price... somewhere between McD's and Spence... a place where families are welcome, meals are filling, atmosphere is friendly, and the experience is one you'll choose to repeat regularly...

at least that's what we're aiming for.

And we trust you'll let us know how we're doing!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar night...

Who really cares about who wins... i mean, come on... does it matter one little bit in the grand scheme of things??? OF COURSE IT DOES... It's the perfect, non-secular, non-commercial (in that you don't have to buy a $7 greeting card), Sunday night excuse to have a spectacular dress up affair, eat fancy-schmancy food, drink champagne, and live vicariously through the rich & famous...

And we do it EVERY YEAR.

This will be our 10th annual oscar party... but our first "public" one... and I have to say I'm a little nervous. We've been so busy, I completely forgot about the idea of decorations! Now, we HAVE a red carpet, cuz that's a MUST... but outside of that, the crunch is on and today is d-day... got to get creative and decide how best to decorate this joint to give the illusion of glitz & glamour, cuz well, frankly, we're pretty much NOT glitz & glamour people, but for this one day a year.

I'm not worried about the food... that part i KNOW will be good... we've got some super yummy stuff prepared, and more on the way. And the sparkling shiraz won't go astray either... if you've never had it, then this is a great excuse to get out and try it!

And well... the dress... provided it still fits and i don't look like a fish wrapped in tin foil, we should be all good. Ian's suit has been dry cleaned - yes, you'll get to see Ian in a suit... no maple leaf or anything...

We've got some lovely prizes... many of our friends have come through with gifts for us to share and we're very grateful: Blackfish Pub, Carol Cares (Massage therapy), QT's Hair Design, People Skills Press, Wild Bistro, Penhallow's Pantry, La Petite Souris (chocolates!), Libre Tea, Myoga, Loumidees, Snowcap, some CDs, and other trinkets.

Whatever happens, it will be a good party. That's something we are pretty confident in - throwing parties that people enjoy.

So haul out your finery - or your most outrageous glamour duds... put Cher to shame if you must... and come celebrate with us! Sunday, Feb 22 - 4-10pm here at the bistro... $20 tickets must be reserved in advance (604.886.1917 or to reserve)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


so... were you here for Valentines? If you were, you'd have really gotten a taste of what's coming to wild...

The atmosphere was just so great... it was a defining moment for ian and i to realize just how close our vision is. It was exactly what we've had in mind all this time... tables full of people enjoying music, food & wine... for a reasonable price. I think the biggest bill of the evening was $80, for a complete dinner for 2 with a couple glasses of wine each..

ooh... and if you haven't had the opportunity to try our ossobuco yet... i think we've decided that it will be a regular menu feature. It's just SO GOOD... and we're very pleased to report that it didn't disappoint on valentines. What's ossobuco? slow cooked veal shank in white wine & chicken stock with veggies & spices... generally we cook it a minimum of 4 hours... the longer the better.

anyway, we're really excited about the direction we're going, and we hope that you'll come along with us.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

catering to your needs

Have i mentioned before that i love catering??

it's definitely one of the high points of this job... keeps it interesting and fun... and to be totally honest, is pretty good for the ego.

we catered a birthday party in a spectacular house in langdale last night. Mercifully, it went off pretty much hitchless - the weather was a bit of a bear, and we arrived a bit later than planned, but other than that it went really well.

why do i love catering?
- it's a little bit anal, it forces me to be more organized than usual
- it's outside the daily routine, and as anyone who knows me knows... routine is NOT my thing
- it's usually a little "fancier" than what we make for lunch
- it pushes my boundaries for stress management
- it gets me out of the bistro
- it requires extreme team effort and cooperation
- it pays well
- it's gratifying to know you've helped someone throw a great event, and made them look good by providing great food
- hearing comments like "ridiculously good", "heavenly", "oh my god that is amazing" is kinda good for the ego.

Catering private parties, in private homes, is probably my favourite challenge...
pulling off lots of food for lots of people in an unfamiliar kitchen with no access to "what you might need" is exciting. It's frustrating sometimes, but when organized well, it's mostly exciting... thus the cause for being organized! If you don't bring EVERYTHING you need, it's a lot harder.

The other cool part about private parties in private homes is that you get inside some pretty fabulous houses... and being one who appreciates architecture and design, that is a definite bonus for me.

The house last night was amazing... huge, beautifully decorated, every possible convenience, spectacular view... the type of house i'd dream of owning, but hold very little hope of ever achieving. Catering doesn't pay QUITE that much!

But it's good to have dreams...

anyway... wanna know the menu from last night? it was very well selected by the hostess:

- onion confit & ricotta tarts
- chili lime & garlic shrimp cakes
- mini mac & cheese with gorgonzola & truffle oil
- chili garlic mushrooms
- fresh baked baguette with sweet chili cheese dip and hot spinach & crab dip
- mini spanakopita

then as the main,
- ossobuco with roasted garlic risotto and steamed asparagus

they brought a gorgeous cake from Anna's Cake Shop in vancouver. I must admit i was a bit relieved to not have to provide the cake too... it was a lot of work just doing that food for 40.

what's ossobuco?? braised veal shank, essentially... it's slow, slow cooked till it falls off the bone and the highlight is the marrow in the shank bone itself... you suck that out cuz it's really really yummy. it's quite an impressive looking food, big round chunks of meat wrapped around bone that takes on the colours from the sauce - which is simply white wine, chicken stock, some basic veggies, garlic, rosemary and pepper. It's simple simple food, and absolutely delicious.

so, that's why i love catering... it's fun, it's different, it makes people happy.

having a party? call us...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

carpooling to wild?

so... if you've driven by at lunch time in the last few days, you may have noticed a PACKED parking lot!

I WISH I could say that's because we were busy...
Sadly it's not the case.

The Salvation Army has made a decision to hold their AA Meetings from 12-1:30pm DAILY... this is the cause of the full lot.

It puts us into a bit of a dilemma... we of course want to support the SA and AA, and the food bank (whose beneficiaries also fill the parking lot regularly)... but it's costing us business.

We can scarcely afford to have our regular customers drive up and find nowhere to park, and thus decide to go up the road to the wheatberries or wherever...
But how do we still be neighbourly without creating a huge ruckus??

If you have a suggestion, please share... we don't want to be cranky or whiny, but this cannot continue much longer. It's 12:30 on Tuesday as I write this and the parking lot is full to capacity and we have 3 tables!

Certainly there are going to be days when it's slow for us - we're not packed full every day by any means - but when our potential for business is cut off by a full parking lot, what are we to do??

that's my whine & rant for the day.
i'm done now.
carry on.