After having my first baby, while living in downtown Vancouver, I grew to appreciate the coffee shop as a place to meet. My husband worked at home, our apartment was small, things were usually in a state of chaos, but I still craved fellowship with other moms. Within a short three-block radius, I could enjoy a nice hot drink at over five different coffee shops. I appreciated each Vancouver restaurant in a different way.
A Second Home
Then, a year after my second daughter was born, we moved to Kitsilano. My husband had gotten into the habit of taking our older daughter to a coffee shop for some one-to-one time, while I stayed home with the little one. He would read her picture books, play board games, use ABC flashcards and teach her card games like crazy eights. A short walk from our new place revealed a real find: The Wired Monk Coffee Shop on 4th. This Vancouver restaurant immediately became our second home.
The original owners were a nice young couple who loved children and who believed highly in great customer service. Extra whipped cream? No problem. Want a glass of wine? Please wait while I run down to Darby’s Liquor Store for a bottle. Entertainment was eventually offered at least three nights a week with Open Mic nights, poetry readings, local bands and sporting events on a flat screen TV. The owners would always greet us and other regulars with a smiling, “Hi, neighbour.”
Change of Ownership
Then the owners sold their Vancouver restaurant to a young gentleman and inevitably, things changed. But the fact that I could fit my jogging stroller comfortably inside, change my daughter’s diapers in a large bathroom with a change table, and have access to a high chair, remained the same. The new owner spent money on chairs – comfortable brown chairs to relax in, bar stools that could be raised and lowered, as desired, as well as more outdoor plastic ones. Our children would happily decorate the sidewalk with chalk, while my husband and I lingered over a steaming cup of a beverage of our choice on sunny days. We also appreciated the large container of strawberry water, or cucumber water or lemon water where we could help ourselves.
Now that my children are six and 10 years old, we have outgrown the diapers, the strollers, the high chairs and the picture books. But we still enjoy going to the Wired Monk. We still occasionally attend Open Mic nights, now held on Thursdays. We take our children to do homework there, as there are fewer distractions. Or the kids play cards together so we can relax and enjoy an adult conversation with each other.
Community at a Vancouver Restaurant
Recently, a friend and I were walking by on a Friday evening as a Spanish Dancer twirled on a makeshift stage. We went in for a cup of tea with our children and were encouraged by the performers to stay. The next act was a belly dancer, which the children enjoyed. After that, a gentleman played a Spanish guitar, and gradually my friend’s four-year-old’s head sank lower on the table as she fell asleep, soothed by the gentle sound. When we went home, everyone in the coffee shop called out, “Goodnight!” to us. Just as if we were all close friends or family. It felt really good.
What’s your favourite Vancouver coffee shop? Leave us a reply and let us know!
Elke Porter works for the Recycling Council of British Columbia as a Communications Consultant and does PR and Sales for Abco Film Production. Elke also writes for the Swiss Herald Newsletter and on her own blog, Westcoast German News.
The Wired Monk
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.