Friday, May 17, 2024

Brand new health-conscious café opening in Esquimalt’s West Bay this weekend (PHOTOS)


A brand new café with an ocean view is opening this Saturday, May 27th near West Bay Marina in Esquimalt that puts an emphasis on garnering a community around healthy, organic foods.

West Bay Café is owned and operated by Rox Thomas, a restaurateur who wanted nothing more than a place to serve delicious, organic food where people who are celiac, like her, can find a good meal without sacrificing flavour. 

Thomas moved to Victoria five years ago from Ontario where she previously ran a juice bar and fell in love with making food which made people feel happy and healthy.

“I was actually managing a little juice place called Village Juicery, and they’ve gotten really big now in Toronto,” Thomas told Victoria Buzz. 

After making the move to the west coast, Thomas brought her 20 years of experience in the food industry to Victoria and opened her own juicery outfit in the heart of Fernwood called Hearth, which was nestled in beside Little June and Stage on Gladstone Avenue. 

At Hearth, Thomas loved what she did but had little room to grow as a business and was unable to serve certain items because of competition clauses in her lease that prevented her from competing with her neighbouring businesses. 

Thomas says when she saw the new development on the corner of Head Street and Gore Street, she saw the opportunity to provide a new service to the people of Esquimalt, and Greater Victoria as a whole, who have similar dietary restrictions to her. 

“Because I couldn’t grow, I started looking elsewhere,” Thomas said. “I’ve just always wanted to have a shop near the ocean and I just love this neighbourhood so much.”

“I actually went to school to become a holistic nutritionist, and this is why I really wanted everything to be gluten free and vegan, because I’m celiac. I feel like being vegan and celiac, I have a really hard time finding a place to eat, so that’s why I created this.”

Exterior (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Inside West Bay Café (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)

Thomas has done a wonderful job at crafting a menu and sourcing ingredients that will leave vegans and non-vegans with smiles and a full belly as well as appeasing those who can and cannot eat gluten. 

The café’s menu is meant to change with the seasons, but for her grand opening, she offers three types of sandwiches, three wraps and three healthy and hearty bowls. The ciabatta veggie sandwich was a stand-out menu item which includes a delightful gluten-free ciabatta roll with tomato, pickled onion, spinach, smoked provolone “cheese” and a vegan basil aioli. It is served with a creamy vegan slaw topped with pea shoots and salsa.

For beverages, all coffee is sourced locally from a North Saanich company, Farm & Forest organic coffee roasters. She also is one of few cafés in Greater Victoria to offer Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee blends with lion’s mane and chaga mushrooms. 

“It’s half blended mushroom and half coffee, so you get all the benefits of the anti-oxidants and everything that super-mushrooms provide, but with half the dosage of caffeine,” Thomas told Victoria Buzz. 

“It’s really good for brain-health,” she added. 

Ciabatta veggie sandwich (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)
Tropical smoothie (Curtis Blandy/Victoria Buzz)

West Bay Café also specializes in organic-fruit smoothies, of which there are four flavours that are tropical, vanilla berry, chocolate and nourishing greens for those looking for an extra healthy option. Thomas has also found use for her years running juice shops. She freshly cold-presses juices into mason jars daily for those looking to have a healthy sip to go.

They also have an iced cappuccino and a vanilla cappuccino to help coffee lovers stay cool through the summer months.

For the sweet toothed gluten-free folks, West Bay Café serves gourmet treats like peppermint Nanaimo bars, matcha coconut bites and chocolate coconut bars. 

Thomas also has some retail items she’s either handmade herself, such as soaps and jewelry, or she’s handpicked to sell to people looking for organic-based self-care products like natural deodorants, incense, supplements and serums and lotions. 

The café boasts a sunny, dog-friendly patio that looks out over West Bay Marina, perfect for reading a book or catching up with an old friend and the inside of the café is a nice cool and calm place to visit or work on a project. 

Check it out and help West Bay Café celebrate their grand opening on Saturday, May 27th!

West Bay Café

  • Where: Unit 108 – 474 Head Street
  • When: 
    • Grand opening on Saturday, May 27th, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Regular hours may vary
Curtis Blandy

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