A sit down with Peter Wood, of Bear and Joey Cafe

A sit down with Peter Wood, of Bear and Joey Cafe

Boulevard Magazine chats with Peter Wood

  • Aug. 5, 2020 9:05 a.m.

~ Lia Crowe ~

“It was different,” Peter Wood says with a smile and a shrug when asked about opening a cafe in the thick of a global pandemic. “In some ways our timing wasn’t the worst. For a long time I was thinking, ‘this is going to be a disaster!’ We were finally at the point when we were ready to open and then a pandemic hits. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth.”

But like any good entrepreneur, Peter quickly pivoted to a pared-down menu focused on takeout and says he’s been pretty “chuffed” by the positive response.

Officially open since early May, Bear and Joey Cafe, where I meet owner Peter to chat life and style, is a beautiful space. It’s like nothing I’ve seen in Victoria before: gleaming in gold, green and pastels, playful and fresh and idly waiting to delight this city.

READ MORE: Growing passion

As we sit inside the cafe on one of the days it’s closed, Peter has to smile and wave his apologies to a steady stream of would-be customers coming up to the door and hoping for a flat white or perhaps Bear and Joey’s incredible granola bowl.

Peter grew up in Sydney, Australia (more specifically, in the northern beaches), where he met his now wife who is originally from Vancouver Island.

“In Sydney, I had two cafes and a pizzeria with a few partners. I studied business and property and worked in residential sales, commercial property management, as well as for a property developer. But I had an awakening, and realized that hospitality is my true passion. I started looking to do a restaurant overseas and when I came to Canada to meet my girlfriend’s parents, I saw Victoria and thought, this is a no-brainer. So we started putting the wheels in motion to move here.”

Now after three years in Victoria, Peter’s vision has become a reality with Bear and Joey. Asked to describe how his approach is different, Peter says, “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but our food program is about light, balanced, healthy and colourful dishes, paying attention to gluten free, vegan and vegetarian. Australian cafe culture is coffee every morning and a simple breakfast grab-and-go, so you can eat off our menu many times a week and feel good about it.”

And what inspired the style of the cafe? “We were always going to go with pastels, perhaps a bit mid-century modern. We wanted something youthful, not formal, something inviting. We really want to delight the few and that was our thought process behind everything.”

Like every business owner, I assume, Peter must wear many hats, and I wonder what specific aspect of his work gets him fired up the most?

“Service,” he says. “Front row centre, service: seeing people delighted, choosing us and walking away happy. I have a thought process about what people will enjoy and then I get all the moving parts together. Like the staff we have now, they are super friendly, enthusiastic, all-round lovely people. Team them up with skilled chefs, and then there’s the room…and when people walk away happy I think, ‘We did it; job done!’ That’s what gives me goosebumps. It’s not an ego thing; it’s being confident in what you’re doing and confident that you can please people, and then delivering an all-round experience. That’s what service front row centre is and it’s a great feeling.”

READ MORE: Flight Attendant to Kelowna’s Plumbing Queen

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Lifestyle

Just Posted

Desmond (Casey) Peter serves salmon and hamburgers to the waiting crowd at the Cowichan Tribes’ celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes celebrates National Indigenous People’s Day

First Nation members gather for day of fun and remembrance

The Crofton Pool will reopen July 2. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Lifeguard services returning to Fuller Lake Park, Crofton Pool

Summer schedule starting after hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic

Sierra Acton, regional district director for Shawnigan Lake. (file photo)
New parkland in Shawnigan creating connections

Used to created parking for the popular Masons Beach Park

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: This could be the worst thing done to you during the pandemic

As a result, all of us will contend with more ‘scarcity’ thinking and mindset.

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

CELEBRATING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
Council members and witnesses from the Hupacasath First Nation, left, and Tseshaht First Nation, right, prepare to raise their respective flags in front of Port Alberni City Hall on Monday, June 21, 2021. The flags will permanently fly as part of the city’s reconciliation work. See more coverage from the flag raising ceremony on page A5. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Vancouver Island First Nations flags to fly permanently at city hall

Addition of flags are one Port Alberni response to reconciliation

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

The Somass Sawmill sits idle in early May 2021. While the kilns have been in use occasionally, and the lot has been used to store woodchips this spring, the mill has been curtailed since July 27, 2017. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni to expropriate Somass Sawmill from Western Forest Products

Sawmill has been ‘indefinitely’ curtailed since 2017

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

Most Read