Chocolate Pearl has been named the Business of the Year for 2019 by the DDBIA to the delight of owners Cheryl and Nigel Yonge. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: Duncan’s Chocolate Pearl wins Best Business of the Year award

Chocolate Pearl, Costa Canna, Black M, Chemainus Public Market

Chocolate Pearl has been named the Business of the Year for 2019 by the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area.

Owned by Nigel and Cheryl Yonge and in business on Craig Street since 2017, Chocolate Pearl has made a name for itself with its handmade and quality chocolates served in a boutique-style store.

Cheryl has a background as a graphic designer and Nigel has worked in branding and advertising and the couple worked together to create the unique ambience of the shop.

“But the proof is in the pudding and we work hard to create a variety of high-quality chocolates in which we use top-of-the-line ingredients that we acquire locally as much as possible,” Nigel said.

The Yonges lived in North Vancouver for 20 years where, they say, a chocolate culture had developed in that community before they moved to Duncan and started their own chocolate shop.

Cheryl is originally from Duncan and Nigel is from the Saanich Peninsula so they are pleased that they were able to come home to fulfill their dream of going onto business together.

“There was nothing like this shop in Duncan and we’re pleased that we’re being recognized by the DDBIA for our efforts,” Cheryl said.

The Chocolate Pearl recently reopened after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently operating Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nigel said, when warranted, the store will extend its hours and open Mondays as well.


Costa Canna, a partnership headed by Cowichan Tribes, will be opening its second retail cannabis store in the Valley at the Cowichan Commons on June 20.

Costa Canna opened its first cannabis store in the Duncan Mall last year, and company president Phil Floucault said discussions are underway that could see two more locations in Colwood and Saanich.

“We work tirelessly to provide knowledge transfer of the healing aspects of cannabis to all of our clients,” Floucault said

“The team at Costa Canna continually gives back to our community by providing standing discounts to seniors, veterans and medicinal patients alike. Furthermore, our focus on weekly giveaways and product specials provides options for all those on fixed incomes.”

Floucault said Costa Canna’s continued efforts as a recognized essential service has brought new challenges to its business and front-line employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have implemented special measures as set out by the province to ensure safety to our staff and customers, ensuring we can stay the course and continue to provide this vital service to our community,” he said.

“The entire team at Costa Canna is very thankful for the guidance and leadership we have received from the chief and council of the Cowichan Tribes. Our success stems from their dedication to this partnership.”

The doors open at the new shop, located at 2951 Green Rd., at 10 a.m. on June 20, and there will be giveaways, prizes and product discounts for all patrons.


Tired of the regular fare that is served in most fast food franchises, Mike Hallatt and his sister Sue are in the process of converting the old gas station on Cowichan Lake Road in Lake Cowichan into a unique restaurant that he hopes will appeal to those looking for tasty and healthy hamburgers and meals.

Hallatt said the best meat is raised in natural settings and he and Sue have set their sights on Russian wild razorback boars that live in the forests of northern Saskatchewan.

“The boars were brought into the country about 30 years ago, but many have escaped and now form a wild population,” he said.

“It’s legendary meat from the ancestors of today’s pigs, but it’s a different kind of meat than pig.”

Hallatt said there is currently no industry to buy the boar meat from, so he has organized the means to transport them live to an abattoir in Courtenay where they will be butchered, with the meat provided to the restaurant as fresh as possible.

He said the intent is to also use as many vegetables that are locally grown as possible for his hamburgers, including a special type of tomato that is grown in the area and is known for its taste.

Hallatt said he hopes to have the restaurant, which will be called Black M, opened by July.


The Chemainus Public Market is now open seven days a week, but on a limited basis for the initial start-up.

Monday, June 1, marked the first official day for the public to check out the market, even though all the components of the site aren’t up and running yet and social distancing measures must be followed.

“We have a couple of table vendors coming and one of our permanent vendors,” said Market manager Laurie Douglas of Monday’s debut.

“The rest of the vendors will be here by the 15th of June.”

An announcement will be made later about opening dates for Archie’s Ice Cream Parlour and Diner and Captain Andy’s Fish and Chips.

The eateries are expected to be popular features of the new market.

The arcade area is also open.

It’s a slow opening, but a long time coming and a welcome day for all those involved in the project within the heart of downtown Chemainus.

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