Logan MacQueen and Jessica Howarth, a brother-sister team, are the owners of the new Urban Forest Bistro that has opened on Kenneth Street in downtown Duncan. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Logan MacQueen and Jessica Howarth, a brother-sister team, are the owners of the new Urban Forest Bistro that has opened on Kenneth Street in downtown Duncan. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: Urban Forest Bistro opens on Kenneth Street in Duncan

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

A new restaurant specializing in paninis, soups and salads has opened at 23 Kenneth St. in downtown Duncan.

The Urban Forest Bistro is owned and operated by a brother-sister team; Logan MacQueen and Jessica Howarth.

MacQueen brings his culinary talents to the business, while Howarth takes care of the books and other responsibilities at the restaurant.

MacQueen is a Red Seal chef who trained at Vancouver Island University and has worked as a banquet chef at Duncan’s Ramada Inn and as a sous chef at Genoa Bay Cafe.

MacQueen was operating a crepe cart at a number of venues, including the Duncan and Cedar farmers’ markets, before he was forced to shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

“We then began focusing on setting up the Urban Forest Bistro, but it took a lot longer that we thought it would,” he said.

“This is our first restaurant and we had a soft opening on Oct. 1 as we got the restaurant up and running, and another grand opening on Nov. 1 when we were more organized. Business has been good so far and we love operating in downtown Duncan.”

The Urban Forest Bistro opens Monday to Friday for breakfast at 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays.

Its morning menu includes such delights as a Hearty Breakfast Panini, which consists of a poached egg, smoked B.C. Gouda, thick-cut pork belly and arugula layered on true-grain focaccia with chipotle aioli.

The restaurant is open until 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and closes 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

It’s lunch-time menu includes a BLT, which is made of thick-cut pork belly, lettuce and sliced tomato on true-grain focaccia with the restaurant’s house-made garlic aiola.

••••

Two Cowichan Valley-based businesses are among the 15 winners in the Better Business Bureau serving Vancouver Island’s annual Torch Awards this year.

High Definition Roofing Ltd. in Duncan won in the Roofing Contractor category, and Shawnigan Lake’s The Super Plumber took home top prize in the Plumbers category.

“Each year our BBB honours businesses that go above and beyond when it comes to honest and ethical business practices and customer-service excellence,” said Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of BBB serving Vancouver Island.

“This year we would like to congratulate the…15 businesses for their outstanding commitment to our community. These businesses were nominated for a Torch Award by both their customers and other local businesses. The companies and their employees should be proud of their accomplishments.”

The winners were announced at a gala dinner and awards celebration that was held on Nov. 5 at the Union Club of B.C.

••••

This year’s Stuff the Truck campaign, a partnership between Save-On-Foods in Duncan and Juice FM, will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3.

People are encouraged to help Save-On-Foods and Juice FM stuff a truck with non-perishable food items at the grocery store on Trunk Road during the campaign, or contribute money, to help out the local food banks that help those less fortunate during the festive season this year.

The campaign is also holding a corporate challenge for businesses to participate.

Last year, the campaign raised enough money to pay for a record-breaking 528 pallets of food for the region’s food banks during Christmas time.

The Duncan Lions Club played a big part in the successful campaign last year by contributing $5,000.

••••

According to the BC Check-Up: Work, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia on employment trends across the province, the unemployment rate in Vancouver Island and Coast (excluding Greater Victoria) fell to 6.0 per cent in Sept. 2021, down from 9.3 per cent in September, 2020.

“As the economy has gradually reopened and rebounded from the 2020 recession, businesses across the Island have been adding to their workforce,” said CPABC spokesman Woody Hayes.

“All told, the region added 5,600 employees over the past year. Still, employment remains just barely above pre-pandemic levels and has lagged behind population growth.”

As of September 2021, total employment across Vancouver Island and Coast (excluding Greater Victoria) reached 211,600, a 2.7 per cent increase compared to September, 2020.

As a result, the region’s employment nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, down by 300 positions compared to September, 2019.

However, that lagged significantly behind the working age population growth of 10,200 over the same period.

Due to that, the region’s unemployment remains well above the 4.8 per cent set in September 2019.

In addition, the region has seen its labour participation decline to 56.1 per cent in September, 2021 compared to 57.6 per cent in September, 2020.

••••

Catalyst Paper, a Paper Excellence company, has won a SmartWay Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an industry leader in freight supply chain environmental performance and energy efficiency.

Catalyst, which owns the Crofton mill, partners with SmartWay carriers that share the same values in environmental leadership, according to a release.

These carriers invest in energy efficient lightweight equipment that allows Catalyst to plan and load equipment to maximum capacity to reduce the number of trucks and railcars shipped.

Catalyst Paper was one of 12 shipper and logistics companies to receive this distinction, representing the best environmental performers of SmartWay’s nearly 4,000 Partners.

“I’m proud of our logistics team and the staff at the Surrey Distribution Centre for achieving this SmartWay designation and their outstanding performance this year focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through more efficient shipping,” said Hamish Doughty, Catalyst’s vice president, supply chain.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Business