The Farm Table Inn has won the Business of the Year Award in the 2020 Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce’s Business & Community Excellence Awards ceremony that was held on Oct. 24.
The chamber notes that the business, owned by George Gates and Evelyn Koops, has only been in business a short time but is already a well-known fixture in the community.
“They are known for their delicious meals, their cozy B&B and their convenient off-site catering,” the chamber said in a release.
“George Gates and Evelyn Koops are big supporters of community events, businesses and organizations. They also volunteer and serve on organizational boards such as the chamber, Tourism Cowichan and Accommodations West.”
The chamber said 2020 was not an easy year for restaurants, but Farm Table Inn responded to every new challenge with an innovative new idea.
“They expanded their dining to online and take-away orders, and they opened the Farm Store, a quaint store filled with homemade delicacies,” the chamber said.
“Farm Table Inn’s strong involvement in the community, delicious meals and adaptability to challenges makes them a wonderful example of just one of the many great businesses that help make the Cowichan Lake area such a great place to live.”
Ed’s Coffeehouse took home the 2020 Excellence in Customer Service award at the ceremony.
The chamber said the business has also been in business just a short time, just two years, but has already become well-loved by the community.
“Owners Ed Ufnal and Katherine Deveau always go the extra mile to provide a welcoming environment for their customers, even hosting outdoor movie nights in the summer and frequently providing live music,” the chamber said.
“Ed and Katherine are always friendly, and their delicious snacks and beverages are loved by all. They also help local artists get their work out there by providing them space to display their art. Ed’s Coffeehouse is a great supporter of community events. Their high quality of customer and community service is so appreciated by the Cowichan Lake community.”
Ufnal said he was pleased when he found out he had won the award.
“We’re happy that the business is successful and feel lucky that we have some really great customers,” he said.
“Our staff is also fantastic and help the business run really smooth. We’re honoured to win this award.”
Lake Cowichan’s Country Grocer was the winner of the 2020 Above and Beyond Award.
The chamber said the family-owned business consistently does just that to help the community.
“Country Grocer makes sure the community is safe during power outages and emergencies, donates to many fundraising events and organizations, and provides exceptional customer service,” the chamber said.
“When the pandemic struck, Country Grocer introduced a time slot (7-8 a.m.) for seniors and immune-compromised people to shop. They also hired extra cleaning staff to ensure the store is as sanitized as possible. They work hard to keep the community safe, vibrant and well stocked, and their efforts are much appreciated by the Cowichan Lake community.”
Jen Pollner, the manager at Country Grocer said it was a “wonderful honour” to win the award.
“We have a great team here that really cares about this community,” she said.
“All during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were extra diligent with our cleaning and sanitizing, and followed all the safety protocols while staying open at full hours.”
OK Tire & Auto Service (Darling Tire Ltd.), which has been in operation since 1961, took home the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.
The chamber noted that, as an essential service, OK Tire stayed open throughout 2020, quickly adapting to the new safety protocols while remaining as friendly and professional as ever.
“Owners Rose and Dave Darling are stalwart community fixtures, volunteering on various organizations, such as the Cowichan Lake Figure Skating Club, Cowichan Lake Community Forest Cooperative, the CVRD Parks Commission, the Medford Singers and more,” the chamber said.
“OK Tire also frequently donates items to worthy causes in the community. Their constant dedication to the community — truly a lifetime of exemplary service — is appreciated by the Cowichan Lake community.”
Dave Darling said the family’s commitment to Lake Cowichan began in 1961 when his father Earl, who would later become mayor of Lake Cowichan for two terms, built and opened the service station.
“I came on board in 1975 and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.
“It was very nice to be recognized with this award and I’ll display it proudly in my shop.”
The volunteers at the Lake Cowichan Food Bank Society are the winners of the Volunteer of the Year Award.
“The Lake Cowichan Food Bank looks after marginalized families and individuals, ensuring they have a safety net,” the chamber said.
“Throughout the pandemic, the volunteers at the food bank have continued to serve the community ensuring that those in need were not forgotten. The Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce is so thankful for the volunteers of this deserving organization.”
Katherine Worsley was named the 2020 Citizen of the Year.
She said she was humbled to receive the award.
“It was unexpected, but I’m honoured to receive it,” she said.
“I’ve always put myself out there in the community through my work and as a volunteer at the food bank, Elks, Lions, the Cowichan Lake River Stewardship Society and other organizations. I help where I can.”
Sisters Eliza and Stella Feltrin, who are eight and six respectively, won the Youth of the Year Award.
The chamber said the sisters are entrepreneurs in the community who helped a family in need in 2020 by setting up a firewood stand, selling craft bags, holding a garage sale and other fundraisers with much of the proceeds going to the family.
“Their actions were noticed in the community and people sent the chamber nominations for the sisters to receive the Youth of the Year Award,” the chamber said.
The girls’ mother Scarlett said Eliza and Stella wanted to help a friend who has muscular dystrophy buy a scooter, and worked hard to help contribute to the efforts of the friend’s family to buy one.
“They were very excited and surprised to have won the award and have already hung it up on their bedroom wall,” she said.
“It’ll be interesting to see what Eliza and Stella do in this world when they’re older.”