Urban Forager

Brett Turner and Olivia Fobert of Joy Road Catering are starting to renovate their soon-to-be pop up on Main Street.

Like the spring bulbs waiting it out underneath all the snow, the resilience in nature is also mirrored in our drinking and dining landscape.

Small, independent businesses have managed — incredibly — to pivot and stay relevant. Many food-related businesses are not only thriving, but expanding. Here are a few on my radar, with more to come. Stay tuned.

In downtown Penticton, Main Street is getting a much-needed injection of vibrancy.

In the 200 block the trend has been ignited by the newest location of Tickleberry’s with their signature ice cream, giftware, preserves and coffee.

Across the street, David Mullner and Celine Nativel of Maison Mulnati, have found a bigger home for their sweet, chocolatey atelier. The vegan chocolatiers are thrilled at the prospects of walk-by traffic and a more visible presence.

With three times the space of their former locale, they’re settling in nicely with a projected March 1 opening. The new space, with upgraded electricity and plumbing, will feature a glassed-in area to watch chocolate-making in action, and slick showcases offering an array of vegan and organic pastries, cookies — with lots of gluten-free choices — and more chocolates, including bars, along with coffee beverages.

Ryan and Connie Oickle of Gratify are moving to bigger digs in the 500 block. This will be the third move in four years for the young entrepreneurs, known for their delicious vegan and gluten-free desserts. The extra space will allow them to fulfill their goals of increased production and distribution, and offer customers a smoothie bar, great coffee and seating, along with an expanded grocery line such as dairy-free ice cream, freshly baked GF bread and healthy additions for smoothie aficionados. The move takes place in April, and with renovation luck, a grand opening in May.

Right across the street, in the former Craft Corner Kitchen space, Brett Turner and Olivia Fobert are carving out their exciting Joy Road Catering pop-up. (While they still have plans for their forever home on Winnipeg Street, some structural engineering is still in the works.)

In the meantime, the couple are working feverishly for their slated May opening, taking the immense space from dreary to dazzling. Removing existing fixtures and equipment, fixing floors and updating electrical and plumbing, a thorough cleaning and a complete white paint job will set the stage, before they install sleek new kitchen equipment including a state-of-the-art deck oven, indoor and outdoor seating and shiny new showcases.

Everything will be either on wheels or can be easily removed until their future space is complete. Expect daily provisions, five days a week, and delicious catered affairs. A gorgeous seven-foot pastry case will hold all the favourites such as lemon tarts and cinnamon buns, to enjoy with coffee, and a glassed-in bread production area will allow you to view bakers making baguettes, buns, focaccia and other rustic farmhouse delights.

To further push forward the “culinary culture in the area” — and the city — Joy Road will also be creating “a kind of marketplace”, with an olive oil refill station, a selection of artisan cheeses, meats, local wine, beer and cider, exquisite preserves, and ingredients with the foodie in mind, plus the promise of a few al fresco dinners on the patio.

On Ellis Street, the Kapusty family-owned Highway 97 Brewing Co. are busy working on their new and spacious location. Housed in the former Mile Zero Wine Bar, the owners will be enjoying 400-percent more space than their highway location.

Projecting a mid-May opening, the brewery and tap room will increase their production, expanding on their “beers for every occasion” mandate. The room will feature 22 taps, along with wine and ciders and guest taps, with ample indoor and outdoor seating for guests, and a currently-in-the-works food program to accompany their craft quaffs. Nick Kapusty, operation manager and head brewer, promises Penticton something unique, and beer fans can now add another walking distance notch to their Penticton Ale Trail map.

At the Cannery Trade Centre, The Nest is staying put but continues to tweak and perfect their casual eatery. Chef Austin Acheson — formerly of Liquidity Bistro — retooled the menu bringing exciting new tastes and flavours to the lunch, dinner and brunch menus. And rising talent, 18-year old baker Sheyla Rodie, whips up sourdough breads and buns, along with daily yeasty features.

Owner and mixologist, Randy Foster, is now taking things a step further with sommelier and wine educator, Ron Rocher. Rocher will retool the Nest’s wine list with a local focus, honing in on “family-run, organic and boutique producers, and those expressing single varietals as much as possible”. With a goal of 22 wines total, with many by-the-glass, with pairing suggestions and tasting notes, the intention is for an elevated dining experience.

Rolling out March 1, Rocher will periodically be in attendance, interacting with guests and singing the praises of our local wine bounty.

With fork and pen in hand, and a passion for culinary adventure, Shelora Sheldan, writer, cook and curious traveller, goes in search of the delectable adventure.