Erin Ireland’s ‘To Live For’ bakery and cafe is now ‘softly open’ at 1508 Nanaimo Street, with plans to officially open for regular hours this weekend.
As we reported back in June, the 1800sqft space and 18-seat cafe has a generously sized production bakery that will allow Ireland to further develop her brand (the To Live For line is currently available in 150 cafes and shops throughout the Lower Mainland, and demand is still growing).
I took a look inside the finished cafe yesterday afternoon. Although narrow, the bright room still feels spacious, with window seating, a counter service area, alcoves, a kid’s table, and open views of the kitchen. As captivating as a window to the activity of a busy kitchen is, it is no match for the guiles of appetite-inducing display cases loaded with baked goods (think Ireland’s famous banana bread, lemon loaves and killer salted double chocolate cookies, plus a full-on bread and pastry program including sourdough bread, croissants, pain au chocolate and cinnamon buns developed with French-trained GM/Pastry Chef Thibault Champel). There will also be a rotating variety of cookies and bars, dairy-free soft serve ice cream, decorated 4″, 6″, 8″ and 12″ cakes, and a top-notch coffee program (the dirty chai made with Counterpart Coffee is already a personal favourite).
You can grab a breakfast sandwich, some granola or overnight oats starting at 7am, or slip in later in the day for a Spent Grounds drip coffee and a treat. To Live For will be open 7am-5pm, seven days a week.
Congratulations to everyone on the opening team, including:
Erin Ireland (Owner)
Darren Yada (Head of Business Development)
Thibault Champelx (Executive Chef)
Fabrizio Busso (GM)
Andrea Polz (Assistant GM & Head Cake Decorator)
Ryan Smith (Coffee Program)
And a skilled crew of kitchen staff (give them a thumbs-up through the viewing window when you visit)
If this is the first you are reading of it, here’s what I wrote about the new spot earlier in the summer, plus a bunch of shots from yesterday:
To go from selling an established line of baked goods out of a commissary kitchen to opening a brick-and-mortar cafe takes guts – even when you are Erin Ireland and can look to a twelve-year track record of meeting the demands of a loyal following for reassurance. That’s why it was particularly inspiring to meet with the maker of ‘Vancouver’s favourite banana bread and champion of the plant-based lifestyle, at what is soon to be the first location of To Live For Cafe in order to to watch her take the proverbial ‘leap’.
As we enter the space to take a quick look around, Ireland admits: “I’m a bit terrified…I’m still in shock that it’s actually happening (I never ever pictured being a bakery owner growing up) but also so excited…I think I’ll be living in the kitchen for the first year. I’m excited to meet customers and be very hands on.”
Right now the voluminous space is filled with loads of natural light and very little else, but the concrete on concrete aesthetic seen in the pictures below is only temporary. The build-out, which will involve a production kitchen, counter space, display cases, and seating for 18, will begin within the next week or two….
[Once open], and taking a page from her pals at The Juice Truck, Ireland also hopes to eventually host pop-ups with other plant-based entrepreneurs and use her Nanaimo Street square footage for fun community-oriented events. “We truly want this to be a hub within the community,” she says.
“I’ve always dreamt of a bakery location that’s a little bit off the beaten path. I’ve never pictured being on a bustling street. I love that we are in a somewhat quiet neighbourhood in the base of a small residential building, not too far from The Drive. I also love that it’s close to 1st Ave. and that there’s tons of easy parking so that people from all over the lower mainland have an easier time coming to visit.”