Jason Stelmachovich says his White Rock restaurant has one of the best views in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Sitting just across the railroad tracks from the beach, Organic Connections Café (15622 Marine Drive) looks out at the waves and windsurfers of Semiahmoo Bay.
A 41-year-old flexitarian who lives in Surrey, Stelmachovich opened the organic restaurant in December 2010 with Beverly Ashworth. Since September 2011, he’s been the sole owner.
“A lot of people come in that are just happy to see a vegan place in the area—that are leading that lifestyle,” Stelmachovich told the Georgia Straight in the café. “Those are the people that have kept us afloat.”
The menu lists raw and cooked vegan items, including soups ($5 to $8), salads ($5 to $12), entrées ($10 to $15), desserts ($6 to $7), and smoothies ($7).
According to Stelmachovich, the raw pizza, topped with cashew cheese and Brazil-nut Parmesan; the cooked classic borscht; and the spicy warm red quinoa bowl are popular orders. For dessert, there’s blueberry, lemon, and mocha cheesecakes, all raw and made in house.
Organic Connections isn’t totally vegan, as it offers cow’s milk and honey for coffee and tea. Last summer, the café also served a veggie panini with nonvegan bread.
Stelmachovich said he’s been surprised by the support his business has received from the community. After the restaurant had a break-in, locals rallied to replace stolen goods. The café features donated furniture, and volunteers are pitching in to help it get to the “next level”.
“I think we’d be further along if we had some better marketing in the community,” Stelmachovich said. “I think the vegan community are aware that we’re here. But people outside of that community don’t know what we have offer, and they’re part our market as well—people that want to try a more vegan diet.”