From tea to furniture: Companies that chose Vancouver for their first Canadian or North American locations in 2016

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      Can you guess where Seattle-based Starbucks opened up its first international location?

      Believe it or not, it was Vancouver. The location was at Gastown's Waterfront Station, which opened in 1987.

      Since that time, we've been lucky with a number of companies that have also chosen this West Coast spot as the site for their first locations in Canada or North America, such as Sweden's outdoor brand Fjällräven.

      Here's a quick look at some examples from this past year, including some that are about to open, by companies that originate in Hawaii, Singapore, France, Japan, and Indonesia.

      Honolulu Coffee

      This Honolulu-based company, which owns an 80-acre farm in Hawaii, decided to enter the mainland market by opening its first North American location (Hawaii is considered part of Oceania, not North America) here in Vancouver at 888 Nelson Street in June.

      The company's range of Hawaiian coffees and desserts were an instant hit.

      Honolulu Coffee Vancouver

      But there's more in store. The company, which has locations in Hawaii, Guam, China, and Japan, will be opening up two more locations: one at Broadway and Cambie, and another in Kerrisdale.

      TWG Tea

      It's not just coffee companies that look to Vancouver to establish their first bricks-and-mortar locations.

      TWG Tea

      The Singaporean luxury tea brand TWG Tea, whose name stands for The Wellbeing Company, opened its first North American shop on December 8 at 1070 West Georgia Street (previously where the Urban Tea Merchant was).

      The 50-seat spot includes a tea salon, retail boutique, and patisserie counter (featuring tea-infused sweets).

      Yah Yah Ya Ramen

      This Japanese ramen house, which has four locations in Japan, opened its first North American location in Richmond in 2014.

      Yah Yah Ya Ramen

      But thanks to Metro Vancouver's insatiable appetite for noodles, it opened its second local location in downtown Vancouver at 570 Robson Street in November.


      Vancouver is the first North American city to have this French cabinetmaker open a shop in.


      Located at 1028 Mainland Street in Yaletown, the 3,000-square-foot shop offers everything from tables and chairs to tableware and lighting fixtures.


      While Moissonnier may have given Vancouver a taste of Parisian décor, this sweet spot literally gave Vancouverites a literal taste of Paris.

      Tammy Kwan

      The luxury bakery Ladurée, which has locations across Europe and Asia, opened its first Canadian location at 1141 Robson Street on March 24.

      Bathed in harmonious pastels, the 16-seat tea salon serves up a delectable array of macarons, sweet and savoury items, and tea.

      L'Éclair de Génie

      More French sweetness is on the way.

      L'Éclair de Génie

      L'Éclair de Génie, which has locations in France, Italy, Hong Kong, and Japan, is gearing up to open at 1210 Robson Street this spring.

      The French bakery offers a decadent array of éclairs, from raspberry cream to mascarpone, along with other sweet items.  

      The Holy Crab

      Also on the way on the same street is an Indonesian-based company that specializes in Louisiana-inspired seafood that's meant to be eaten with mallets and bare hands.

      The Holy Crab

      The Holy Crab is set to open at 1588 Robson Street though an opening date hasn't been announced yet.