By Eva Rasciauskas
Walking into your local cafe can be like walking into a second home. When everything is done right, the place has everything you need—freshly baked loaves of bread, a beautiful assortment of pastries and, of course, an espresso bar that makes your coffee just the way you like it.
And that’s what you get when you walk into Small Victory Bakery, winner of the Golden Plate Awards’ Best Independent Coffee Shop in Vancouver for 2023.
“It makes me smile immensely,” Afshan Nathoo, CEO and co-founder of Small Victory Bakery, tells the Straight in an interview.
The South Granville coffee shop, which is celebrating its 10th birthday this year, has expanded over the years to add stores in Yaletown and Burnaby, bringing its impossibly buttery croissants to neighbourhoods across the metro.
“I have a big team behind me so I feel extremely grateful that the team has taken us this far,” Nathoo says.
Small Victory also placed second among the city’s Best Bread Bakeries and second again for South Granville’s top businesses, cementing its status as the perfect neighbourhood coffee shop that carries everything you need to start your day.
“It’s the morning ritual that’s so important to us,” Nathoo says. “We want to be a part of people’s lives and daily routines. Our intent from the beginning was to make an impact at the community level.”
The cafe has a bright and spacious atmosphere with a modern, industrial design. Large groups dining in for breakfast are coupled with individuals sitting at the coffee bar working away on their laptops. The service is quick and efficient, allowing you to quickly grab and go, or stay as long as you please (though tables are to an hour during busy periods).
What you may notice first is a striking line up of pastries and baked goods. Items range from a classic pain au chocolat to croissant donuts stuffed with pistachio cream, cakes, tarts, and hearty breads like seeded whole-wheat and crusty baguettes.
Craving something a little more substantial? Small Victory has that too. Doubling as a takeout counter and dine-in cafe, it also serves brunch staples like avocado toast, or waffles with mascarpone cream and fresh strawberries.
“We have a real passion for technique, process and ingredients, and we’ve tried to maintain that over the years,” Nathoo enthuses. “It’s really important to us how things are made—we don’t use stabilizers or fillers, everything is quite clean and natural.”
Good ingredients are a must, as well as good techniques to ensure the cafe’s baked goods are up to standard. Early childhood memories of rolling croissants and scooping muffins in her parent’s bakery have made Nathoo keenly aware of the importance of the process.
“We put a lot of time and energy into our breads,” she says. “We mill our own flour and have them go through long fermentation periods.”
Laughing, Nathoo adds: “Bread that stays on the counter for more than seven days is simply not bread.”
She reveals that the company is set to open a brand new flour milling facility in the Lower Mainland soon, allowing people to see where its ingredients come from.
“We’re looking to find ways to better communicate what our products are really made of and what goes into them,” says Nathoo. “I think that’s an area of growth.”
For now though, she couldn’t be more proud of her team, and is looking to improve in the future, including offering more seasonality in their menu items.
It’s more than just a small victory.
Small Victory Bakery is located at 3070 Granville Street.
Check out the rest of our Golden Plates 2023 coverage here.