Fresh digs for the Uncommon Café


This column is usually focused to feature stylish residential spaces within our city – a way to check in and see what our fellow Vancouverites are loving, choosing and using for décor.

However, when a family-run, local business feels just like home and opts for a décor revamp, we are definitely keen to see what they're up to with their digs.

The Uncommon Cafe
, located in the heart of Railtown’s business district on the busy Powell Street corridor, is celebrating two years as a community hub for stellar breakfasts, lunches and coffees for it’s neighbourhood this summer. Actually, “famous” would be a more suitable adjective for the Uncommon menu items – they have received notable shout outs from the LA Times and numerous local foodies and media outlets.

For many of the regulars, however, the fresh homemade meals and baked goods are just the beginning. The warm, unpretentious atmosphere and inviting vibe have created a space that people look forward to coming to each day as their “home away from home” to eat. Lisa and Luc Leimanis, the married owners and founders of The Uncommon Cafe, have worked hard together to create a space that not only followed their passions for amazing food at fair prices, but also fits comfortably into the diverse DTES neighbourhood with a relaxed, cosy décor.

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“We've always wanted a space for the people in the community to feel comfortable in. We want it to be warm and inviting, a place where anyone can enjoy,” Lisa explains, about the café's practice of using local artists and many second-hand scores for their décor. When everything is brand new, guest often don't feel comfortable being one of the first few to use or settle into the furnishings; this didn’t fit what the Leimanises saw the neighbourhood needing. They wanted to be the place where they serve the busy rushes of regulars for morning coffees and lunchtime sandwiches, but also find guests curled up in the lounge chairs with a good book all afternoon.

As the café approaches two years of bustling traffic, it seemed time to give the space a refresh to brighten things up and allow room for the growing customer base. The café has a coveted corner location with oversized windows, so a fresh white paint palette was chosen to work well with the ample natural light. Shifting around the furniture layout allowed the café to accommodate the flow that they saw their customers naturally leaning towards and at the same time allowed space for more seating – getting a spot to sit at lunch is a hot commodity around this place!

Lisa and Luc wanted to update the rest of their décor with more notable art installations, but they didn’t want to lose the “local” vibe they had cultivated. They decided to feature two emerging local artists to create the life within the space. Forage & Lace was brought in to custom make a number of large macramé wall hangings to add interest, warmth and texture to the walls; to get the pops of colour within the space, the café asked Spade & Pointer to create planted succulents as their tabletop décor. Working with local creatives and supporting fellow small businesses was the backbone behind the design vision for the café’s update – every piece created by the artists is available for sale at the café.

If you’re looking for a home-away-from-home the next time you’re hungry, you can find this community hot-spot at 477 Powell Street, open 7:30am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

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