“After the year we have had, for businesses that are looking towards the future, do everything you can to use the community around you! They are our best resource to hang on and get through this next little bit. I think it’s pretty clear right now, shop with small local businesses to keep them in our communities. I would encourage people to continue to think that way because while this pandemic will end at some point, the repercussions that will have on businesses will last for years. I want the business landscape post-pandemic to have lots of small businesses. They employ so many people in the city and they create vibrant communities.”
Recently voted as the best pizza on the North Shore by Northshore News Readers Choice Awards in 2021, Bowen Island Pizza features thin crust pizzas with West Coast flair and it is conveniently located in Lonsdale Quay Market in North Vancouver. The newly renovated and expanded shop has an open style kitchen with lots of greenery and a huge breezy counter built around the shop. Stepping outside the market, gorgeous views and wide open spaces of the waterfront are right in front of you. It is a perfect location to enjoy a slice of freshly made pizza.
VOICE (V): “How did you start Bowen Island Pizza and where does the name come from?”
Melanie(M): “I grew up on Bowen Island hence the name. Pizza was a part of my growing up through elementary and high school years. My mom made pizza every Friday night for my friends, for my brother’s friends, for the neighbors, or whoever was around. She started it to make it as a tradition and also partly to keep me and my friends close to home. She still makes pizza for dinner whenever some friends are visiting from out of town. Throughout university, I continued to make pizza for my friends, and slowly that developed into private catering and pizza making workshops.
Throughout and after university, I worked in the mental health field, but found I desired more and looked to entrepreneurship. I reached out to Lonsdale Quay for a possible space for a pizza shop and over the course of six months in 2015, and everything kind of lined up! I opened Bowen Island Pizza Co. in the Spring of 2015. We just celebrated our 6th year anniversary on April 15th this year. The shop definitely has turned out to be a much bigger project than I originally thought. I love the community and have built some great relationships with other business owners around the community, and I sit on the business improvement committee (Shipyards BIA).”
V: “What’s special about Bowen Pizza?”
M: “We use mostly my mom’s “base” recipes but we have definitely expanded over the years. We take recommendations from our customers and a lot have been developed both by myself and by my staff. Our menu features Vegetarian options, Plant-based (vegan) options and Classic Meat, Premium Meat options, and gluten-free. The goal is for anyone and everyone to be able to come for lunch here and find something they like and can enjoy.”
V: “And ingredients?”
M: “We make all of our ingredients from scratch and we do our best to support local throughout the year. For our thin crusts, we use Anita’s Mill Organic unbleached flour. In the summer time, a lot of fresh produce like tomatoes, come from my mom’s garden in Bowen. I also focus on ordering from the Cascading Corridor (the area encompassing BC, Washington and Oregon) when possible. If not local, at least geographically, they come from as close as possible. I love using fresh basil on pizza, so we always keep the fresh basil pots on the shop counter all year round. We grow them to double their size under the grow light I installed on our countertop.”
V: “ How did you navigate your business this past pandemic year?”
M: “It has been a really challenging year as a business owner. When we didn’t know what was going to happen, my primary concern was to make sure that my staff were happy and comfortable at work. I came in to work everyday and checked in with the team if we are doing ok today and if we are going to be open tomorrow. We literally went day by day, and we were one of the only businesses in the market that ended up staying open. Because we are located at the destination point where cruise ships come in, so right from the beginning of March, we usually get very busy. I had already planned for that busy season and hired summer staff. We had to keep the business open by shifting a majority of the business to take out and delivery, and in the first couple of months, a lot of new customers found us through Skip the Dishes or just being out and about the neighborhood. That helped us a lot, and I was able to keep all of my staff all summer long. In the fall, we started wholesale with a grocery store called The Ruddy Potato on Bowen Island. They order a lot of our take-and-bake pizza every week and can be bought at their grocery store. It has been excellent because people can take pizza home and bake them anytime of the day in the comfort of their own home. It has been a huge blessing for us to have this kind of consistent business.”
V: “ Were the latest indoor dining restrictions any different?”
M: “With or without restrictions, we are very weather dependent business. I feel like as long as the sun stays and when the summer kicks in, I am looking forward to a good busy summer.”
V: “Anything new coming up this year?”
M: “We are making some new changes to our full time menu. For our Vegetarian, Plant-based, Premium Meat options, we currently have 5 pizzas in each option. In a couple of months, we are going to add a few more pizzas to each option! I am also a new mom to my 3 months old baby girl, and she’s keeping me very busy, so aside from the increase in menu options, we are going to have a hopefully pretty chill year.”
Bowen Island Pizza is available through Skip the Dishes. You can also stop by and grab one at the counter and enjoy it under the sun on the waterfront. Lower Lonsdale is filled with many outdoor areas you can enjoy takeout from the local restaurants: Waterfront Park, Cates Deck, Foot of Lonsdale, Shipyards Square, and up the hill – Victoria Park.
The Signature: Pear&Brie Pizza with olive oil, fresh sliced pears, roasted garlic, roasted onions, mozzarella, and brie cheese! If you can’t decide on a pie, you can also ask for half & half.
VOICE Community: Tality Kombucha