It’s a long way from Moscow to Vancouver, but Julia Lomonosova and Paul Lomonossov settled in over the last year and feel right at home in Canada.
Last June the couple moved to Vancouver with their two young children to start a new life. In the late 1990s Paul had lived in Mississauga and in 2016 he brought Julia to visit Ontario and B.C. as possible locations to live. They chose Vancouver for the climate and the proximity to nature.
Julia headed a Russian National high-speed rail project before leaving the country and Paul worked for a large Telecom company as a chief sales officer. With the move they knew their career paths would change direction. Paul reflects back to conversations he and Julia had where they dreamt of owning a business together.
He says, “We had all of the knowledge on how to structure a large business. We took into consideration the type of business we wanted. We knew we wanted something for kids and families and we wanted to do something that would be socially valuable for the community,” says Paul.
Last December Julia and Paul became the new owners of Kokopelli Café.
He adds, “We did some research to understand the neighbourhood and what the residents might require.” They discovered it is a family oriented community and with this in mind, they wanted to offer a warm and cozy place for locals.
When they discovered Kokepelli was for sale Paul says, ”Our reaction was bingo! That’s what we were looking for.”
Both of them are grateful to Jessica Hotz (who founded Kokopelli with business partner Cindy Delgado) for the help she has offered them. Jessica’s son continues to work at the restaurant on Saturdays.
One of their first tasks was to update the café. Julia and Paul discovered that many Dunbar residents have European roots and decided to reflect this in the makeover. They painted the walls a clean white, and added images of Paris and Amsterdam to create a European coffee shop atmosphere.
It was important to the couple to preserve the family friendly environment which features a play area in the back for children; there are even tables reserved for kids.
Julia comments, “As a mom, I know how exhausting it can be sometimes. You desperately need some “sanity time” to have your coffee and be able to eat your favourite treat with two hands. Kokopelli gives moms an opportunity to rest, talk with a friend or partner, read a magazine or just sit and do nothing. We are giving this precious moment to moms, while their kids are busy in the play area. It’s a win-win situation.”
Their goal is to provide a stylish, comfortable atmosphere while enjoying great coffee, and healthy home style baking.
Julia says, “The food industry is new for me, so it’s a lot of learning, which I really enjoy. It is interesting from many aspects – starting from business related questions to experiments in the kitchen where your only limit is your imagination. So, I don’t have boring days. Every day there are new questions to address, challenges to overcome, and new things to implement.”
The menu was designed with support from a professional chef to give it a European slant. The sandwich and wrap menu is based on exclusive recipes developed for Kokopelli Café and features top grade, healthy ingredients. Some core recipes remain while some new items have also been introduced.
Start the day with a whole grain morning crossiant stuffed with scrambled eggs, ham and cheese or a hearty breakfast wrap with oven baked eggs, chorizo, potatoes, onion and cheese.
Lunches range from soups to salads, paninis, quiches and wraps (the Southwest wrap is their top seller). Kids also have their own menu to choose from.
Treat yourself to a house-baked pastry with your coffee or tea. For those crazy busy days when cooking is the last thing you want to do, try a home made frozen take away meal (chicken pie, quiche, macaroni and cheese). Healthy smoothies can also be found at Kokopelli.
Paul says, “We would like to add some desserts to the menu. Julia makes fantastic cakes.”
What makes Kokopelli stand out? Julia replies, “This business is very personal, almost all of our customers have been supporting Kokopelli for years. It makes us very different from other places where people just come to buy coffee and may not return.”
She adds, “At Kokopelli we know customers’ names, their kids, sometimes grandparents, their vacation plans, school related issues with theirs kids, the list is long. We talk about things that matter to them, whether it is trying to cheer them up if it’s a bad day, to encourage and support them, and to be a part of their happy moments that they share with us. This is how we stand out from the rest.”
At the end of a long day what do Julia and Paul find most rewarding about living their dream? Julia says with a smile, “Dunbar is all about people. It’s a great and very supportive neighbourhood that we are happy to be part of.”
Paul adds, “We have made many friends here. They come in to talk and grab a coffee. They are no longer customers – they have become friends.”
4593 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2G7