Treats from the Modern Pantry. Photo by Yushiin Labo.

This North Vancouver Couple Is Photographing All Their Local Food Heroes During the Pandemic

When Mina and Yushiin Sato went looking, they found story after story of businesspeople in North Vancouver helping each other through the pandemic.

Take the Bluhouse Market & Cafe in Deep Cove, where owner Jen McCarthy was struggling to find a solution after COVID-19 made indoor seating impossible, while the café’s backyard patio garden was badly in need of refinishing and repairs. Then one loyal customer rallied a team of local men who showed up with tools and wood stain to remake the patio into a beautiful space for patrons to sip their coffee and enjoy the ocean air.

“We were totally blown away,” McCarthy says. “As they worked it literally brought tears to my eyes.”

Jen McCarthy of the Bluhouse Cafe. Photo by Yushiin Labo.

Or take the Winston Café on Lonsdale Avenue that was newly open only three weeks before it had to shut down in the face of the pandemic. It has opened its doors again now, buoyed by local business owners and staff who have dropped by to pick up a coffee in support, and who now provide about two-thirds of the café’s revenue.

The Satos are a husband-and-wife team who moved to North Vancouver from Tokyo in 2017. Yushiin is a photographer, and Mina a fashion director, and they share both a design firm, Yushiin Labo, and a passion for local food. When COVID-19 threatened the small businesses they love, they decided to launch a project to bring attention to the networks of people and food in their neighbourhood.

Yushiin and Mina Sato. Photo by Yushiin Labo.

“I think many people focus on what’s local right now and what we can do within our communities, because we are not allowed to travel and move around,” Mina says. “That puts focus on your neighbourhood, and you get to know them better and deeper.”

The couple’s Instagram account features local businesses, from breweries and distilleries to sushi joints and cheesemakers, with stories of how workers are coping and trying to keep food on everyone’s table.

“Even though everyone is struggling, everyone is lending a hand to each other. That’s the kind of story that we want to tell,” Mina says.

Here are some of our favourites of Mina and Yushiin’s photos, but you can check out dozens more on Instagram or their website.

Scratch Kitchen

Photo by Yushiin Labo.

Co-owners Clayton Spalding and Phil Day made their dream of a secluded, destination-style restaurant, where everything is made from scratch, a reality along the Dollarton Highway near Deep Cove.

The Modern Pantry

Photo by Yushiin Labo.

Kendall Gustavson of the Modern Pantry in Maplewood uses a 30-year-old starter for her sourdough bread. And have you tried the granola?

Sansho Sushi

Photo by Yushiin Labo.

Chefs and co-owners Jun and Jennifer Cho, and chef Hideki Yamamoto, bring decades of traditional Japanese sushi knowledge to Sansho Sushi.

North Point Brewing

Photo by Yushiin Labo.

Liam Jeffries is happy to now have guests back in the tasting room of North Point Brewing in the Shipyards Brewery District. Or, you can get same-day delivery on beers like North Point’s Strawberry blonde ale (if you can snap them up while they’re still in stock.)

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Post Date:

July 3, 2020