Waterfront Vancouver Restaurant Opens its Doors to the Homeless

Photo sourced from Tourism Vancouver

Salmon sliders at Ten Ten Tapas. Photo sourced from Tourism Vancouver

One trendy Vancouver restaurant is pioneering a creative way to feed the city’s homeless and low-income population. And it wants other restaurants to rise to the challenge.

Ten Ten Tapas, a tapas restaurant located on the False Creek seawall near the Burrard Street Bridge, has begun inviting area residents in for a free monthly made-from-scratch meal. A recent meal in the waterfront venue consisted of grilled cheese made on homemade sourdough bread and stuffed with Asiago, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, paired with choice of beef-mushroom or tomato soups or seafood chowder.

The monthly lunches, which have been held twice so far, generally attract around 50 people. Logistics are handled by the non-profit Gathering Place, a community centre near Yaletown that serves the local population. The centre hands out tickets to people it works with, giving them a chance to enjoy a fine dining experience, according to an article by the Vancouver Sun’s Matthew Robinson.

The interior of Ten Ten Tapas. Photo sourced from Tourism Vancouver

The interior of Ten Ten Tapas. Photo sourced from Tourism Vancouver

And the restaurant’s owner, Derek Oelmann, insists other Vancouver restaurants can easily do the same thing. He says costs are kept low by using leftovers, including trimmings of meat, fish and vegetables. Meals are scheduled during non-peak times, when the restaurant would otherwise be relatively empty. And helping out the local community keeps staff morale high and employees motivated.

As a way to “pay it forward,” Oelmann is challenging other area restaurants to adopt similar free monthly meal services, even on a small scale, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The view from Ten Ten Tapas. Photo sourced from Tourism Vancouver

The view from Ten Ten Tapas. Photo sourced from Tourism Vancouver

He points out the recent backlash to the opening of two new shelters in the trendy Yaletown neighbourhood, one on Howe Street at the site of the old Quality Inn and another at 900 Pacific Street (at Hornby Street).  Despite attempts to make the problem “disappear,” the gulf between rich and poor in Vancouver is only widening. Offering free meals is one small way to acknowledge the issue and build a sense of community.

What do you think about the idea of Vancouver restaurants offering free monthly meals to low-income and homeless people? Let us know below. 

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12 Responses to Waterfront Vancouver Restaurant Opens its Doors to the Homeless

  1. Shahee lakhani

    i think this is so awesome

  2. Jeannie

    …”giving them a chance to enjoy a fine dining experience.”…”using leftovers, including trimmings of meat, fish and vegetables”…???!

    • Jeannie

      “Despite attempts to make the problem “disappear,” the gulf between rich and poor in Vancouver is only widening. ”
      gee, I wonder why

    • BR

      What’s wrong with using leftovers? are you so awesome that using leftovers can’t be used for fine dining?

      • lexi

        Totally agree!

    • Nancy

      I had the same reaction for a few seconds Jeannie but honestly that does not mean the food is not fresh. Really looks appetizing on the picture and it must be nice for a homeless person to dine in that lovely restaurant. I became teary reading about it. Such initiative provides hope and inspiration.

  3. Tim

    There are countless ways people can share prosperity, or good fortune. As creative souls we can use and accept ways to help those in need with an outcome of increased prosperity for all .Would it not be beneficial to gain notoriety or positive public opinion for donating wood for buildings to create needed housing for those future stakeholders in our community? Or perhaps provide the basics of nutrition because we have in our warehouses to donate. How could positive public opinion not help a national food chain.

  4. Dianne

    Wonderfully kind and generous idea and excellent example and challenge to others.

    Thank you for your generosity, loving-kindness to others, and for your ‘Pay It Forward’ attitude Derek Oelmann, owner of Ten Ten Tapas.!

    May your business increase tenfold.

  5. Sheila Rodger

    I will patronize this restaurant when I am in Vancouver to support his sensible win-win philanthropy

  6. sylvia shaw

    I am so touched to read this, what a generous gesture, this is what being kind is about! Kudos to Derck and all staff involved and I agree with everything Shalee, BR, Lexi, Dianne have said every little gesture helps! I live in Ont but visit Vancouver often as my son lives there, my small city does these kind of things always and makes me so very proud of the city I live in! Bless you all for thinking of others less fortunate!

  7. Jane Parton

    Sounds like a lovely idea! I do think that more regular ‘basic’ food help would be more beneficial though (in the longterm) very generous of you though- well done!

  8. Kay

    Every small piece of humanity given to the people lost in a hopeless situation is one step in the long journey to helping cure to problems faced daily by some of our most vulnerable people. Don’t we all feel wonderful when we go out to enjoy a meal and be treated as special. Thank you for your efforts and your kindness.