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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