Name: Matt Senecal-Junkeer
Organization/Business: The Birds & The Beets
What do you do and how did you get here?
I own a small café here in Gastown called The Birds & The Beets. We are a café, bakery, eatery and we are now expanding into evening events with the Orchard & The Sea and other restaurant pop-ups. I have worked in restaurants for more than 6 years, including a local coffee roaster called Matchstick. I always wanted to open up my own shop, especially in Gastown. The right opportunity came along, the time was right and now here we are.
What inspired the name and concept?
I get that question a lot but there’s no real great story to it. To be honest, we didn’t have a name when we signed the lease and we had a lot of pretty bad names on the list. I love alliteration and we wanted a name that was fun, playful and didn’t take itself too seriously. The name came to me in the shower one day. The Birds & The Beets is memorable, sounds nice and it rolls off the tongue. It was serendipitous when the right name just appeared at the right time.
If you had 15 minutes only, in Gastown, how would you spend it?
It depends if was day or night. Getting a coffee at Revolver is a great way to start the day. I love L’abattoir’s Happy Hour to kick off the evening. It’s a lot of fun! I would spend my time eating and drinking. I would stroll the streets, maybe get a juice at The Juice Truck and just enjoy being in the neighbourhood.
What do you love about the neighbourhood?
What you’ll find here is an eclectic mix of people – from creatives, to tech people to those living in low-income housing. It’s a microcosm for the broader city. I feel that many of the neighbourhoods in Vancouver are more segregated and isolated, where you only see a certain type of person. That’s why Gastown is such an interesting place to be. You get the opportunity to live, work and interact with people of all walks of life. I think the overall creative energy flowing through Gastown impacts the feel and character of the neighbourhood. I feel so lucky to be here in Gastown that I can’t imagine our café being located anywhere else. There is a certain magic to the heritage that’s here with the mix of the old and the new. Gastown is forever changing, attracting new, innovative and daring ideas and concepts in business while still respecting the bones, structure and history of the past.
What’s your most memorable happy moment or experience in Gastown?
My favourite time in Gastown is the autumn. When it’s early in the morning and the rain is fresh on the cobblestone. There is dappled sunlight dancing through the trees and the smell of the fallen leaves fills the air. It’s quiet and wonderful just walking around the neighbourhood, enjoying being alive and well. For me, that’s Gastown at its best.
What’s your philosophy for a good life?
What I try and do is practice gratitude for everything, especially the small and seemingly mundane things.