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People Meet People / Apr 18, 2015

People Meet People

Nelson The Seagull

A sweet coffee house and bakery located in the heart of Gastown, Nelson The Seagull has become a frequent place to grab a bite or catch up over coffee for plenty of Vancouverites. Charming decor, and great food served in a spacious interior are just a couple of reasons why customers keep coming back for more. Read on as we discuss community and the inner workings of a coffee house with Jonathan and Lee Snelgar

When did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
We realized about a year before we actually opened that this is what we wanted to do. We were still living in South Africa and working with a really cool pizzeria in our home town. They really inspired us.

How did you get into your trade?
We are both self taught and learned as we went along. Between books, the internet and repetitive attempts you can learn anything. Our mother is a successful entrepreneur, although in a completely different field, so she had lots of good advice for us.

When do you find you are most productive?
Definitely when we are alone at the shop. Jono in the mornings for the baking shift and Lee in the evenings for shop improvement. This is when we are at our most creative, if there is no one around we don’t have to explain the crazy things we are testing out. All the cool things at Nelson were developed in this weird isolation.

What are you most passionate about?
Jono is all about the bread and Lee the aesthetic. I guess we really enjoy people loving what we produce. When people respond positively it really gives you a boost. Everything in the shop is an original, all the recipes and the decor. So it is really an extension of us.

How do you give back to your community?
Well we have the suspended coffee program which we think is pretty cool. People can buy coffees for other people in advance. So we have a little chalk board keeping a tally of the available coffees. Someone who wouldn’t normally be able to get a specialty coffee can come in and get one. What we really like about it is that the people claiming the free coffee do not have to ask for anything on the house and it doesn’t feel like charity for us. The coffee has already been paid for. This allows a way more relaxed interaction than what you normally get with charitable programs. Our small business doesn’t occur extra costs and the whole community can enjoy specialty coffee. It is rad.

What do you love most about having a bakery/ coffee house?
Probably not the most original answer, but we are doing what we love every day. Even the worse days here have that silver lining. We are young, healthy and get to do something cool everyday. We are super lucky.

To learn more about Nelson The Seagull click here