July, 2014

  1. PiCNiC Coffee

    July 8, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

    In many ways, the team behind Victoria’s PiCNiC Coffee mirrors the tech industry: they’re serial entrepreneurs with a vision who never give up, and they keep a tight focus on delivering what their customers want.

    As many people in Victoria’s tech sector can tell you, PiCNiC is a cool little cafe located at the foot of Fort Street. They specialize in creating simple lunches of soup, salad, and sandwiches.

    PiCNiC doesn’t have a set menu, but their customers know that whatever is offered on any particular day is going to taste great.

    So on any given day customers can expect to be served surprises like slow-cooked buffalo chicken with blue cheese spread, served with PiCNiC’s signature maple apple slaw, or perhaps a chorizo shitake melt, pressed on fresh sourdough with smoked eggplant, Parmesan and cheddar cheeses.

    You can even design your own sandwich.

    PiCNiC’s soups and salads are similarly delicious, and as a result PiCNiC has developed quite a following on Urban Spoon.

    They roast their own meats in-house, and pretty much everything at PiCNiC is sourced locally. For coffee, PiCNiC uses beans roasted by Sam Jones and his crew at Victoria’s own 2% Jazz, and the tea is from JagaSilk – another Victoria success story.


    PiCNiC’s emphasis on working with and promoting other home-grown businesses is all part of Tectoria’s collaborative DIY DNA, working together to make Victoria a richer, more culturally vibrant place.

    PiCNiC is the successor to the late, great Fort Street Cafe, which many people in Victoria will remember as a truly underground (they were located underneath a bookstore) hub for theater and entertainment in Victoria before losing their lease a few years ago.

    The same team that ran Fort Street Cafe decided to open a cafe on lower Fort across from the old headquarters of Custom House. There wasn’t much in the neighbourhood at the time in terms of restaurants (this was before Little Jumbo), although the area is home to quite a few technology companies – Latitude Geographics is just around the corner on Wharf.

    If you want to run into someone in the tech industry while grabbing a coffee, PiCNiC’s location lower Fort is a great place to hang out.

    In fact, PiCNiC’s new shop at Fort and Vancouver is another tech hub; PiCNiC Too is located right below Referral SaaSquatch and several other tech startups, while a block away lies 1124 Vancouver Street. The old bottle depot there has been converted into perhaps the funkiest tech space so far in downtown Victoria, and is home to startups Pretio and Tutela.

    Once again, on yet another stretch of Fort Street, PiCNiC is providing tech entrepreneurs and their employees with a place to meet over good coffee and great food.

  2. Specific Mechanical: Building Breweries Around the World

    July 2, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

    Everyone in Victoria knows (or ought to!) that Spinnakers was the first brewpub to open in Canada (up until just a couple of months before it opened on May 15, 1984, it was not legal to brew beer and serve it in the same building).

    But what not many people know is how one Saanichton-based company supplies brewing equipment to craft breweries not just in Victoria, but all over the world.

    “We have installed equipment for Hoyne, Driftwood, Canoe Club, Spinnaker’s, Moon Under Water, Lighthouse and Vancouver Island Brewery,” says Blaine Clouston, who leads sales at Specific.

    Specific has also supplied a lot of Phillips’ brewing equipment, and is currently installing new kegs at their brewery on Government Street.

    Located off Keating X Road, Specific Mechanical has fabricated over 500 stainless steel brewing systems worldwide and is largely recognized as one one of the top three craft brewing equipment manufacturers in North America.

    “The majority of our brewing systems are located throughout the USA, however the Canadian market is growing quickly,” says Clouston. “Just in the past year, we fabricated four new brewing systems for customers on the lower mainland and Vancouver including 33 Acres Brewing, 4 Winds Brewing, Steel Toad Brewery and the Powell Street Craft Brewery.”

    Beyond North America, Specific has has numerous brewing systems spread throughout the world including in England, Japan, Australia and China.

    Specific Mechanical offers “styles” of brew houses, including a custom brew house designed to meet exact needs and specifications that is the most common the company manufactures. For smaller operations, Specific offers a pre-engineered skid mounted brewhouse, and an “all-in-one brewhouse” for true “microbreweries.”

    Bonus Victoria beer brewing fact

    You may have noticed that Driftwood brewery is recently released its first pilsner, called Pilsner Doehnel. Driftwood named the beer after local artisan maltster Mike Doehnel who grew and malted the barley used in the beer.

    Driftwood describes the beer as a “dry, snappy North German-style Pils, lagered for six weeks and hopped generously.

    Sounds like our new summer beer!