Newly established South Korean pastry cafe serves up treats to the North Shore
Carlos Ascencio // Contributor
Photograph by Smiely Khurana
Over the summer, a new establishment broke ground at the Phibbs Exchange bus loop (1571 Oxford street) offering up decadent treats for North Shore’s public transit faithful. Stuffies Pastries opened the doors to its stylish and welcoming enterprise on June 19, and though it seems to passing traffic that the business popped-up overnight, for Stuffies’ President Jin Lee, opening day couldn’t have been farther from that.
After a year in just the developmental stages of the business plan, it took an additional six months for the building to come together. The South Korean company bought their equipment from Korea, and tailored the original products for the North American market. For instance, in Korea, they only have a couple of flavors consisting of red bean and vanilla. However, since the transfer to Vancouver, the business has increased its variety, now including cinnamon, strawberry, chocolate and matcha stuffings, with the addition of gluten-free options.
Lee is convinced that the key to success in the restaurant business is the customer service. “It doesn’t matter how good the product is. If you don’t have the service, the product means nothing. If I make you upset, it won’t taste right. It’s something human, something emotional, so I try to train my staff to provide the best customer service,” he said.
Having been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, Lee clearly has what it takes to run a successful business. Before Stuffies, he had built Koryo BBQ, a Korean fast food franchise with 27 locations across Canada. He sold it seven years ago to create a new low-cost place.
Utilizing innovative automating machinery, Lee has managed to reduce almost half of the businesses expenses. A sophisticated system is in charge of making the coffee, baking and packaging the treats. “I can train anybody to run this concept in a week,” he said.
The Stuffies experience starts even before crossing the shop’s doors. The smell of the pastries knows no physical borders, and the company’s flawlessly designed visual elements play a key role in the tasty experience visiting the shop. A neat and comfortable space welcomes every customer while the smooth sounds of jazz can be heard at low volume.
While the shop holds high standards in every aspect, its prices stand incredibly reasonable, with a regular little “stuffie” (creme filled pastry) costing just 50 cents, with discounts available for bulk buys. The “cro-tais” go for $3.25 for the sweet fillings, and $3.45 for the savory breakfast ones. Lunch specials are also offered, consisting of a sandwich, soup and a salad just for $5.
The successful future of Stuffies Pastries is clear, to the point that an expansion is already in sight. The business is currently hiring while planning to open up more locations across Canada in the near future, possibly a second and third location sometime this year.
Stuffies plans to be included in Phibbs Exchange’s renovation plan, and hopes to have a booth at the loop so that customers can enjoy tasty treats and keep warm with coffee without missing their bus to run into the establishment.
In the meantime, the business will carry on experimenting to improve its products, reducing calories and improving nutritional value. They will also be trying vegan options and seasonal fillings, all while continuing to put smiles on the faces of every individual that opens its doors.
Capilano University students are invited to enjoy 20% off any purchase at Stuffies Pastry Café – this offer is valid until Oct. 31 upon presentation of a valid CapU student ID.