Estevan eatery welcomes new owner

Oak Bay restaurant retains spirit through ownership change

Daniel Blades

Daniel Blades

A local restaurateur is returning to his roots in Oak Bay.

Jason Chan, 32, grew up in Oak Bay and continues to live in the municipality. So it was a no-brainer for the young man to find work close to home.

Jason and his uncle, Barry Chan, who also resides in Oak Bay, recently purchased The Village Restaurant from owners Jesse and Daniel Blades. The Chans officially took over the business on May 16.

The Village Restaurant, an all-day breakfast joint in Estevan Village, was started by the Blades brothers in fall 2006.

Five-and-a-half years later, the restaurant continues to be a staple for Oak Bay residents, as a busy Thursday morning rush shows.

Inspired by a “Montreal/New York style Jewish deli,” the restaurant has been well received by locals, the brothers said.

“The community in this area (of Estevan Village) and Oak Bay really picked up on that and they love it,” Daniel said. “It’s a touch of a niche market, but it’s really worked for us.”

At the beginning of 2012, both Blades brothers felt like they wanted to take their lives in a new direction and decided it was time to sell their business.

“As much as we love the restaurant and the business, it seemed incompatible with our new life goal(s),” Daniel said.

Daniel, 34, will be moving to Japan with his family, while Jesse, 36, wants to eventually start a farm.

“Ever since I was a young guy, (I) wanted to take on some farming,” Jesse said, adding that he does, however, have some learning to do first.

Until then, Jesse, who has a background in business, will be consulting and bookkeeping for small businesses.

After having their business on the market for only a couple of weeks, they said, they found the “right buyer.”

“We didn’t want to pass our restaurant off to just anybody,” Daniel said.

The Chans have more than 30 years of combined experience in the restaurant industry.

Jason grew up helping with his family’s business, Samuel’s Restaurant in the Queen Victoria Hotel on Douglas Street. He ran it for five years before selling it back to the hotel earlier this year.

Barry also worked at Samuel’s and ran Jonathan’s Restaurant on Quebec Street for more than 15 years.

Jason and Barry’s commitment to maintain the concept of The Village was important to the Blades.

While the restaurant will change esthetically, the essence of The Village will be preserved, Jason said.

Renovations are expected to take one month, but the only disruption customers will notice is a two-day closure while the restaurant’s front windows are replaced with a sliding system, Jason explained.

The Village will keep its current name, hours of operation, and staff. It will also continue working with local businesses and sourcing local products.

What attracted Jason to buy The Village is the local, sustainable business practices that the restaurant maintains.

Coming from the hotel and tourism industry, Jason was also looking for a change – he grew tired of crunching numbers and managing staff and wanted to connect with his customers, he said.

“I’m most looking forward to really getting to know my community,” Jason said. “We’re ready to serve our own community.”