Bravo! Top Award for Chilliwack Eatery

by Linda Wegner ~ Business Fraser Valley, 2007

There’s not much better phrase to use in congratulating a restaurant that has just won it’s third International Playhouse Wine Festival award, especially when that restaurant has only been in existence for three years.

According to Damian du Plessis, co-owner of the Bravo Restaurant, it’s because they’ve introduced choices not formerly available outside the Greater Vancouver area.

“They recognized what we are doing in the context of the industry – offering quality and variety that hadn’t been offered. Now we get all sorts of calls from wine representatives who weren’t paying any attention to this area before,” du Plessis says.

Prior to launching Bravo Restaurant, Damian du Plessis and his partner, Louie De Jaeger, spent several years planning how they could plant a “big city” restaurant in the traditionally conservative area of B.C.’s Fraser Valley.

“After we moved out here about eight years ago, I was still commuting to Vancouver every day. That gets old pretty quick and the drive gets worse every year so we were looking around for an opportunity to do something in the Valley. When we opened three years ago, the timing was perfect,” he says.

Contributing to the perfect timing were factors such as the changing demographics of the Fraser Valley, the need for a niche-market restaurant to serve a growing population sector that is “going eastward rather than westward” for entertainment, and the men’s combined experience in the restaurant business.

Obviously the combination, plus a solid background in choosing quality wines, has earned them both a prestigious and a unique place in Chilliwack’s list of places to eat.

“It’s an adult place and it was tricky to produce a nice ambience while maintaining a friendly and interactive atmosphere – something like going to a friend’s house but to the home of a friend who has a really nice house,” du Plessis says.

According to du Plessis, having the “really nice house” located outside the City of Vancouver does have its own set of challenges.

“Certain products are harder to get, compared to being near sources such as Granville Island market. That has forced us to do a lot of sourcing and legwork ourselves in order to get what we want. Oysters and fresh seafood would be an example, they’re not quite as accessible,” he says.

In addition to the extra work involved in locating the premium products they are looking for, du Plessis cited the difficulty sometimes faced in trying to find the staff they require.

“Staffing in general is tough in the industry and when you’re in an area that doesn’t have quite the history of fine dining, the labour pool isn’t quite as available,” he adds.

Challenges aside, it’s the appreciation they receive from clientele that they most appreciate.

“We already have an amazingly loyal group of clientele. That really helps when you’re tired and wonder why you’re doing this. It’s the way people really do appreciate our being here and what we’re doing.”

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