The shops I wish we had in New West

If New West's fairy godmother offered to fast-track a few new shops, here's what I'd wish for ... (Photo: suttonhoo on Flickr)
If New West’s fairy godmother offered to fast-track a few new shops, here’s what I’d wish for … (Photo: suttonhoo on Flickr)

I have many favourite boutiques and restaurants in New West, and it seems to me there are more opening all the time. But if I had a fairy godmother who would fast-track a few new businesses for me, here is what I would wish for:

A truly great coffee shop
New West does not lack for coffee shops, but it does lack for great coffee. A JJ Bean would be awesome, or better yet, something like Raw Canvas in Yaletown, which combines great coffee with a great creative space (and turns into a wine bar / lounge at night!). I want it down on Columbia Street, which just seems like the right place for a cool cafe.

An indoor play space for kids (that is also comfortable for parents)
While restaurants and cafes with adjacent play areas are popular in other parts of the city (Kinder Cafe in Coquitlam, Rocky Mountain Flatbread on Main, Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial), there isn’t anything in New West or nearby. There are also large indoor active play areas, Koko’s Activity Centre in Port Moody, Crash Crawly’s in Coquitlam and Jungle Jac’s in Pitt Meadows, but all of these are awful for parents – and far away to boot. I would love to see a fun place where kids can play on a rainy day and parents can sit in a comfortable chair and chat with each other over good quality coffee and snacks. Bonus points if the food is healthier / more interesting than just hot dogs and pizza. I had thought that the space where Dynamic Health and Fitness is now in Royal City Centre would have made a great large indoor play space, but River Market would be another good bet for a mid-sized space. A restaurant with a small play area could be done anytime by any of our existing restaurants. Yes, it’s fewer tables, but you wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve overheard local parents (mostly moms) pining for such a space in New West.

A hip greasy spoon diner
Back when Will and I lived downtown (years ago!), we’d often head out to The Templeton for a hearty, hip breakfast on Granville St. This weekend when we were considering where to go in New West for breakfast, there was nowhere that quite fit the bill: independents like the Coming Home Cafe and The Hideout Cafe were likely to be closed (it was Remembrance Day) and we were left with various chain restaurants or the greasiest of greasy spoons (cheap, but no atmosphere and mediocre food). We ended up at The Boathouse for brunch, which was good in its own way, but we spent the meal daydreaming about what a great Columbia St. eatery would be like. Re-Up/Fathom sometimes has brunch on the weekends, and it is very good. Maybe the owners could be convinced to open a breakfast joint on Columbia next?

A brew pub
Last night Twitter erupted in disappointment when word got out that Brown’s Social House would be the pub tenant at the Brewery District in Sapperton. New West has a nascent craft beer community, including some intrepid home-brewers, and a local brew pub was on their wish list. I’m sure Brown’s will become a popular destination for a certain type of night out, but for now Hops remains the beer geek’s pub of choice in New West. But if there are any brew pub entrepreneurs out there reading this: Sapperton wants YOU.

A gift shop for men
We’ve got Brick and Mortar Living, Lofty Living, Cadeaux and Sonse Design (among others) where you can find a lovely little something for a woman, but men are much harder to shop for. I’d love to see someone open a Brick and Mortar-style boutique with little things for men to covet and women to gift. Ideally it would tap into the Art of Manliness movement – most men’s gift stores I’ve seen are full of unimaginative, uninspired garbage. In my opinion, this sort of store would do well on Columbia St., to tap into the wedding market and give brides something really nice to buy for their husbands, or grooms to select for their groomsmen.

An independent toy store
Yes, we had one of those (two if you count the oddly named & situated Kids Kloset), but since Pedagogy Toys closed, there’s been nowhere to go locally to buy gifts for kids. I love shopping at toy stores, and I would love to see someone give an independent toy store another go. I think a toy store would do well uptown. There are lots of parents and grandparents out and about during the day, heading to Moody Park and the Library, and I could see a lot of walk-by traffic from folks in the area to do banking, grocery shopping or other errands. A toy store in the vein of the Village Toy Shop in Port Moody would be perfect.

A neighbourhood coffee shop on 12th St
Poor, poor 12th St. It has struggled for so long and is in quite the slump right now. The hill really limits how far people will walk the street, especially without a chain of awesomeness to draw you up, one store at a time. Amber’s Choice is a nice cafe at the top of the hill, but if you’re around 6th Ave or below, it’s a long way to hike for a coffee and a muffin. John Ashdown’s old cafe, Village Coffee Lounge, was in a perfect spot for neighbourhood customers, and as a resident of the West End I certainly feel its absence. I’d love to see more tightly clustered retail on 12th St., particularly around the nexus of 12th St and 6th Ave, anchored by a great community cafe.

A large mixed-use development at 22nd St. SkyTrain
Here’s the biggest item on my wish list. I want to see 22nd St. SkyTrain station built up. Last year, three of the five or six houses immediately next to the SkyTrain were up for sale at the same time, and I was holding my breath hoping a developer would buy them – alas, not how that story turned out. Still, I think a smaller-scale Plaza 88 ‘Shops at New West Station’-type development would be great there. The proximity to downtown on the SkyTrain is awesome from that station, just 25 minutes to Waterfront and less than 20 to the edge of downtown. The price per square foot vs. travel time to downtown work would be ideal for many folks. Plus, it would provide some walkable and useful businesses for the existing local residents in the area – and potentially lift the fortunes of some of the 20th St businesses as well (which suffer from the same issues as 12th St).

There’s more of course. I’d love to see more wearable street fashion, not just bridal, and more of a visible arts presence. I miss having an art supply store on the street (years ago Full Spectrum Art Supply bowed to the bridal market and turned into Paper Poet, a wedding invitation & papercraft store), and I often wish for an independent bookstore of the type I enjoy in La Conner, WA (The Next Chapter, check it out if you are ever in the area. Fireplace, comfy chairs, decent coffee and an expertly curated selection of titles).

But that’s me. What would you like to see?

Classic charcuterie with a touch of the exotic at Quantum Deli & Bistro

Setting a new standard for café quality in New Westminster, Quantum Deli and Bistro brings a little slice of Yaletown to our Downtown area (cat-sized dogs not included).

Quantum Deli & Bistro, at 41 Sixth St. in New Westminster
Quantum Deli & Bistro, at 41 Sixth St. in New Westminster

Quantum offers a killer cup of coffee, gorgeous decor, free wifi and a touch of the exotic with its homey paninis and soups. Look for unusual fare like za’atar alongside the egg salad sandwiches, and ma’amoul (date-stuffed sugarless cookies … oh so yummy) next to the shortbread.

Every table is set with a small, modern arrangement from Queen’s Park Florist. The menus are displayed on digital screens. Quantum is probably one of the only New Westminster eateries to be written up in an interior design magazine (Or so the owner mentioned last time we were in. I didn’t catch the name of the publication, unfortunately).

I maintain that ordering decaf is the best way to tell if a restaurant’s coffee is up to snuff. Decaffeinated coffee is almost always terrible, and only quality beans make it worth drinking. Quantum serves 49th Parallel coffee, which my coffee snob friends tell me is the good stuff (not like my taste buds couldn’t tell).

Quantum also sells sliced deli meats, cheese, olives, roasted red peppers and dolmades at or below grocery store prices.  They carry sandwich cheese favourites like Havarti and Edam, but there were also some I’d never heard of before. After sampling a few cheeses, we walked away with some mellow Kashkaval and salty Nabelsi. It’s worth noting that Quantum also provides meat & cheese party platters, also at grocery store prices (while offering far better quality food).

All in all, I’m very impressed, and I plan to be back.

Quantum Deli & Bistro is at 41 Sixth St. Next time you’re in the area, instead of waiting in line at the Starbucks on Columbia, duck around the corner and give Quantum a try instead.

A legend in the making? T2F reviews Waves Coffee House, Columbia & Begbie


Waves Coffee House – 715 Columbia Street, New Westminster

Open Monday-Sunday (and holidays), 6am-12am

View Wireless Internet Cafes in New Westminster in a larger map

In a decision which must go down in history under the column “why didn’t we think of this before?” New Westminster’s first Waves Coffee House location opened June 1st in the first floor of the Westminster Trust Building, in the former Provincial Government Office space at the corner of Columbia and Begbie.

In a building full of small businesses, within spitting distance of newly remodeled Hyack Square, and at the foot of what could be called “Bridal Row,” it seems strange that this prime location in a heritage building has only now attracted a chain coffee shop. What remains to be seen is what this new coffee spot brings to the neighbourhood.

A made-in-Vancouver chain, Waves Coffee House locations provide coffee, deli-style food, desserts, tea, and an array of the popular drinks in coffee house culture: chai lattes, red tea lattes, matcha, blended iced coffee drinks called Frappes, and Waves’ specialty, fruit Frappes in five flavours. Thirteen locations have opened across the Lower Mainland since the flagship store at Richards and East Georgia opened in 2005.

My previous experiences with Waves have placed it out of my top 5 for coffee chains – the locations I’m familiar with have often been crowded and in poor condition, with a generally unmemorable atmosphere. Their coffee is occasionally burnt and certainly wouldn’t satisfy a true coffee connoisseur, but in general better taste and value than Starbucks. Pluses for the chain include frequent promotions (including free ‘Canadiano’ beverages on Canada Day), discounts and a much larger variety of drinks for the non-caffeine drinker than most other locations. I am told by a friend in the know that Waves’ matcha tea lattes are among the best available from Western coffee shops.

With this in mind, I set out to see this new location for myself – and because Waves’ food and drink is familiar enough, my main goal was to find out how this location fits with downtown New West, and to find out where it sits on our map of Wireless Cafes. A second goal was to learn how Waves Coffee Houses line up with competition in New Westminster.

One of the first things you notice is that this location has some serious curb appeal. Along with a well-chosen location in one of downtown’s most iconic buildings – ‘the city’s first ‘skyscraper,’ built in Beaux-Arts style in 1912 for Westminster Trust and Safe Co. – the shop blends well with the building’s architecture, and actually uses the large bank windows and high ceilings to great effect. The first thing I noticed on Friday’s very hot afternoon was a row of customers enjoying frosty beverages at a high counter in front of a huge open storefront window facing Begbie St. It screamed out to me CHILL OUT HERE, and of course I obeyed the impulse.

The next thing I noticed upon entering from Columbia Street is the absolutely stunning high ceilings – complete with white mouldings and modern chandeliers that lent a bit of a heritage flair to Waves’ standard brown/taupe/blue decor. The space itself is a long, narrow and airy room with ceilings that appear to be a full 20ft high. There is a combination of seating styles, including the high bench seats along the front store windows, a very few small tables and chairs, and in the back, a larger living-room-style area with pleather club chairs gathered around a gas fireplace.

What sets Waves apart from the rest is that it is one of the few coffee chains which provides completely free and unlimited wireless internet access, and this New West location is no exception. The day I was there, the internet connection was fast, easy to connect to (no proxy or sign-in page, and an easily-recognizable SSID, Waves), and the power outlets were plentiful! I spotted at least four obvious to the naked eye, installed in strategic locations in each of the different seating types.

In other locations, free wireless internet has been the cause of some problems, such as being overrun by students who stick around working on their laptops all day, buying little and monopolizing the best seating from paying customers. This location may also suffer a similar fate, but is bigger in seating and square footage than most I’ve seen and appears to be aimed more toward the local business clientele. So – easy, free, and fast internet and plenty of power outlets, that’s two checks off my list of non-negotiables for a proper wireless coffee shop.

In addition to its above-average decor and architecture, it appears that this location has even more to offer the local population than standard: along with the Waves head office in the back, there is also a 12-14 person conference room off of the back “living room” area which can be booked by local customers and businesses. Waves’ also offers catering for local meetings, which may be a welcome addition to the street where many of New West’s businesses and offices are located.

Another refreshing change for me was the lower counters. I’ve seen this trend in other coffee chains as well, moving toward a more open and accessible counter and bar where customers can watch their beverages being made, and customers with disabilities (or short) can actually reach the till and their own drink at the bar. A small detail, but much appreciated. This location also had far more staff than I would have expected, but they were all well-trained, cheerful, and accommodating.

The food is what you’ll find at any Waves location, but it is exceptional when compared to other chain coffee shops. Waves Coffee Houses seem to focus more on providing fresh snacks and light lunches to go along with their large drink menu, and though I’m not sure how much of it is prepared on-site, they do have a large kitchen, and none of the sandwiches, paninis, or wraps were served in packaging. Waves’ paninis are popular, and like their other wraps and sandwiches, are served warm from the grill on a real china plate. Their long glass deli cabinet also holds several rows of some very yummy looking desserts, and what with this location’s long trading hours (6am-12am each day), it makes it very competitive with smaller restaurants on Columbia for the evening crowd – perfect for a snack and a chat after a walk around the Quay, or to stop for a drink with the pooch mid-walk. Certainly the business folks in that part of town will enjoy finally having some good, quick and apparently fresh lunch options for a change.

My concerns with this location were few: the ubiquitous blended-ice Frappe drinks caused quite a loud blender noise, and the high ceilings tended to echo the sound throughout. On a hot day a conversation might be obliterated by the demand for Frappes. I also have a concern that this visually stunning location could soon go the way of the Mt. Pleasant and Commercial Drive locations, suffering from serious wear and tear. Some locations struggle with visits from the local street population who can sometimes leave the bathrooms vandalized or unusable. These bathrooms are kept locked with a punch code available from the counter, likely for just this reason. Given Columbia Street’s own struggles with itinerant folks, and the long hours that this location is open, it remains to be seen whether a location this fancy can be maintained over time.

This is the sort of place you’d take your friends after you bought an expensive condo in the old post office building, to convince them of what a hip and up-and-coming place New West really is. “See? Even our coffee shops are a little bit different,” you might say. It also struck me that this would be a perfect apres-cinema spot, given its late-night hours and nice conversational seating – now all we have to do is get a cinema back into downtown. Even more likely, I see Waves supplanting Starbucks on 6th and Columbia as the spot to collapse with your future mother-in-law and your maid-of-honor after a long walk up and down Columbia Street, as you post-mortem your bridal gown options.

In all it was a pleasant experience, and the sound of the train whistle from the Begbie crossing nearby made me smile. The diversity of customers was really something, with seemingly every age demographic represented. Interestingly, though, the only real demographic that I didn’t see were business people.

Breakfast and Blunch in New West

This is a guest post by Ruth Seeley of No Spin PR.

I’m more likely to go out for breakfast than for any other meal these days. Working from home, it means I can give my day a little ‘shape’ by getting up early, reading, writing, tweeting, pitching, greeting, etc. for three or four hours, then take a shower break and head out to do errands, get some fresh air, and have breakfast.

On bad days this sometimes doesn’t happen till 2 or 3PM, however, so I’ve had to invent a term to cover this late fast-breaking meal. I’m going with ‘blunch’ – deal with it.

Coming Home Café 753 6th St. at 8th (604-288-9850)

Cash only, but kick-ass food, small-portioned, bio-eco-friendly breakfasts. Great organic coffee, multigrain fruit breads, fresh eggs, funky furnishings – definitely worth a visit.

And that’s what I wrote before revisiting it. This morning I had a breakfast sandwich of two scrambled eggs, turkey, brie, and roasted veggies (eggplant, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms) with fruit salad (cantaloupe, red grapes, honeydew melon, dragon fruit, pineapple) and coffee – good KickAss coffee – for $8. I was so impressed I had to have a breakfast square as well, so I could continue to savour the coffee. As they say, ‘Like visiting Grandma if Grandma make KICK ASS Coffee!’ – maybe someone could tighten that slogan up a bit?

I keep trying to buy the cute little leopard print tub chairs from the café owners, but they seem determined to hang onto them. We’ve agreed I’ve got visitation rights though. Open seven days a week.

Heritage Grill on Urbanspoon The Heritage Grill @ 447 Columbia St. (604-759-0819)

Breakfast till noon. Decent coffee (second only to Coming Home Café, actually, in the coffee rankings). Nice breakfast for about $8 – sausages, crispy home fries, properly poached eggs, toast. Blunch at The Heritage Grill offers infinite possibilities: the crab cakes with avocado, apple and cilantro salsa, the roast turkey with cranberry sauce and Brie on ciabbatta, fresh mescalin mix salads with a saucy dill vinaigrette – mmmmmmmm.

Mom's Cafe on Urbanspoon Mom’s Café 821 12th Ave. at Edinburgh (604-524-2088)

Nice folks, including Mom, who nods and smiles and soaks up the sunshine. Mom’s is never crowded, the service is great, there are two tables right in the window and it’s on a quiet part of 12th so you can just sit there and slowly wake up. Breakfast specials (like the Truckers Breakfast, 2 eggs, bacon, toast, home fries) start at $3.25 (till 11AM, coffee or tea included). Best deal in town. Closed Mondays. Phone number’s changed since brochures were printed.

The Two Amelias

Amelia on Urbanspoon Amelia Restaurant @ 640 12th St. (604-522-3288)

Amelia’s has gone considerably upscale since my last visit a year ago, despite the endearingly outdated sign that promises free delivery. Amelia’s doesn’t deliver. It does, however, serve cheap and cheerful breakfasts, including a weekday perogie breakfast for around $6, a bagel breakfast, and real desserts like Mud Pie (should you be interested in taking the high-caffeine, high simple carbs, high fat breakfast route). Last time I was there I was tempted by the Monte Cristo sandwich – not too many places around serve ‘em. Its devotees won’t hear of eating at the other Amelia’s. They sort of sniff when you ask, ‘on 6th?’ Bad coffee.

Amelia Café @ 538 6th St. (604-520-3836)

Sometimes you can’t get into Amelia’s on 6th, which is what first sent me to Jim’s. Great breakfast specials here though if you can wait to eat till 10 or 11AM – I like the French toast, poached eggs and sausage special – with watery coffee, about $6. I try to avoid the coffee here. And there is a Starbucks right across the street.

Jim's Cafe on Urbanspoon Jim’s Café @ 518 6th St. (604-522-1288)

Cheap and cheerful with booths. Standard breakfast/greasy spoon fare. Stick with the traditional breakfasts and you can get in and out of Jim’s in 20 minutes for $6 or $7. Same bad coffee as Amelia Café.

Youngs Cafe on UrbanspoonYoung’s 612 12th St. (604-525-1238)

Classic greasy spoon, mixed Chinese/Canadian menu. Odd assortment of photos of the famous. I sat by Janis Lyn Joplin, B. Jan. 19, 1943. D. Oct. 4, 1970.

See Jim’s, the two Amelia’s, Mom’s.

International House of Pancakes (New Westminster) on UrbanspoonIHOP 514 8th Ave. @ 6th St. (604-521-3212)

I’ve headed to IHOP in mid-afternoon for ‘blunch’ a couple of times when I’ve forgotten to eat, for one reason or another. They make the best Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich I have ever had – with choice of onion rings, French fries, hashed browns and more. Not sure why I’ve headed back to IHOP twice to have one for breakfast, but I have. Whether it’s their specialty pancakes, French Toast, or just a standard bacon/sausage/ham/toast/eggs breakfast, IHOP delivers US-portion sized breakfasts and decent coffee served in carafes. The question is whether you want to pay $15 for breakfast or not, and sit along with Middle Canada (sorry, but if you’re looking for ‘edgy,’ head for The Heritage Grill and pray). Watch out for lineups on Sunday mornings. I prefer to go in mid- to late afternoon so I can have a booth to myself.

Moonrakers Neighbourhood Pub on UrbanspoonMoonraker’s

Again, when it’s more like blunch than breakfast, I sometimes head to Moonraker’s for their Reuben. It’s a fat, juicy smoked meat/pastrami sandwich on a nicely textured rye bread, with just the right amount of gooey Swiss cheese. It may well be the perfect antidote for both #snowmageddon and #fogmageddon. Certainly the little backroom library is charming. You never know what charming little tome you may encounter there. I hadn’t noticed the lingering smell of smoke, but it is a sports bar, so best for when you’re in a world of your own and the rowdiness just seems like background noise.

The Pantry 425 6th St. at 4th (604-421-7115)

Really good waffles – two and a half inches high – with something sinful on top, like ice cream or whipped cream or both – solid, non-intrusive service – decent coffee – a little pricey for what it is, but don’t cross it off your list entirely.

Waffle House on UrbanspoonWaffle House 636 6th St. (604-524-8118)

My visit to the Waffle House was completely unmemorable in terms of food and coffee (I would have either remembered or gone back if either had been good-to-great). What I do recall about my visit there was that it was noisy and crowded.

More New West restaurant listings

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Towards a Wireless City *UPDATED WITH MAP*

SEE OUR CHALLENGE BELOW – TELL US YOUR FAVOURITE WIRELESS CAFE HOTSPOT!

I am one of those people who works better when I have a din of white noise behind me, when I’m in a place with a good feel, surrounded by people but not in demand. For me, coffee and good work go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have spent the majority of my university years (both undergrad and post-grad) doing my studying and schoolwork in coffee shops.

When I lived at SFU, I was able to give my business to the locally owned SFU institution Renaissance Coffee and the new organic sustainably-minded joint, Nature’s Garden Organic Deli run by SFU alumni Bill and Doris. What I loved about these places is that they had free wireless internet for patrons, good seating for using a computer, and a friendly atmosphere. Though the food at Renaissance wasn’t my favourite, and their “organic-ness” is in dispute, they were open the latest of the on-campus coffee places and their internet was provided through the SFU wireless system. Nature’s Garden had great organic food, cheap coffee and nice people. In a pinch, I’d frequent the Starbucks at Kensington and Hastings which featured a long study table with several outlets, strong fast internet access (at a steep price), and great white noise.

Now that I live off campus and am a working professional, I still enjoy a good wireless cafe for those times that I’m blogging at T2F or Disadventure, or for when I’m finishing up my thesis work. However, when I’m in New West visiting Will and Briana (also T2F creators), there are no good wireless cafes to go to if you want to support local business.

Now some of you would argue this, citing Blenz at 6th and 6th (a Canadian franchise) which provides free wireless to customers but has no outlets available, and the six Starbucks locations all over the city, which provide wireless internet free for two hours with a valid starbucks card code. However – given this city’s many students, the popular coffee culture, and the increasing popularity and dependence on wireless internet devices, if a New West native like me is unable to identify a good, locally owned wireless internet cafe, I think there aren’t enough to meet the demand. Even the amazing former Yaletownish eatery in New West’s Uptown, The Orange Room, had no internet access for patrons.

Two wireless cafe-finding resources, notably Vancouver.wifimug.org (a user-generated index of wireless cafes in Greater Vancouver that has sadly fallen far out of date) and nodeDB.com show no updated listings of New West wireless cafes. If a student, person traveling on business, or any of the growing throng of Blackberry and iPhone users travelled through New West, they’d find no convenient, social place to connect – either to the internet or to other people. For those who are unfamiliar, let me let you in on the culture of wireless internet that seems to have changed our society: I believe that this lack of connection makes a lasting statement about our community to visitors and residents alike that we are stuck, isolated and unconnected. Sure, that might be dramatic, but New West is perpetually on the precipice of transformation from one-trick ‘historic town’ pony to a multi-dimensional, multi-generational dynamic city. So you say New Westminster is a historic little town which isn’t trying to be the next Silicon Valley – I say check out touristy and historic litle LaConner (with less than 1000 municipal citizens) where my parents live, provides wireless internet to downtown visitors and residents free of charge. The signal in the streets is strong enough to check your e-mail, but step into your favourite bookstore/cafe where they provide broadband wireless and power outlets so you can stop for a bite, a book, and a browse on the internet if you need it.

I greatly appreciate the cafes without plugs or wireless internet, so I can sit and chat with my friends and enjoy the time spent in a nice social environment. But I assure you, it’s not those cafes I keep an index of in my head – it’s the cafes with a strong wireless signal, at least one accessible power outlet, and a reasonable coffee environment that I remember. Since wireless internet became widely available (and as cheap as a one-time $90 wireless router and broadband access at $40/month), many have remarked how wireless internet has improved business for coffee shops and bookstores, even giving them an edge over the big-chain franchises like Starbucks and McDonalds, who charge for internet usage.

“For me, it’s about creating a coffeehouse experience that’s relevant to my customers,” says Jody Hall, who opened Verité Coffee in Madrona six month ago with free Wi-Fi in mind. She estimates that an average of 25 to 30 customers use the service daily. “In today’s culture, wireless is part of our daily lives. I want our coffeehouse to be a place people meet and gather, and if that’s something they need for their meeting, then I want to have that.”

(…)

“What it did for us initially was get the word out about us quickly,” says Michael Prins, owner of Herkimer Coffee, which opened with Wi-Fi available a year ago.

“I think it is a big draw,” says Anya Webb, owner of Fremont Coffee. She suspects she’s stealing at least a little bit of business from the Caffe Ladro across the street (where the Wi-Fi is not free). “It brings people in.”

(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Wi-fi’s on the (coffee) house, 01/07/04)

There is one main reason that many cafes provide only a signal and not appropriate seating or power outlets – they need or want to limit the number of people like me, who occupy seating for paying customers while using up the internet. However, I encourage the locally-owned coffee shops in New West to reconsider providing free internet access to patrons as part of their business model – both to present a connected, dynamic face to the customer, and also to give them a leg up on the big-chain opposition, making local business ultimately more successful. It’s completely fair game to restrict the signal to paying customers (as Blenz does) to ensure your signal brings the return it is supposed to. Another approach for small cafes is to post signage reserving some seating for non-computer customers during peak hours to ensure seating is available for the non-career internet users in the cafe.


Here’s my standard for a “good” wireless cafe:

– appropriate seating, including chairs and tables or bar-height chairs and counters

– a strong, uncomplicated wireless signal (password or not)

– 1-2 accessible power outlets.

Wireless Internet Cafes in New West:

Blenz Coffee: 6th and 6th (Uptown): Wireless signal; password protected for customers only; plenty of seating but no power outlets

Starbucks Coffee (Multiple Locations: Westminster Centre on 6th Street; E. Columbia & Sherbrooke; Columbia & 6th Ave*; McBride Blvd & 8th Ave. See also Burnaby Crossing, at 10th Ave & 6th Street) Limited/Pay Usage only. Westminster Centre, Royal Square have no power outlets; E.Columbia & Sherbrooke, 6th & Columbia have one or more outlets available. Columbia and 6th Ave’s internet has not been working for the last month. December 2008.

Sounds Promising (listings unverified):

– The Hide Out Cafe: 716 Carnarvon Street (Downtown). Cafe, deli, organic & internet access.

Other free wireless internet sources in New West:

The New Westminster Public Library (6th Avenue at 7th Street) Wireless Internet access is governed by the library’s Internet Access Policy, and is available throughout the building. A table is reserved for laptop users requiring cable internet access, with 4 ethernet cables and power outlets. Ten study carrels are also equipped with power outlets.

What do you think? Share with us your favourite places to chill out and plug in. What do you think about wi-fi users in public cafes? Help T2F assemble an up-to-date list of wireless cafes in New Westminster.

Here’s a map of wireless internet locations so far:


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