Thomas Eleizegui is taking it as a good sign that an iconic Canadian animal showed up to check out his café just days before it is slated to open in a prime location in West Vancouver.
Eleizegui is the general manager and a partner in Isetta Café Bistro, set to open Monday (May 2) at the Cypress Park commercial complex, located on Marine Drive near Cypress Creek. He was surprised last week to see a beaver waddle out of the creek and walk right up to the café as workers were putting finishing touches on the space inside.
“It might be a good omen,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a good Canadiana symbol, for sure.”
Eleizegui filmed the beaver for a few moments but then became concerned by its behaviour and decided to help it out.
“They’re nocturnal animals, so I think he was kind of dazed, maybe,” said Eleizegui. “He was walking along Marine Drive so I put a blanket on him and put him in Cypress Creek. I didn’t want him to get hit by a car.”
Once back in the water, the beaver perked back up and went on its way, said Eleizegui.
With the iconic Canadian symbol out of the way, the construction crew was able to get back to work on the restaurant. The striking slope-roofed commercial space that houses the café has a long history in the community. It was built in 1956, and over the years the building has served as a shopping centre, post office, convenience store, and pharmacy, as well as housing La Toque Blanche restaurant in the late 1980s and early '90s. In its most recent iteration it serves as one of the most unique auto service stations you’ll find, serving customers in a space with serious West Coast Modern design vibes.
In 2020 the building’s owner, Guff Muench, successfully lobbied West Vancouver council to allow him to make upgrades to the complex, including space for a new independent café.
Isetta is that new independent café, and Eleizegui aims to keep the West Coast casual vibe going, making the café feel more like a cabin with picnic tables rather than a fancy restaurant with white linens.
“The way we have it all dressed up, it’s going to be like a national park,” he said. “I wanted to keep it casual, I didn’t want to get too dressy.”
The space is meant to act as a kind of community centre, said Eleizegui, featuring brunch and lunch sit-down meals, as well as food that you can grab and go.
“If you’re on the way to going to the beach or skiing or whatever, we have a lot of pastries and sandwiches to go,” he said.
The name Isetta is a nod to the partnership between Eleizegui and Muench. The Isetta is a quirky type of micro-car that emerged out of a 1950s collaboration between an Italian company that made motorcycles and appliances and German powerhouse BMW.
“I’m from Italy, he’s German,” Eleizegui said with a laugh, about his own collaboration with Muench.
And the beaver is pure Canadian. Add it all up, and Eleizegui is hoping it is a space everyone will feel welcome in.
The Isetta Café Bistro is set to open Monday, May 2 at 4360 Marine Drive, West Vancouver.