Right now, Calabash Bistro is back in business after a long shutdown, let’s go eat!
When I first wrote about the gentlemen of Calabash Bistro, years ago, it wasn’t because these guys were on trend in the food scene, it was because they were the first Black Owned Business I had heard of…this is three years after I had moved to Vancouver, from Calgary.
Calabash Bistro is trendy, it appeals to every trend seeker, but the best part of Calabash Bistro, for me is the fact that 2 guys plus 1 guy came together to open a business that speaks to their hearts. They love their heritage, they love their part in society, they love sharing information and knowledge…and great food and drinks, of course.
Roger Collins is the epitome of a strong Black man, he is a leader, a beautiful soul. Roger is a guy who is soft in his speech, gentle in his approach, and peaceful, loving and kind…but with strong convictions of right and wrong and a deep belief in equality for Black people. His very action of showcasing Black artists and musicians around the globe speaks of his dedication.
I see Roger at every rally, every movement that shines a light on the injustices done upon Black people in Vancouver.
Chef Cullin is of mixed race and he strongly identifies with people of colour. Cullin was formed and shaped by his Guyanese grandmother. He loved her food and storytelling so much that he took a sabbatical to explore Guyana.
Cullin went on his quest to learn about his grandmother’s Guyanese heritage, specifically to follow the foods that shaped her. He returned with the realization that he had actually found himself, his own history and his calling in life…share good food and be a part of building something solid that helps Black people and POC.
Although there are 3 owners I always focus on Roger and Cullin, because these brothers believe in equality for people of colour. They are “those” guys that act on their belief, by hiring people of colour, by making their business a safe place for everyone. Calabash Bistro is the only establishment in Vancouver where you will see BPOC working in every aspect of the business.
I see so many jobs available in every industry in Vancouver, and yet it seems like not one Black or Indigenous person seem to qualify. Don’t’ tell me there are no BIPOC looking for work because if you do, I have to wonder how come so many POC work at Calabash Bistro.
These gentlemen are both fathers of mixed race children and their dream is to have their children live in a safer world. Together, we can all make this happen for all our children, right?
These guys seek out the people who are disenfranchised. Heck, they even launched their restaurant in an area that is home to the homeless, and yet through their sheer love of all and their belief in who they are, and who they want to be, they have managed to survive and thrive.
I have seen them make sandwiches and hand them out to folks in their neighbourhood, even employing the homeless when possible.
They always said, “These people are our neighbours and neighbours help each other.”
Right now, Calabash Bistro is back in business after a long shutdown. The music scene will not thrive just yet, but there are ways we can all pitch in to help, because the faster they are back on their even keel, means the sooner Black people in Vancouver will get a helping hand.
So, everyone who would like to help Black people in Vancouver, here is what you can do…order out, dine in, tell your friends about their Caribbean cuisine. Send them messages, share their Social Medias handles, follow and comment in their feeds, and finally…order more food and drinks.
Over the next few months I will actively seek out Black Owned businesses to showcase. It is on all of us to make the difference we want to see. We are all in this together.
Let us now act on our beliefs that Black Lives Matter, look to Roger, ask his advice on how you can all help to shine a light on Black people and POC artists and musicians.
It is time to make this city a truly diverse and inclusive place.
Calabash Bistro is open for business. Applaud them, and support them so the wave of goodness continues to spread.
“Calabash is a place created to celebrate and share Caribbean culture with Vancouver. Through food, drinks, music and art, we developed an unpretentious landscape that is safe and welcoming for all who visit.”