It’s tucked in a nondescript doorway, on a busy street in downtown Victoria. In all honesty, the only reason I noticed it was because I got off at the wrong bus stop, and saw their sidewalk signage. It was love at first sight. I wanted to go to there. I wanted to be a friend of a bear, and be at Friends of Bears all the time.
From the adorable flag outside, to the indoor banners, Friends of Bears screams “I am a business in the Pacific Northwest”, and their tongue in cheek decor plasters a smile all over my face. Even their self-serve water jug is a beehive that Winnie the Pooh would be pleased to find.
Friends of Bears has been open in Victoria, BC since the fall of 2013, and when I was there during their lunch rush on a Tuesday afternoon, it looks to be well attended. You can get your lunch to go, hang out and chat with friends, or with Colin and Claudia the owners of the lunch shop.
Being a passionate person, I of course had to ask if Friends of Bears worked with a non-profit to protect bear livelihoods. As of now, Friends of Bears independently wants to share their love of bears with the world. Nature magazines sprinkle the walls between popular materials, and the gorgeous blue walls don’t make the well-lit space feel at all cavernous.
But what of the food? Their menu is changing as they cater to the wants of their customers. My friend Lauren who came with me had their vegetarian yam and walnut wrap while I had a salami and blue cheese sandwich that is (so unfortunately) coming off the menu. The bread was lightly toasted, with fresh baby spinach, tomatoes, and a wee bit of onion. It also came on a metal picnic tray which tickled me absolutely pink. And as you can see, I gobbled it up faster than Yogi after hibernation.
Lauren and I also shared some potato wedges with homemade ketchup. And, as someone who makes her own ketchup (recipe is in the works, I promise) this version absolutely delivered. Lauren’s wrap is (no joke) the small size. She said it left her super full, and she wasn’t sure if she could have finished a large one. The best parts she said were the little fried bits. “I don’t know what they are. But they really make this wrap amazing, and I want more of them.” Her wrap was delicious. I only got a bite, but it was crammed full of lettuce, walnuts, and feta. They have a salad version of this wrap, and it might be the thing I end up getting the next time I’m there.
I had to steal a picture from Lauren’s instagram. I was way too busy paying attention to my sandwich to insist that I photograph hers.
There’s this little nook here that I want to spend the rest of my life lounging in, reading more about bears, and looking at bears on things. And oh please, may I?