Coffee with a taste of Italy - Union

Coffee with a taste of Italy - Union

TIMES COLONIST, VICTORIA, B.C. SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2012 BUSINESS Editor: Darron Kloster > Telephone: 250-380-5235 > Email: [email protected]

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TIMES COLONIST, VICTORIA, B.C.

SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2012

BUSINESS

Editor: Darron Kloster > Telephone: 250-380-5235 > Email: [email protected]

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FP MARKETS, B5, B6

Developer gets digging in Chinatown Long-idle site will see 133 condos DARRON KLOSTER Times Colonist

PHOTOS BY BRUCE STOTESBURY, TIMES COLONIST

Sean Sloat, left, and Massimo Segato celebrate the opening of Macchiato in the Juliet Building on Blanshard Street.

Coffee with a taste of Italy Brothers and partner expand into Victoria’s downtown DARRON KLOSTER Times Colonist Ivano Segato, an auto mechanic who immigrated to Victoria from Italy in 1975 and later acquired Italian Food Imports — one of the city’s most popular delis — sat in his son’s new downtown coffee shop on Friday with a broad smile. Macchiato Caffe, open just a week in the Juliet Building at Johnson and Blanshard streets, was bustling as customers went elbow to elbow for espressos and fresh baking and sandwiches. The gurgle of espresso machines and clatter of cutlery on china mashed with multiple conversations, prompting Segato to lean forward to stress a point. “I am very proud, and very happy we came to this country,” 73-year-old Segato said in his thick Italian accent. “My wife [Caterina] and my boys [Maurizio and Massimo] built a very good business and now the boys build again. “Over the years, everyone works hard, they are honest with people and give good service and food,” said Segato, adding, fittingly, “It’s what we say, you don’t build Rome in one day. It takes time to build something of value.” Macchiato, serving Italian-style coffees, baking and creative sandwiches, was started six years ago at the corner of Broughton and Broad streets by Maurizio and Massimo Segato as an offshoot to their family’s famous deli. They brought in a partner, Sean Sloat, three years ago and were on the hunt for a new location. They said the time was right to expand the brand in the downtown core.

Caterina and Ivano Segato built Italian Food Imports into one of Victoria’s best delis. The Blanshard area is going through a transformation as downtown consumers have gravitated there after the completion of the Atrium building, and local entrepreneurs set up popular hangouts like Pig restaurant, Shine Cafe, Habit Coffee and Zambri’s. The Segato brothers said David Chard, who developed the Juliet Building, was a regular in their Broad Street Macchiato, and when the show suite was shut on the ground floor, he offered them the space. Setting up in a time of economic uncertainty was not a problem, said Massimo. And neither, it seems, is having coffee giant Tim Hortons as a neighbour in the building. “Business is all a calculated risk,” he said. “But if you’re confident in what you do, do it well and stick to your principles of good product and excellent service, it should work out. Timing is never perfect anyway. You just have to do it. “Being close to Tim Hortons isn’t a bad thing. It can actually drive people here. We created something European, a little bit uppercrust, but without charging silly prices,” said Massimo. Sloat was the perfect choice as partner, said Mas-

simo. He has a long foodie pedigree as former owner of Foster’s and manager at the Canoe Club and with the Sequoia Group in Vancouver, where he managed the Tea Room in Stanley Park. Massimo said the brothers were taught well over the 27 years the family has owned Italian Food Imports. “Mom and dad always said if you don’t take care of your customers — not only with good food, but with excellent service — they won’t come back,” he said. “If you do, you’ve customers for life, and I think that’s what we have created here.” And it shows. During the course of a morning interview, Massimo personally greeted a dozen customers. The brothers were born overseas — Massimo in Italy and Maurizio in Switzerland — but grew up in Italian Food Imports at 1114 Blanshard — simply known as the Italian Deli — making deliveries, taking orders and putting together sandwiches. Caterina, now 70, was the glue of the operation until she stepped back a few years ago. “They always worked hard and liked people very much,” she says. “They were never scared to work

hard and help wherever they were needed.” Ivano Segato left the family near Venice, in northern Italy, in 1975 to explore a new life in Victoria. After securing his first job as a mechanic at Peter Pollen’s Ford dealership, Ivano sent for his family. He later worked for West Coast Honda, where the Market on Yates is now located, before eventually opening his own repair shop. Plagued by back problems, Ivano was one day asked by Nino Nenzi, then owner of Italian Food Imports, if he would be interested in buying the business. In 1985, the offer was accepted and Caterina, who had worked in delis in Italy and Switzerland, took the reins with Ivano. Ivano was eventually forced into retirement after heart surgery, but Maurizio stepped up, as did Massimo, to eventually take over the business. “Maurizio, Sean and I really love what we do and you have to love doing this day in, day out,” said Massimo. “If you don’t, you go crazy. It sounds cliché, but we love dealing with people. Making them feel good . . . it’s a great feeling.” >On the Street, B2

Anthem Properties is holding a ceremonial groundbreaking this morning on a $40-million condominium development in Chinatown, despite tepid pre-sales . Robert Marchand, director of marketing for Vancouver-based Anthem, said excavators will move in on Monday to begin digging underground parking and preparing foundations for Union, a 133-unit condo project with 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The high-profile property covering 35,000 square feet between Pandora Avenue and Fisgard Street — fenced off and strewn with weeds and debris for years — had been the site of the ill-fated Bambu condo project that never got off the ground in 2006. Anthem, the Vancouverbased company that owns and operates nearby historic Market Square, said the five-storey project also includes restoration of the 1888 Finlayson building facade and recreating Victoria’s Theatre Alley, which will link Chinatown with the Old Town district. Pre-sales started a year ago, but only 45 potential owners with 15 per cent deposits have been signed to date, well below the standard 60 per cent that banks like to give the green light for financing. But Marchand said Anthem, which owns retail and residential developments across Western Canada, anted up equity to get the project rolling with the belief that the real estate market will gather steam. “Victoria had a huge speculative market with

FISGARD

PANDORA

ROBERT CICCOZZI ARCHITECTURE

The Union condominium project will feature street fronts on Fisgard Street and Pandora Avenue, connecting Chinatown with the Old Town district.

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lots of projects planned in 2007, but a lot of those did not go forward,” said Marchand. “We feel very confident going ahead at this time. You’re seeing a lot of quality builders like Concert, Bosa and ourselves coming in and seeing good opportunity now.” Condominium sales have been the only real glimmer in an otherwise lacklustre real estate market over the past year. According to the Victoria Real Estate Board, April condo sales increased 20 per cent to 171 units compared with March. In April 2011, there were 153 condo sales. However, prices have dropped. The average price paid for a condo was $327,975 in April, down from $332,835 in March. In April 2011, the average price was $353,858. Builders are responding to the condo numbers. For example, Vancouver developer David Chard announced last week he would start breaking ground on a 90-unit condo project in James Bay. Completion of Union is set for next spring. The units range in price from $239,900 for a 500square-foot, one-bedroom up to $550,000 for 1,200square-foot lofts. There will be 10,000 square feet of retail space. Anthem wants to attract a restaurant, as well as retail stores, a bakery and coffee shop. Anthem CEO Eric Carlson will officially turn the soil during a ceremony at 11 a.m. today, with members of city council, architect Robert Ciccozzi and other dignitaries. The event includes a traditional lion dance ceremony to bring good luck to the site.

The developer reserves the right to make modifications & changes to building design, specifications, features & floor plans. Suite sizes are approximate; actual floor plans & square footages may vary. This is not an offering for sale. Such an offering may only be made after filing a Disclosure Statement.