It’s impossible to walk through the doors of Bear and Joey and not feel transported to another place. With it’s pink walls, lush tropical leaf print wallpaper, curvy blush hued banquettes and gold art deco details, this dreamy Victoria, BC cafe and brunch spot looks like it belongs in Miami, Sydney, Palm Springs — anywhere but on the West coast of Canada.
Desperate for a change of scenery without leaving my hometown, I’ve made regular pilgrimages to Bear and Joey throughout the pandemic for a latte or one of their signature breakfast sandwiches (paprika aioli, spinach, bacon, fried egg, tomato-onion jam, brioche bun). With an expansive, sunny patio facing Cook St, Bear and Joey is an ideal destination for when you feel like you need to inject a bit of vacation energy into your everyday life.
It wasn’t until I discovered wedding photos on Instagram that were taken in Bear and Joey by Julia Loglisci Photography (top photo credit), that I learned the lively cafe also moonlights as a wedding and event space. To get more details, I caught up with Cheryl Williams, Bear and Joey’s Event Coordinator.
While the cafe is best known as a coffee and brunch spot, Williams says that positioning it as an event space was always part of the plan. “The room and patio area were designed keeping events in mind. There is a certain electricity when you have a room full of friends and family celebrating, so we are very privileged to provide the backdrop,” says Williams.
With warm weather destination weddings on hold for many people at the moment, unconventional, bright, colourful, plant-filled spaces like Bear and Joey are the perfect venue for couples who yearn for a destination wedding but can’t get away just yet because of Covid-19.
When asked what inspired the distinct tropical-chic vibe of the space, Williams says, “our inspiration came from a desire to create something elegant, yet fun and casual. We wanted to offer a vibrant escape for guests that’s totally unique to Victoria.”
In a city which is dominated by west coast boho vibes and rustic minimalism, the pink playfulness of Bear and Joey stands out like a flamingo amongst a flock of seagulls. Turns out, that’s the point. “Unique rarely translates to “safe” but we wanted to cater to the few, rather than the masses,” says Williams.
As Williams points out, Bear and Joey isn’t just a cafe and event space, “we are in the experience business.” She says what sets them apart, is a staff that’s committed to creating an amazing experience for wedding parties and guests alike. “They are truly hospitality professionals and genuinely care for our guests. They understand everyone is different with unique needs, and because of that, we encourage guests to bring us their vision, for us to execute with their help,” she says.
Secondly, Williams says, “we sweat the little things. For us, there are no details too small, and we are constantly seeking ways to truly delight and exceed expectations. Offering a casual, yet refined service is not easy, but we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver each and every day!”
Since no event is ever the same, Bear and Joey don’t believe in charging a blanket rental charge. Once Williams has a better understanding of your vision, she will establish a transparent Venue Hire Fee in addition to a food and beverage package. The fee is based on your guest count, style of service, event duration and any unique event requests and requirements you may require.
They offer two kinds of food and beverage service: Canape and Family Style.
Canape service is available for up to 90 guests (however, max numbers are likely to be much smaller depending on the current Covid restrictions) and includes an eclectic mix of fresh, Pacific Rim inspired favorites like pork bao (soy & ginger pork belly, beer bao slice, green onion, kewpie mayo), compressed watermelon (soy & ginger, kimchi rind, coconut yoghurt) and savoury Australian beef pie with tomato chilli jam.
Family style service where guests can sit, share and feast is available for up to 60 guests (however, max numbers are also likely to be much smaller depending on the current Covid restrictions) and starts at $62/guest.
In true West coast fashion, couples can also request extras like a shucked-to-order oyster bar for an additional cost.
Want to do something wonderfully weird, whacky or out of the ordinary? The Bear and Joey team are game! Just ask. Williams and the rest of the team will work hard to create an intimate and memorable event to remember.
Simone Paget is a food, travel and lifestyle writer based on the West Coast of Canada. She’s a nationally syndicated sex and relationship columnist for the Toronto Sun and the author of the blog SkinnyDip.ca. Her work has appeared in/on publications such as The Apartment Therapy, Chowhound, and the Washington Post.
For more adventures and insights, follow her on Twitter and Instagram