Familiar Faces: Shawn Corke of Beach Grove Cafe

Familiar Faces: Shawn Corke of Beach Grove Cafe

Oct 18, 2018

You may walk into the Beach Grove Cafe in Sunny Tsawwassen looking for a coffee and a bite to eat, but owner Shawn Corke has created a feast for the senses as well.

The cafe is adorned with festive decorations for autumn, with yellow flowers, orange pumpkins and seasonally inscribed mugs and candle holders.

You can buy coffee mugs and signs with expressions such as "Coffee before Talkie" or "All you need is Love and a Cat" and "We need to have a 'Bring your wine to work day," among others.

Such eclectic merchandise in a cafe is a business philosophy of sorts for Shawn, who opened nine years ago with wide support from the Beach Grove neighbourhood.

"If you're in a cafe you should have nice things to look at that are beautiful," she says. "I don't know why more businesses don't do this. Because if you're sitting in a chair for an hour why not have home decor or art or scarves or jewellery or purses? It's winner-winner, chicken dinner."

Although she spent the majority of her life working as a flight attendant, the cafe-boutique wasn't a far-flung an idea as her retirement business. Shawn ran a Christmas Fair out of her home in Tsawwassen for years called the Jingle Bells Shop. When she originally wanted to start a business it was in the hopes of making the Christmas Fair a year-round opportunity.

It was in 2008 that she learned from friends that a space in Beach Grove was for sale. The location had been home to numerous businesses over the years, from convenience store to automotive repair to fast food.

Because of municipal zoning bylaws, Shawn wasn't able to open her Christmas shop. But she worked hard to rally the neighbourhood behind her, receiving 800 signatures from locals to get a business license and open the cafe.

"So, for me, this place is for the people. That's why I call it the Beach Grove Cafe. I didn't call it Shawn's Cafe. It's for the people that supported me to get me into business in the first place."

Shawn spent the next year splitting time between her last year flying and renovating the shop to open, a period she can now look back upon and fondly call it her "hell year."

But she says it was all worth it. She raised her daughter here, close to her parents, while living in the community where she runs her business.

"Tsawwassen is small and quaint. I think it's a great place to raise a family. It has relatively low crime. It's got the features of beaches in close proximity. You don't have to drive very far. It's great if you're into water sports, kayaking. It sort of ticks all the boxes."

The Beach Grove Cafe isn't the only attraction in the area. Five years ago, Shawn leased the next-door space out to a couple from Victoria (by coincidence, the same city she was born and raised), and Sampsons Antique Co. has since become a complementary place to browse for collectibles and jewellery.

As for her own shop, Shawn has already decorated for the season, with pumpkins and skeletons and other knick knacks you can take home with you. So you can come for a panini and a latte and stay for the ambiance.

"It's a nice place to relax with a nice warm and cozy feel to it. If you need something it's one-stop shopping. If your sister has a birthday, well you can buy a scarf or a purse. Or maybe you've just bought a home and you've moved here from Vancouver and you're looking for a home decor item. You might see something you like."

The Beach Grove Cafe can be found by turning east onto 12 th Avenue and then left on Beach Grove Road before the bend leading to Boundary Bay Regional Park.