Folke’s Pricilla Deo and Colin Uyeda have forged a path for an equitable and sustainable future, where staff are cared for, and so is the Earth. From the no–tipping policy to an all–local wine list and the delicious desserts, Pricilla Deo talks about doing everything right.
enRoute Neither you nor Colin are vegan, so why open a vegan restaurant? Is it the way forward for a sustainable restaurant culture?
Pricilla Deo I was vegan for about six years, and one thing we noticed was there was a lack of vegan options in the city as everyone was doing a similar thing: vegan fast food or meat substitutes. We wanted to offer a different realm of vegan food, highlighting vegetables and our local farmers. I think there’s often a preconception with vegan food that you have to recreate a hot dog or steak, but most vegans don’t want that.
ER How did you successfully execute the staff’s living wage?
PD Of course, our payroll expenses are incredibly high but with just eight staff it’s manageable. We wanted a place where they could have a work/life balance and feel cared for, and we didn’t want to be the type of owners that were profiting heavily off of everything. We get the same wage and health coverage as our staff.
ER Your desserts! Why are so many vegan kitchens using heavy oils and coconut? What’s your secret?
PD I get the comment a lot, that this doesn’t taste like a vegan dessert. I think people get stuck in their ways, wanting to replicate textures and flavours. I use a lot of silken tofu and that creates richness. I can just look at something and figure out the right balance. There are so many vegan milks and butters and egg substitutes that it’s not that difficult.
ER The wine list and restaurant design fit the flow. How did you go about choosing them?
PD Our list is all local to B.C. and we use smaller–scale wineries; it’s full of low–intervention, natural or organic wines. We wanted the room to feel comforting and casual, like you’re at a friend’s place for dinner. Homey and welcoming. We did all the renovations and decorations ourselves. I did the dried floral arrangements!
ER Best of this, Michelin that... What a great first year. Any thoughts?
PD I think what’s happening is amazing, but we never want the vibe of Folke to change. We’re really proud of our restaurant: It’s so great to see our little dream come true.