Patrick Tubajon and I met on a late summer afternoon to discuss Gudrun’s upcoming ten-year anniversary this November. We sat under the impressive oak tree in Gudrun’s peaceful courtyard at the long hemlock table that is literally constructed around the tree. In 2008 Patrick made a mark on the tree in pen to chart its growth, and like his business, he can’t believe how much both have grown.
It seems like yesterday that Patrick was hard at work toiling to get his new business open. I recall passing by and checking in periodically during those eleven months to see what stage he was at with the renovation.
It was a labour of love. He threw his creative talents into the restaurant’s design and construction. With the assistance of a friend who is an architect, Patrick built the two large tables (inside and out), the chandelier, the bar, and the wine wall.
In the ten years since Gudrun opened, Patrick has seen customers’ babies grow up. Some of them celebrate birthdays annually at the restaurant.
Anyone who knows Patrick is familiar with his sense of humour. When asked what his role as an owner entails he says, “I am the janitor; I do repairs, the books, and I am a waiter.”
Gudrun is named after a former roommate who Patrick met while attending L’Universite D’Avignon in France. He says, “Gudrun introduced the world of proper cheese to me.”
Before becoming a restaurateur Patrick wore a variety of artistic hats. He was a dancer, a choreographer, and a wedding planner. He always hoped to one day own a restaurant.
Patrick was raised in Richmond but envisioned his business would be located in Vancouver. He focussed his search there, however, the space he was interested in fell through. Serendipitously, while he was in Steveston walking his dog she pulled him into the secluded courtyard. Patrick discovered an art gallery in the process of closing and knew he had found Gudrun’s home.
Steveston had not seen anything like Gudrun. The cutting edge concept of a tasting room offering cheese, charcuterie, and wine was a welcome addition.
Over the years the concept has evolved. The restaurant’s menu expanded and while the mainstay of cheese and charcuterie remains, there is also a daily fresh sheet that includes some staple items (there might be a mutiny if Gudrun’s mac & five cheese entrée were ever to disappear!) along with another all time favourite, the sticky toffee pudding. You can always count on finding soups and salads, and seasonal entrées. Talented chef Paul Finlay, sous chef Christian Pelech and cook Anthony Lee lead the kitchen. The mandate is to source local ingredients whenever possible.
Everything on the menu is made in-house including the brioche and pasta. Patrick says, “Paul is an awesome master of flavours. He creates such beautiful food.”
“We have a passion for what we put out,” says Patrick. Steveston based Sweet Digz Farm is one of Gudrun’s produce suppliers. The restaurant also sources meat from Two Rivers Speciality Meats and artisanal and small production cheese from Benton Brothers Fine Cheese.
Patrick is honoured that Gudrun has been judged three times by Vancouver Magazine as Best Restaurant in Richmond. The restaurant received silver in 2014 and gold in 2015 and 2018.
Gudrun is a Steveston hub. It’s a place to enjoy an intimate experience as a couple or come together with a group of friends and raise a glass.
Patrick says with gratitude, “I love the people who come here. We have awesome customers.”
Many of Gudrun’s clients are Stevestonites, while others come from as far away as England, Iceland and Manila.
There’s no denying that the food, the B.C. small batch wine list (that rotates frequently) and local craft beers are a huge part of the attraction to Gudrun, but there’s something more that keeps people coming back and that is the staff. In addition to the kitchen team, servers Nancy Pang and Chris Panadero help create the experience along with Patrick’s natural flair as a host, which makes people feel right at home.
Patrick is deeply appreciative of his ensemble and what they can pull off in a small space with limited product. When asked what makes Gudrun special Patrick replies, “It’s a combination of the staff and the passion and creativity that we bring to the restaurant.”
I suspected there would be a story behind the 100-year-old piano that arrived at Gudrun six years ago. With a smile, Patrick reveals, “I won it in a bet with a fisherman.” Customers have been known to play it. Paul is also a talented pianist but leaves his recitals until after hours.
Gudrun also offers dinner clubs with seven course meals for up to 34 people. Ask Patrick for more details. As well, the bistro has hosted numerous weddings; Patrick’s previous job as a wedding planner fits naturally with these functions. Couples have travelled from Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Palm Springs to hold their wedding and reception at Gudrun.
On a personal note, Patrick would like to express his sincere appreciation to the many Stevestonites who supported and offered help when his house burnt down two years ago. He concludes, “It’s an amazing community. I am now back on my feet.”
150-3500 Moncton Street
Richmond, BC V7E 3A2