At Home on Steveston’s Pier
Pierside Deli is the epitome of a mom and pop business. This small, independent restaurant is owned and operated by Janice Sieg with the support of family members and even friends who pitch in to assist when she takes an occasional well earned vacation.
This long-time Stevestonite did not set out to be a restaurant owner, but circumstances and determination drove her to open Pierside Deli, which is now celebrating its tenth anniversary.Ten years ago Janice was having an ice cream cone on Steveston’s pier with her husband Rainer. The high school sweethearts are sentimentally attached to this spot where they went on their first ice cream date 25 years ago. On this particular day they were feeling troubled – Rainer had been forced to change careers while Janice was a stay at home mother caring for their three children. Janice recalls noticing a for lease sign in the window of what is now Pierside Deli, and she made a spontaneous decision to apply for a bank loan and open her own business. She was determined to be self-employed so they would be in control of their financial destiny.
Pierside Deli opened its door Easter weekend 2007. Janice is proud to report that other than Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt she is now the longest standing small business on the pier (excluding the larger restaurants). She intends to celebrate Pierside’s anniversary this Easter with a large cake to thank her customers.
Janice studied accounting in college, which has come in useful with the administrative end of her business. She admits that although she did not have professional culinary experience she likes to cook and found the idea of running a sandwich shop appealing.
The small restaurant has become a hub for fishermen, locals and tourists alike to enjoy breakfast, lunch and goodies.
Janice says, “All of the food at Pierside Deli is homemade but simple. I don’t like doing crazy things because my customers don’t want that.” Instead she keeps her menu familiar and it is designed largely around customer requests.
If you are looking for all-day breakfast Pierside offers a number of choices to satisfy a hearty appetite including the Fisherman’s Breakfast (two eggs, two bacon strips, two sausages, two slices of toast and hash browns) the Pierside omelette, French toast, and a number of breakfast bagels. Several menu items are named after customers (Joe’s Breakfast, Spencer’s Breakfast Bagel and Jack’s Shrimp Panini Melt) because her regulars are the heartbeat of the business.
Paninis, sandwiches, wraps and baked goods satisfy the afternoon crowd. Diners can warm up during the winter months with comforting bowls of soup and chilli. Janice is proud to report that other than the Seafood Club which costs a modest $8.25, all of her sandwiches fall under $7.00. She has made a great effort to barely raise prices in ten years.
A top selling item is Pierside’s propeller fries, which can be spotted all over Steveston on busy summer days as people eat them off a skewer while browsing the village. Last year on Canada Day Janice smiles when she mentions they sold so many they could hardly keep up.
Over 13,000 propeller fries have been sold since Janice started making them.
Pierside Deli has an exclusive partnership to provide packed lunches for both of Steveston’s whale watching companies’ lunch charters (Vancouver Whale Watch and Steveston Seabreeze Adventures). Janice recalls the relationship began with Vancouver Whale Watch when her oldest son Alex was a boy (he is now a commercial fisherman). He would hang out at the dock and ended up volunteering with Vancouver Whale Watch.
Over time a lunch tie in was worked out which has been going strong for eight years. Owner Cedric Towers and his staff have been extremely supportive of Pierside Deli. Janice says, “It takes a village to raise a child – and a business!”
Rainer comes in most mornings to open the restaurant before he heads off to his job as a subcontracting painter with the City of Surrey. Janice says, “He makes coffee and hashes it out with the guys until I arrive.”
Everything at Pierside Deli has evolved naturally, from a shelf designated to hold regular patron’s coffee mugs (they bring them in for their own use, a trend that evolved when Rainer began bringing in his cup) to the “Captain’s Galley,” a wall of photos customers have shared — it’s very informal and down to earth, which is reflective of Janice. If you are a regular customer you likely won’t have to place your order as she has a keen memory and will create your favourite menu item.
“It’s like our home and when customers come to Pierside it’s their place too.” Janice Sieg
She says, “I love what I’m doing. I love people. Everyone knows everything about me.” Janice is a very forthright person and enjoys sharing stories. What goes around comes around and her customers care about her too; Janice was touched to receive get well soon cards when she was in the hospital.
Janice is extremely thankful for her family’s help. Her daughter Kaitlyn works with her throughout the summer and her niece and Alex’s girlfriend Jayden also work shifts. With gratitude she says, “I don’t want this to be a stressful place for them. I want it to be fun.”
What does she enjoy most about her business? Hands down it is the people, from the tourists who patronize her business (she has a fun time trying to guess their accents) to the fishermen and other locals who come in every day to dine, drink coffee and hang out.
Pierside Deli is open every day of the year including Christmas. She mentions that it has become a tradition for people to drop in for a Christmas bagel. On sunny warm evenings she will stay open later if people are milling about.
Janice appreciates Rainer’s advice to stick it out during the tough early days when she was getting established. Janice says it has paid off, and she is happy to be doing what she loves in such a beautiful location.
115-3800 Bayview Street
Richmond BC V7E 6K7