Coffee lovers are clinking their mugs together in celebration of London Landing’s new and much-needed coffee shop.

Tim Lee is the owner of Sanctuary Café. Born and raised in Richmond, he has lived in Steveston for 16 years. His diverse career history includes working in human resources and healthcare. While Tim enjoyed his jobs he says, “I realized there had to be something more.”

Last year an idea began to percolate; Tim dreamt up a way to combine his passion for cycling with his love of coffee.

His vision was to get people out of their cars and have them walk, run or cycle to Sanctuary Café for great coffee, food and conversation.

While travelling in Europe with his wife Erin and their son Jamieson, they discovered a completely different coffee culture from North America’s hurried paper cup ‘grab a coffee and go’ culture. In Italy they met a gentleman who pointed out if you don’t have time to sit down and enjoy coffee in a mug then don’t have it. They thoroughly agree.

Sanctuary Café’s philosophy is written on the wall: “Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see.” Tim believes these words can be applied to both cycling and coffee culture. He encourages people to spend time winding down with friends. Jamieson agrees and adds, “I hope Sanctuary Café plays a part in helping people live in the moment.”

Sanctuary Café opened in mid-May and has received a warm welcome in this growing pocket of Steveston.

Choosing a location came easily. As a cyclist Tim knows it can be complicated to stop for coffee in Steveston village on busy weekends. He was aware London Landing was underserved and he wanted to situate Sanctuary Café on this well-travelled cycling route at the south end of No. 2 Road which groups pass en route to Finn Slough and Rice Mill Road.

As an additional perk, Sanctuary Café offers weekly running groups and group rides to bring out the community. The run collective meets Tuesday nights at 6:30 p.m. Ride collectives meet every Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. from May through September (weather permitting). All runs and rides start and finish from Sanctuary Café.

Tim and Jamieson regularly work together at the shop along with a few part-time staff. They are hard at work expanding the menu, brewing coffee and serving baked goods. They are enjoying seeing the business in operation. It’s a family affair, as Erin lends her social media talents and they enjoy bouncing ideas off each another.

The first thing you will notice when you enter Sanctuary Café is a rustic space steeped in character. Plenty of thought went into the shop’s interior, from the faux brick wall (this was a must for Tim), and two other walls constructed from a mixture of reclaimed and new wood. Tim says, “The mix of old and new with a hodge-podge of colours tells a story.”

A centrepiece of the café is a custom-made 10-foot table and benches constructed from a demolished 100-year-old Abbotsford barn. As well, Tim and Jamieson went on a day trip to Bellingham to purchase two 125-year-old church pews, which add to the ambience.

Tim successfully tried his hand at designing and constructing the chandelier hanging over the large table. He laughs and points out he salvaged Jamieson’s bike wheels for the project.

Another element that makes this café stand out is the bike hooks on the walls. Tim and Jamieson are aware that many cyclists are hesitant to park their bikes out of their sight line while they have a coffee. Have no fear, you can bring your bike inside (there’s room for eight) and on weekends a temporary outdoor rack accommodates another 20 bikes.

Jamieson says, “When a group of cyclists arrives it adds to the aesthetic seeing the bikes parked outside.”

While the café has a cycling theme, Tim points out the neighbourhood coffee shop is open to one and all. If you love coffee, baked goods and a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy both, this may become your favourite haunt.

The word is out that Sanctuary Café carries Elmo’s Baking Co.’s double-baked croissants. These buttery pastries have a following and sell out quickly – you have to be there at the right time to nab one! Tim reports one customer caught wind that they carry them and travelled from UBC to make a purchase.

Sausage rolls, muffins, cookies, carrot cake, coconut Nanaimo bars, sweet and savoury scones (lemon fig, raspberry glaze or savoury cheddar onion with chipotle) are also sold. Based on customers’ requests, they are considering expanding the menu to include lunch options.

They also intend to rotate their featured local coffee roasters at regular intervals to expose customers to different beans and flavours.

The father and son team are enjoying this new venture. Jamieson says, “It’s a fun experience working alongside my dad. We’re on the same page.”

Tim concludes, “It’s rewarding to get to this point after all the planning that’s gone into it. It’s kind of like a dream come true.”

To let you in on a secret, if you travel by car there is customer parking on the south side of the café. Don’t let the construction on No. 2 Road put you off, there’s a sanctuary with coffee waiting for you!

Sanctuary Café
160-13020 No 2 Road
Richmond, BC V7E 6S3
Telephone 604-241-7575