Oct. 17, 2012 - Issue #887: Dedfest
Compassion the key of B’s
Beloved local diner's owners love to give back
"Doctors, lawyers and homeless!" Ziniak playfully suggests when asked who comes through the doors of their restaurant. At the couple's previous location, the latter of his answer were a large focus of the diner; through them, food and warm clothing were made available to Old Strathcona's abundant homeless population. Successful winter clothing drives, combined with Brenda's home-style cooking provided a refuge not found elsewhere on their side of the river.
Since August 2011, B's has been storefront on east Whyte Ave, occupying the old Global TESOL building. The friendly, comfortable, family atmosphere not found in chain establishments remains very much intact; the long-loyal patrons instinctually top up their own coffees or take their dirty dishes to the back when things get a little busier during the weekend breakfast rush.
B's menu boasts home-style cooked breakfasts—"best in town" being a known designation—along with specials that are unique to the couple's heritages: Ukrainian, Polish, German and Asian dishes are mixed and matched, sticking with ones that satisfy their guests the most. After deciding to expand the dinner menu several years ago, the Asian hot pot has become a staple among the evening crowd.
Tragedy struck in the summer of 2010 when Der lost her son Jeremy to the North Saskatchewan river while on a camping trip. In the wake of such tragedy, many parents would be reluctant to pursue such a familiar course in life. Ziniak and Der, however, have fought harder than ever before—inquiring about their involvement in charity work results in two full pages of notes.
Though still active in providing for the local homeless, they were prompted to shift their focus to the less fortunate children of the inner city. Once a month, the couple provides hot lunches to three schools with above-average numbers of underprivileged kids, feeding 150 students per school.
"There are places in the city where homeless adults can go," Der notes. "They have made their choices in life, but for kids, there aren't nearly as many resources. Kids are silent about things, and often get overlooked in these situations."
"Especially when your parents are, say, junkies," Ziniak adds in a solemn break from his unfaltering friendliness.
The husband and wife team each stress the need for donations of any kind; they use their tips for a budget, and volunteer on Mondays and Tuesdays—their days off. Food-wise, meat is needed the most, chicken being the "safest" for certain religious groups in the school system. They wish to invest in a larger refrigerator, include more schools in their hot lunch service, and someday provide hands-on field trips that teach healthy eating and cooking to children in need.
In addition to hosting a seniors group every Sunday, B's Diner also contributes to WIN House, Kids Cottage, the Old Strathcona Youth Co-Op, and various charity Christmas parties, among others. There is of course their own annual Christmas party for their customers and local homeless—last year's entertaining nearly 400 people.
From the transition to their current location, to the continual donation of perogies from a farmers market vendor, to everything in between, the eclectic customer base of B's Diner has been with them through the years; any new support they get is encouraged and welcome.
"Everyone has their own great ideas," beams Der. "That's what makes the world go around."
10037 Whyte Ave
780.414.6040 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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