There's more life on the mountain

March 24, 2005, vol. 32, no. 6
By Diane Luckow

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After almost 40 years with few retail amenities, the SFU Burnaby campus community can finally drop off dry cleaning, pick up milk on the way home and enjoy a wider variety of dining options now that the Cornerstone building in UniverCity is open for business.

Surprisingly, three of the new tenants are SFU alumni.

Already open at Cornerstone are Falafel and Donair, Eyes in Motion, Himalayan Peak restaurant, Ichibankan Express, Nature's Garden organic deli, Renaissance coffee, Viewpoint Marketplace, and a drycleaner. Opening soon are Dollars and Scents, Planet Pizza, the SFU microcomputer store with postal outlet, a hair salon, a video outlet, and a printing shop. Later this summer watch for a gift shop and Millington's butcher shop. Michael Geller, president and CEO of the SFU Community Trust, is still searching for several more tenants including a pub operator and a cycle/sports shop tenant. He says a financial institution may also open a branch in the building.

Restaurant a sound business venture

Opening a 70-seat restaurant adjacent to the new Town and Gown square seemed like a sound business idea to SFU alumnus, student and staff member Aman Bhangu.

After all, his SFU education - a BSc in mathematics (2001), a graduate diploma in business administration (2003), his current studies in the flex-time global asset and wealth management MBA program and his job as a statistical analyst in the university's analytical studies department - all helped ensure his 10-year growth projections and business plan were right on the money.

So Bhangu agreed to join two other entrepreneurs to open the Himalayan Peak restaurant. Despite his full-time job and MBA commitments, Bhangu found and organized the engineers, designers and construction workers to build the space, designed the logo and menus, purchased furniture and arranged for staffing. He even created the art on the walls.

“I'd never done anything like this before,” he says. “I used skills accrued in my position here and that I've picked up from school - it's a nice hybrid of all my experiences.”

The restaurant has an authentic clay oven for tandoori dishes and Indian bread and the head chef, who is also an owner, specializes in north Indian cuisine. Since opening, the restaurant has enjoyed a full house at its lunchtime buffet and a large clientele for dinners and on Saturdays, as well.

The Himalayan Peak is open weekdays from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and from noon-9 p.m. on Saturdays.

Organic delicatessen does it naturally

After attending SFU in the late 1960s during the era of flower power and long-haired mountain men, what could be more natural than returning to SFU to open an organic deli in the new UniverCity development?

Dolores and William Storness-Bliss, owners of the Nature's Garden organic deli in the new Cornerstone building, met at SFU in 1969 and graduated in 1972, William in psychology and Dolores with a teaching certificate.

After living for years in Burns Lake, where William taught school and became an elected village counsellor and Dolores ran her own health food store and organic cafe, they decided to return to Burnaby. The UniverCity opportunity seemed like a great fit.

“I believe there are enough people on campus who are interested in their health and eating well and who will want what we're offering - a homemade, nutritious alternative,” says Storness-Bliss, who uses organic ingredients to make her own soups, custom-made sandwiches, pies, cookies, cakes, and salads, as well as entrees such as pot pie, quiche and lasagna.

Everything but the bread is made fresh on the premises - Dolores even soaks and cooks her own beans rather than using canned.

She offers alternatives for people with dietary restrictions, such as dairy-free and vegan menu items and, for folks who can't face making dinner at home, she offers family-sized portions of her popular entrees for take-out.

Nature's Garden is open weekdays from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Optician feels he's come back home

Youth worker and SFU psychology alumnus Gurjant Mann never imagined he'd be setting up shop atop Burnaby Mountain, but he and his wife Raj opened the Cornerstone building's first retail shop, Eyes in Motion, last November.

Raj, a contract faculty instructor at Douglas College's dispensing optician program, was filling in her spare time with a mobile glasses and sunglasses business, which she occasionally set up in the AQ, when she heard about the Cornerstone building's retail opportunities. “She'd had some success with the mobile business, so we checked out Cornerstone and decided to try it,” says Gurjant, who graduated in 2001. “It's exciting to be back at SFU, I feel like I've come back home.”

He notes that fair prices and personalized service are helping to double their sales figures each month. Eyes in Motion offers vision testing for clients and specializes in contact lens fitting and monitoring services. The store carries more than 500 different frame styles from more than 30 manufacturers.

Eyes in Motion is open Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. To learn more visit

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