When North Vancouver-raised Tamera Clark visited the Burquitlam area of Coquitlam with a plan to open a second BjornBar Bakery she had no idea what to expect.
"It was eye opening," said Clark, who started her first BjornBar Bakery in Edgemont Village in 2016, and, in October, 2021, opened a second bakery and café in Coquitlam, just steps away from the Burquitlam SkyTrain station.
Now, in the seven months since BjornBar opened with its cozy indoor and outdoor seating, a bustling community hub has developed.
"I'm trying to create a neighbourhood spot," said Clark, who has decorated the walls of the café with photos of her grandparents, and other close relatives.
"It's all about family for me," said Clark, whose heritage is French and Danish. In fact, she named her business after her brother as well as business partner, whose middle name is Bjorn.
Indeed, it seems that many have found this urban nook just steps away from the Burquitlam SkyTrain station, where condos and townhouses are rising as quickly as corn in hot sun.
Across the street, at Burquitlam Plaza, plans are in the works for 2,175 homes in six towers plus a commercial and transit hub.
Clark said she was introduced to the area by her landlord, Kevington Building Corp.,which recently completed its purpose-built "U" rental tower at the corner of Clarke and Como Lake.
When she toured the building, Clark said she was impressed with the area, including views of the mountains.
"I just love it here," she said, "I'm glad we moved into the neighbourhood."
And so far, the neighbourhood seems to be loving her back.
On the day the Tri-City News visited BjornBar Bakery, located at 111-581 Clarke Rd. in the U tower, the café was busy.
Folks were lined up to purchase a selection of hearty breakfast and lunch sandwiches, tomato basil soup, croissants, cinnamon bars, giant 'ganookies' filled with ganache and dessert-plate sized merengues.
Among Clark's signature pastries are the 30-plus flavours of gourmet dessert 'bars' that are wrapped in foil and boxed up like chocolates.
"We're more flavour forward than sugar forward," said Clark, describing the flavour profiles and taste combinations such as the Brownie Bar, the Cheesy Bar and the Deep, Dark and Spicy Bar.
Among the more popular is the Break Up Bar, that has all the 'spoil yourself' ingredients you'd expect in a desert treat to celebrate a 'break up,' such as chocolate, whipped cream, Baileys and cookie dough.
Clark said word of mouth is bringing people into the café, including U renters who have their own key fob to get in the back door (during opening hours).
It's an ideal spot for an entrepreneur looking to capitalize on the changing demographics of the growing neighbourhood.
West Coquitlam — otherwise known as Burquitlam — is growing so fast it's hard not to wonder if amenities are keeping up with the population.
But efforts are being made.
Nearby, the YMCA is set to open the Bettie Allard YMCA this fall with a pool, fitness and child care centres, and Cottonwood Park is expanding to include a baseball and soccer field, tennis and sports courts plus a lively playground where dozens of kids gather to play made-up games while their caregivers watch.
A number of new businesses are also moving into the area to serve a growing clientele.
Freshii, nearby at 567 Clarke Rd., has established a restaurant, offering bowls, burritos, salads, wraps, soups, smoothies and juices.
As the sign near the entry of Bjorn Bar Bakery states: "We are excited to join the neighbourhood."