An outdoor shopping mall without vehicles?
That is what Port Coquitlam has created with the Montrose Square development, which borders on the new Terry Fox Hometown Square on Kelly Avenue, right behind the Port Coquitlam Community Centre (PCCC).
And the lucky merchants who have leased or purchased space in the development have the luxury of doing business with more relaxed clientele who've left their vehicles in free parking at the PCCC's massive parking garage.
For outside, Port Coquitlam's newest café looking onto the Terry Fox plaza is a patio, where folks can sip coffee, have a snack and people-watch.
"It's such a good spot," said Ali Picco, spokesperson for Delish Gluten-Free Bakery, whom on Thursday (June 2) was serving up customers at Caffé Delish, the bakery's newest enterprise, which just opened this week.
During one of the season's hottest days, several customers were relaxing over lattes and tea at small tables set outside, while across from them on the plaza, the Port Coquitlam Farmer's Market hosted its opening day.
Owner Jenna Fidanza already owns the popular Delish Gluten-free bakery at 203-I730 Coast Meridian Rd., and decided to expand to a café so more people can enjoy the treats they love, such as bars, brownies and scones, which are gluten-free.
Fidanza's love for baking started at a young age and, as she grew and gained experience, she eventually started baking products of her own.
She sought out ways to help her grandmother find better alternatives for her condition — hence her gluten-free focus.
The café is one of a number of new businesses that have opened in Montrose Square, a mixed-use development that also includes townhouses, and, when complete, a 2,000 sq-ft. indoor playground by Port Coquitlam business Orca Coast Playgrounds Ltd.
Other new businesses in the development include Angie Hair Design, Rasa Flow Yoga, snack shop Ilu's Convenience, that also offers ice cream treats, Sunfire Pizzeria, and Nest Yah, which sells housewares, many imported from Japan, Including Hario coffee and tea equipment, as well as art, decorative items and locally-made soap.
Nest Yah is owned by Sabrina Sun, an interior designer, and opening soon is Koza Skin Clinic.
It's rare that an outdoor shopping mall is vehicle-free, and though drive-by businesses are rare, owners told the Tri-City News through word of mouth that more people are dropping by.
As well, many of the businesses, including Delish, already have a following, many of them because they started online first before opening a brick and mortar store.
It may likely help the Port Coquitlam Farmers Market, which already is a huge draw for locals and visitors, taking place Thursdays from 3-7 p.m., up to Sept. 29 and, as well, dozens of families will be filtering through the area as they take part in activities at the PCCC.