For almost 20 years, Pasta Polo in Coquitlam has been a part of the fabric of Tri-City community life.
Not only has owner Fred Soofi provided quality Italian food prepared in-house from scratch in a pleasant and attractive environment, but community groups, seniors and health care workers have benefited from his generosity.
Whether preparing and delivering meals to hospital workers during COVID-19, supporting the SHARE Food Bank, helping to start organizations such as the Port Moody Seniors Friendship Club or offering meeting space to local groups, Soofi has been an important community builder.
“Pasta Polo’s success comes from the support of this community, helping and taking care of each other is the most valuable element of a community,” Soofi says.
It’s a philosophy Soofi has held about business since he started his first restaurants in Regina, Saskatchewan, the first city he moved to from his native Iran.
Already trained in the hospitality industry when he arrived to Canada in 1973, Soofi started working in an Italian restaurant under the tutelage of two Italian women. He recalls he was struck by the flavours and simple creativity of the food, which he has expanded upon over the years, coming up with his own recipes to serve at Pasta Polo.
For Soofi, food should be healthy as well as tasty, and he and his 25 full and part time staff take great care of Pasta Polo’s guests and take pride working in an establishment which they have full trust in what they prepare and serve.
Fresh pasta, focaccia bread, all sauces, desserts are made on site, meat is ground in the kitchen, herbs are grown in a mini greenhouse and produce is sourced locally, with staff hand picking the tomatoes, and using only fresh, antibiotic-free chicken.
Since the restaurant opened in 2001, Soofi has seen a number of changes in the industry and has adopted many of them, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free offerings. Pasta Polo’s part owner/kitchen manager, Ms. Ahyoung Baek, is a terrific addition, says Soofi , because she loves to prepare healthy, delicious food, and Madame Sylvie Sutherland, general manager, with many years of experience (she served Prime Minister PE Trudeau) is a great contributor to Pasta Polo being chosen as Number 1 Italian Restaurant in Tri City for the past several years.
Admittedly, COVID-19 has been a challenge for many restaurateurs, but Soofi has managed to survive with some creative solutions, including an option for patrons to purchase an entrée such as lasagna, cannelloni, chicken Parmesan, manicotti, ravioli, and other dishes to bake or microwave at home, at a cost 30 per cent less than dine-in.
“This is very popular for many families, nutritious meals at a very reasonable cost the family can enjoy together at home,” he says.
Still, while COVID-19 has been difficult for a community-minded person such as Soofi, who misses the face-to-face camaraderie people used to take for granted, he’s optimistic that the Tri-Cities will come through these challenging times if everyone is kind and caring of one another.
For more information, visit www.pastapolo.com.