– Words by Toby Tannas Photography by Lia Crowe
Prior to its re-imagining, this cosy corner within the Kelowna Yacht Club (KYC) was not living up to its potential. But boasting walls of windows, a million-dollar view of Okanagan Lake and access to a busy public promenade, the space was not destined to remain a boardroom forever.
The Galley Lakeside Cafe opened its giant glass doors for the first time in June 2021, but the plan for this extension of the KYC had been percolating for months.
“The main idea was a place for people to grab and go,” says Pooya Ebrahim, food and beverage manager for the KYC and The Galley Lakeside Cafe. “For our members, for people on the promenade, there was really nothing like it in this immediate vicinity.”
As a private facility, the KYC Member Lounge and amenities are for yacht club members only. The Galley, though, is fully accessible to the public. With a large, covered outdoor patio, heaters, fire tables and bright Adirondack chairs, The Galley is just a few steps off of the bustling waterfront promenade. It’s an ideal spot to sip a freshly brewed latte, local cider or a glass of VQA wine and watch the people go by. Even your four-legged friend is welcome both inside and out at this dog-friendly cafe.
“We’ve had a very, very positive response,” says Pooya. “Members love the convenience of coming off their boats in the morning and grabbing a coffee and breakfast. The community loves the atmosphere and the food.”
The Galley’s mission is to showcase seasonal, locally grown and crafted products.
“We work with ChaiBaba and Giobean Coffee, just to name a few. This is about bringing the best local products we can offer into the best spot, the best location in Kelowna,” Pooya explains.
Executive chef Jeff Burns and his kitchen team were up to the challenge of creating a new kind of food experience at KYC.
“We have a really good team. We want to highlight the level of what we can provide in the private dining room to members of the public,” he says.
From soups, salads and sandwiches to charcuterie boards, wraps and baked goods, The Galley team kicks typical breakfast and lunch fare up a notch.
“When it comes to our sandwiches, we sous vide the turkey in house, so it’s fresh. We marinate our strip loin and roast it nice and slow and then shave it,” Jeff says.
The food is eye-popping. And it’s beautiful on purpose—aesthetic plays a big role in what Jeff’s team creates.
“Our goal is for it to be an elevated and unique experience. In this day and age, if your food doesn’t look like it could be posted on Instagram, it’s not going to be as popular,” he says with a chuckle.The Galley is definitely Instagram worthy. The cafe’s modern nautical theme is bright, clean and pleasing. The menu is prime and with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free offerings—there’s something here for everyone.
“We’re always looking to keep it fresh, change it up,” Jeff says.
New to the breakfast menu this season is The Captain’s Breakfast Croissant. It calls for patrons to start their day with an over-medium egg, Swiss cheese, arugula, tomato and garlic aioli warmed to perfection in a flaky croissant. It’s delicious with a steaming Americano.
Ditch the cold cuts at lunch and go for the sous vide turkey or slow-roasted beef on flavourful focaccia. Make it a lunch special by adding the soup of the day.
Vegan friends, you must bite into Chef Burns’ take on the bánh mì sandwich. It’s a hearty choice, featuring a cauliflower fritter, sriracha aquafaba mayo, house chili sauce, cucumber, radish, cilantro, pickled carrots and red onion.
Maybe it’s a savoury charcuterie and bottle of wine after an afternoon sail, maybe you need something to refresh and rehydrate after a waterfront walk; maybe sunset calls for a taste of sweet, locally made gelato. The Galley Lakeside Cafe aims to satisfy cravings at any time of day.
Watch for extended hours, live patio entertainment and more surprises this season as The Galley team looks to build off of last year.
“After construction delays last spring, we opted for a soft opening but we have something splashy planned this year,” says Pooya. “We’re fine-tuning, expanding our take-away catering for larger groups and working with new community partners.”
From an under-utilized boardroom in 2020 to a semi-secret waterfront gem in 2021, The Galley Lakeside Cafe is primed to hit full stride in 2022. Make sure to plan a pit stop on your next jaunt along the downtown promenade.