FRESH FACES | KRISTINA & JOHANNES
MEET KRISTINA AND JOHANNES VAN BOMMEL VAN VLOTEN, OWNERS OF OLDHAND COFFEE.
Q: What is Oldhand? What inspired you? Why did you create it?
Johannes: It’s a gathering place for our community with a multi-faceted element. Aesthetically, we reappropriated our grandparents’ European heritage, evident by the décor, and we make all of the food by hand.
I love high quality things…was raised with French wine. I view coffee in the same way. People drive into Vancouver for these things, which I think is such a shame. We wanted to bring a higher quality focus into a city that was not really known for that.
Kristina: It’s a place for people to hang out and elevate their coffee experience but, most importantly, it’s about welcoming people into our home. We really love having people over for dinner -- Oldhand is an extension of this.
Johannes: One day we were sitting in Duft & Co. I heard it was good but, honestly, I had low expectations as I questioned the standard of ‘good’. I was so impressed with the quality of the foods and real ingredients cooked with skill. It gave us confidence that we could do it, too, and I hope that we inspire other people to do the same.
Q: How has Abby received you?
Johannes: We watched people come in and create great connections. When you have a place that is aesthetically pleasant, you attract people that are excited and creative.
And, in the broader scheme of everything, people are seeking more of a cultural experience. In our early talks, we talked about Oldhand being a cultural intercessor, and having a holistic space for community to gather. Not another blasé chain café. In the year and a half that we have been here, we have seen the cultural intercession start to happen.
Kristina: We were often getting these very sincere compliments from people where they were thanking us for opening in Abbotsford as now they didn't have to go to Vancouver to get that experience.
Johannes: There was this negative stigma that businesses fail in Abbotsford, but we didn’t agree. We thought that Abby just needed the right people to do the right things.
Q: Why did you choose to locate here?
Johannes: We are both from here. Like many others, we left and spent seven years in Victoria and Vancouver before moving back. Abbotsford is a boomerang city. People leave to have the city experience and then they come back. We wanted to help make Abbotsford more liveable. The people here are good and honest, which is why we are investing in a community that people love.
Q: What are the highlights about living in Abby?
Johannes: We take different routes to work to see Abbotsford in different ways. For example, coming down Downes Rd we enjoy seeing the country side and feel the pride of Abby agriculture. We see forest pockets in 70s suburbs, which is so charming to me. There’s natural beauty all around us.
Kristina: I love Abby because there are quiet places to be that you can’t have in the city. The other day I went to Albert Dyck Park and just sat for half an hour. As a mom, I don’t get that often. And, when I am in town I see all kinds of people that we know. We get both worlds.