Spicy Vancouver business sees profit

Ever heard of sustainable tacos? With a passion for local produce and fresh, homemade ingredients, Bandidas Taqueria is quickly becoming one of the top local haunts in the Commercial Drive area. The all-vegetarian restaurant, which opened this past January, has quickly picked up momentum.

Owners Jackie Avery and Aiyana Kane went to high-school together  where they grew to be both friends and co-workers. They felt unfulfilled in their previous jobs and wanted to work for themselves in a business that was ethically minded. As Avery suggests, “You can be a more sustainable restaurant and have values that you live by and still be successful.”

It’s all about the small details that make Bandidas a commendable and ethical business that still manages to make the grade when the plate hits the table. Corn tortillas are made by hand in the on-site kitchen rather than being brought in bulk, and staff travel by bicycle to pick up ingredients from local markets and shops. “Every day we’re doing one or two trips by the bike,” Avery said. “We have a bike messenger company who does our liquor store runs for us now.”

In addition, the owners shop locally as much as possible, supporting smaller local businesses. “We make a big effort to get everything as close as possible. Things like avocados and pineapple are impossible. We try, but it's in the hands of the distributors.”

Avery notes, “We wanted to do something really fulfilling and inspiring. We've worked at restaurants and schools that weren’t sustainable. We wanted to make our restaurant as sustaining as possible. It costs more money, and effort, but we’ve stuck with our goals and vision from beginning.”

The quirky menu features some new takes on classic recipes by adding in atypical ingredients in hopes of keeping meal options lively and unique. Keeping things fresh and fun makes for a pleasant and renewed dining experience. Of course, drinks are also on the go, with specials for each day of the week (such as Sangria Saturdays).

The restaurant also hosts Vancouver artists on its walls, with new exhibits opening every couple of months. Avery notes, “The art changes about every 2 or 3 months. It's all by local artists within the community and it's all for sale.”

What is next for a business that has already come so far in the ten months since opening? Recently, Bandidas began a new composting program to reduce their waste. “It's more expensive than our regular garbage pick up,” Avery says. “But it's cutting our garbage by at least half already.” Additionally, the owners hope to have more music and events run on weekends.

Bandidas is a good testament to the mandate of making what you want work. Avery has never been happier. “If you want to do something, just do it, even if it's hard and seems impossible. Do what you want and live your life by that code. Don't get stuck in a job where you don’t feel fulfilled.”

//JJ Brewis

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