By Cindy Damphousse
There’s a new place in Ladysmith that is so sweet and savoury you just have to go. Extensive renovations have transformed the little blue building beside City Hall into the Ironworks Café & Creperie. Owners Dina Stuehler and Cayce Horn are proud of all they have accomplished so far with the newest eatery in Ladysmith.
Dina, originally from Ontario but now calls the Island home, has a background in the hospitality industry. For many years, she had worked on cruise ships that allowed her the opportunity to visit coffee plantations around the world. This gave her insight into what beans work best in different applications. She was also trained by a Belgium Red Seal Chef and has perfected the art of making the perfect crepe.
Cayce, born here on the island, is a journeyman welder by trade. He is new to the crepe business, but has caught on very quickly, as he was the one creating crepes for the mid-morning coffee rush when we were there. The two met at a work-out session and have been together ever since. Little secret: she approached him to start the ball rolling! As Cayce likes to point out, “When she wants to do something, she gets it done immediately.” Same with the café.
At first the couple looked in the Chemainus area, but found things were not moving as quickly as they had hoped. So after driving through Ladysmith and seeing a building that would soon be vacant, they visited with the owner and the rest is sweet history. After tearing the building on the inside down to the studs, with help from their family, they have created a bright and welcoming café. They are not finished yet, as they have big plans for the patio area.
Ironworks Café & Creperie specializes in freshly brewed coffee using Café Umbria beans, and they are serious about the coffee — the beans, the coffee maker and the brewing techniques — all to make that perfect cup of coffee. All the cups and lids are recyclable, as the café is aiming high to reduce their footprint with strict composting and recycling methods. Now on to the star of the show — the crepes. A great selection of sweet and savoury crepes are available, with daily specials on the board. For all those that would like to enjoy these treats, but may have dietary issues, menu items are available in gluten-free or vegan options. It is so fun to watch them create your order. When the batter hits the hot grill and the steam comes up, you know heaven is close.
We tried a sweet and a savoury menu item, and with our bunch at the office, they were both a hit. The crepes are light and yet crispy and filled to the brim with goodness. The savoury breakfast crepe was filled with eggs, ham, bacon, mushroom and cheese, with a dollop of béchamel for good measure. And the sweet we tried was the daily special — a banana crème pie, filled with a silky smooth custard, large pieces of banana, a light dusting of graham cracker crumbs and whipped cream. Yummy! I’m on the sweet side of the debate. I washed it all down with a latte. No need for lunch today.
The pair is very enthusiastic about the café and hold themselves to high standards. Creating a place where people can gather for a great cup of coffee or tea and a tasty treat made the way you like it. Since opening in March, Dina and Cayce expected to have a slow soft opening, but that has not been the case. “Ladysmith has been so supportive,“ says Diana. When we were there, a steady stream of smiling customers passed through their doors.