This is one in a series of articles in the feature called "Let's Eat" which focuses on the local food and dining scene.
This time we touch base with the owner of Syl's Neighbourhood Kitchen at 850 McKeown Avenue.
Sylain Rivet says when they opened three years ago (in the former St Louis Ribs and Wings location), they wanted to offer something somewhat familiar but still a little different. The idea behind his restaurant is that it isn't "just a breakfast place" or "just a diner" (although there's nothing wrong with those) but more of a neighbourhood gathering place. Some folks liken it to the feel of an east coast kitchen party.
"It's a good time, with good food, good prices, and an up-to-date modern atmosphere, with a non-pretentious vibe," says Rivet.
"We support local whenever we can, and we did with all of our renovations and updates. in fact, to capture that very specific atmosphere we were after we hired local designer Clinton Hummel, and he handled all of the design so the customer would get that welcoming, positive, affordable feeling."
When you enter the place one of the things that jumps out at you is the clean, bright atmosphere, and that's also thanks to the design.
Another thing you'll notice is a commitment to customer service.
A great example would be a recent post seen on Facebook from a local resident that said "We got Syls tonight and since they were busy they forgot the gravy to my hot chicken sandwich, not only did they bring me gravy they also brought a whole new meal!!! Amazing customer service! I haven't experienced that type of kindness before! 10/10."
Rivet says he has a great team and they hit it out of the park the vast majority of the time, but he says everyone makes mistakes.
"It's how you deal with them, that shows the customers you care. It's what you learn from them that continually makes you better at what you do."
Syl's has many menu mainstays that North Baby traditionally loves like all-day breakfasts, burgers, wings, and nightly dinner specials.
However, Syl says those are not the most popular items that sell the most over and over, month after month.
"For us, it's wraps, the sandwiches, the club sandwiches, and the salads."
He says they've also found that their clientele seems to enjoy new things and flavours being added to the menu.
"We've found success by adding new flavours, and new flavour sensations. For example, we have a Korean fried cauliflower that has picked up tremendously. We've added more burritos. All of our rices are from scratch and have cilantro and lime. The chicken for our tacos and burritos is marinated in green salsa, People seem to be very open to new flavours now and we accommodate them," he adds.
Like everyone else, Syl was hit with the COVID crisis. They closed for five weeks. then they opened with take out. They also expanded their delivery service - you can order through their website syls,ca as well as through Skip The Dishes.
With their patio now re-opened, that's been another bonus that has kept them busy.
"We've been very fortunate, we've brought back most of the staff that we had to lay off in March, and we're busy enough now that we are hiring as well," says Rivet.