If you are a food enthusiast, then you cannot miss the Dine Out Vancouver Festival. It is an annual special event that happens every year in mid-January in Vancouver. Featuring everything from fine dining to family-friendly style offered by hundreds of restaurants, this 17-day festival fulfills all of your imaginable culinary fantasy. (About, n.d.)
The restaurant we went to was Cactus Club Cafe in Surrey. Cactus Club Cafe is a Canadian owned premium casual dining restaurant that has been in operation for roughly 32 years. It serves western dishes using local fresh and high-quality ingredients. Cactus Club first opened in 1988 in North Vancouver, British Columbia by Richard Jaffray and his business partner Scott Morison, they happened to be former employees of Earls restaurant. Prior to that, the founders had set up and sold another restaurant called “Cafe Cucamongas”, which sold mainly coffee and desserts, to pave the way for the Cactus Club. In 1994, the restaurant arrived in Alberta and by 1998, it had had more than 10 establishments across Western Canada. In 2008, the top-rated chef Rob Feenie joined the team as a “food concept architect”. As of now, it employs more than 2000 employees in Canada, where it has a collection of 31 restaurants after 32 years in business. (Our Story, n.d.)
Thanks to the effort and dedication of the restaurant’s staff and managers, The Cactus Club has achieved multiple awards. It’s been voted as the “Best Casual Chain” 3 times in 2012, 2013 and 2017. In 2012, it was also voted 1st place for “The Best Restaurant to Work For” and “The Best Bathrooms”. Moreover, The Cactus Club has been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies eight times in a row, which is a reward for top performers in the F&B industry. (Awards, n.d.)
One of the thing that really impressed us was the server being very welcoming and cordial. She asked us if we would like to start with some drinks as Happy Hours was going on. So, we ordered a virgin mojito, a pint of chilled Heineken beer and a glass of orange juice. Accidentally, the beer got spilled, the server was kind enough to wipe the table immediately and offered us another pint of beer without any extra charges which was a very humble gesture.
Later, we ordered a three-course meal from the Dine out Vancouver menu, including a starter, a main dish, and a dessert. She also mentioned to us about the gluten-free food or dairy-free items which were available in the menu, in case of any allergy. Their menu also featured a variety of vegan-friendly dishes aside from the meat recipes. Some of their most popular dishes were Chimichurri Guacamole, Crispy Yam Fries, Garden Burger, etc. As more and more people are turning towards a healthy and whole-food plant-based diet, adding such alternatives to the menu would attract more customers to the restaurant. So, the first thing which was brought on the table was the Spicy Chicken, which comprised of sweet chili glaze, crispy wontons, and green onions. The chicken was tender and juicy. Pairing with the crispiness of the wonton, it gave the dish a wonderful texture. The spiciness, with a sweet undertone, further helped to enhance the flavor. This delicious dish, without being too much is an excellent option for an appetizer.
Next, for the main course, we chose a vegetarian dish “Tofu Modern Bowl” and we asked for a separate bowl of the dish without the mushrooms for one of our mates as he was allergic to mushrooms. The dish featured a colorful mix of vegetables served alongside grilled tofu and jasmine rice. The presentation of the dish was rather appealing. The freshness of vegetables combined with the chewy texture of grilled tofu was absolutely stunning. The miso carrot ginger sauce gave a nice extra flavor to the dish. Overall, this is a perfect choice as a vegan option.
In the end, we had a chocolate peanut butter crunch bite served with the Tahitian vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce with crunchy chocolate pearls as toppings. The sweet caramel sauce brought out the chocolate even better. The flavor was very classic, and the plating was great as well. The flavor of each component was balanced, without one overwhelming the others. If you have a sweet tooth, then this is a must-try dessert. For us, it was a value for money deal. The meal, which included an appetizer, a main course and a dessert, was very fulfilling. In total it was a pocket-friendly package which cost us around 35$ because of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival. If we had to order it on a regular day, it would have cost us around 70$.
Cactus Club Café is very operative on social media. Other than their main website, they also have accounts on major social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc, which are updated regularly. One can get information about all new offers through them. All the accounts on the websites are usually with the same name @cactusclubcafe. They also have another Instagram account @lifeatcactus in which they usually post what happens behind closed doors at Cactus Club Café. (Contact Us, n.d.) They also use various hashtags which are used to gain social media audience. They are very responsive on their social media handles. In fact, they were also awarded the Best Social Media Customer Service Award at 2nd Annual Social Media Camp, Victoria. (Best Social Media Customer Service Award, n.d.)
Every restaurant uses various advertising and marketing strategies from time to time to stay in the business. Cactus Club Café, being a fine dining restaurant, is famous for its happy hour menu which starts every day from 3pm to 6pm and from 9pm until it closes. During happy hour, there are various drinks and food items which are offered at subsidized prices which attracts a heavy audience. (Happy Hour and Eats, n.d.) They also introduce various other promotional offers as well. Their latest offer, which is ½ price wine, is valid on Tuesdays and on Wednesdays as well only in some locations. Speaking of advertising, Cactus Club Café is already well known in its segment. But they usually advertise using the billboards, transit advertising, point of sale displays. There are also advertisements on various websites like website pop-ups, side banners, etc. They even send subscription emails to people now and then for those who sign up for the Cactus Dish Newsletter. Last but not least, they even sell gift cards in the form of physical gift cards or electronic gift cards which allows customers to get cash back on every purchase. (Gift Cards, n.d.)
In addition to the food, we also evaluated the restaurant in terms of:
- Atmosphere and Décor
- Sustainability Concerns etc.
The atmosphere is very vibrant and cozy which is ideal for regular dining or even special occasions. However, the restaurant is usually crowded and a bit too noisy to carry out a business session. In terms of décor, it has a dining area, a patio, a bar to enjoy the occasion with perfect lighting and seating arrangement which compliments the ambiance of the restaurant. They also play music as it is a way to keep guests entertained while they wait for their food. It adds delight to the whole dining experience.
As soon as we entered the restaurant, the hosts welcomed us warmly at the front of the house, asked about the number of Pax or any reservations and then guided us to the table to be seated. The staff was very professional, considerate, well-mannered and was consistently putting efforts to make us feel comfortable by initiating conversations now and then. Even the manager came up to our table frequently and asked us about our experience and how the food tasted. They provided us with the best and efficient service. The waitress was very knowledgeable about the dishes, beverages and their ingredients. However, we had to wait quite a long time to get our food served but our server kept us engaged in the conversation. She also happened to be from the same school, Douglas College. Speaking of cleanliness, the restaurant was well maintained according to the hygienic standards. As soon as the other guests left, the table got cleared, cleaned properly with disinfectants by a busser and the table was ready to be seated for the next guest.
Cactus Club Café while being one of the best restaurants in its segment is very concerned about the environment and society related issues. We got to know about this when asked for straws and they offered us totally plant-based straws. They told us; they have joined hands with many organizations aiming at environmental sustainability. There are many people who are concerned about the environment and willing to pay more to the restaurants who are working to care for the environment. The organizations are mentioned below:
- Ocean Wise: It is an exceptionally acclaimed fish preservation program led by the Vancouver Aquarium. This program makes it simple for customers to pick long-term seafood aiming at the well-being of the seas.
- Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef: It is a network given to fuel supportability in the Canadian beef industry. Cactus Club’s menu has included Certified Angus Beef from Canadian farmers for a long time and they joined the CRSB to back up their duty to ecological, social and financial maintainability in the Canadian beef industry.
- Raised by a Canadian Farmer: The program is a severe, obligatory and auditable Animal Care Program that guarantees high animal consideration principles are being maintained on Canadian chicken farms across Canada. Cactus Club gladly supports Canadian ranchers and purchases 100% Canadian chicken.
- Biodegradable Products Institute: Cactus Club made a guarantee to lessen the straw utilization. They have expelled straws from most of beverages on the menu and are glad to provide 100% plant-based straws that are affirmed by the Biodegradable Products Institute. These straws are served distinctly with drinks that totally require a straw, or upon visitor demand.
- National Farm Animal Care Council: It also joined hands with this Canadian association which unites animal welfare associations, implementation, administration and ranchers under a joint committee for promoting livestock welfare.
- The Green Table Network: It is a protection scheme that depends on a lot of working norms and focuses on that characterizes a “green restaurant.” It has five essential zones, for example, solid waste, water preservation, power preservation, contamination avoidance and buying. By buying produce from neighborhood providers, executing reusing and fertilizing the soil projects and performing straightforward energy preservation ways, the Cactus Club is focused on having a beneficial outcome in the networks in which they work. (Responsible Sourcing, n.d.)
Talking about donations, they also do charity for various organizations like Make-A-Wish Foundation, Sarah’s School of Music, Templeton High School etc. (Our Commitment, n.d.)
Overall, we were pleased with our experience while dining at the Cactus Club. The whole experience was mesmerizing and we gained a lot of knowledge about the restaurant. The best part is that they still believe in guest satisfaction and they kept that as their priority as well. They made us feel welcome and quite comfortable and the food was so amazing that we would definitely come back again and recommend other people to enjoy their valuable time here at the Cactus Club Cafe, Delta.
About. (n.d.). Retrieved from dineoutvancouver: https://www.dineoutvancouver.com/about/dine-out/
Awards. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/category/awards/
Best Social Media Customer Service Award. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/2011/06/best-social-media-customer-service-award/
Contact Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/contact-us/
Gift Cards. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/gift-cards/
Happy Hour and Eats. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/menus/delta/happy-hour/
Our Commitment. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/our-story/charities-and-events/donations/
Our Story. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/our-story/
Responsible Sourcing. (n.d.). Retrieved from cactusclubcafe: https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/our-story/responsible-sourcing/