Kasia Cison went with her gut when she made two life-changing decisions: to move to Barriere and to open The Blue Moon Galeria and Cafe.
The move came about after Cison and her husband were driving to Kamloops last year to explore their options of where they could live and stumbled upon the North Thompson town.
“Barriere was accidental. We just went by and we both had the decision that we were going to stay here,” she said. “It was an emotional choice, I would say.”
When she first walked by the then-vacant location on Barriere Town Road, Cison spontaneously decided to try opening a restaurant.
Cison said she enjoys serving food and chatting with people, so she hoped her approach to hospitality would create a warm and welcoming space for customers.
“I want to treat them like they are home, I never change anything from how I would treat my best friend or family. And [they] come back because people can feel that,” she said.
The cafe, opened on June 4, offers waffles topped with local jams and fruit, homemade pierogi, cake and iced or hot coffee. It has a dynamic interior, including paintings by local artists. The cafe has a piano, a guitar and accordions for people to play music, sing and dance.
Opening hours are currently 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, but Cison is considering adjusting the hours as she hears more opinions on when people would like to come.
“I want to fit in community needs,” she said. “There are different opinions … maybe it is going to be open Fridays twice a month 6 to 9 p.m. for some workshops or music jams.”
Cison has been getting up at 6 a.m. to make up to 100 pierogi each morning before the cafe is open. Currently, she runs the whole cafe herself with the help of a friend who keeps an eye on things when Cison goes to the farmer’s market.
One of her favorite things about Barriere is the local produce and goods. Her waffles use local jams, and she likes to get produce from the farmer’s market.
Cison said she is grateful the local chamber of commerce helped her set up shop, because she has never run a business before. She has worked a variety of jobs throughout the recent decades including dish-washing, cleaning, farming, catering and care-taking, but completing restaurant paperwork is new.
But it’s worth it to Cison, who had worked two jobs in Vancouver as a caterer and caretaker, and came to Barriere to slow life down. She also worried the high cost of living in Vancouver would keep her sons from enjoying the good things in life.
“There was no family life and there was lots of stress, so we wanted to try to find a better place.”
The entire family – she has three sons aged 36, 34, and 16 – have moved to Barriere with them. Her oldest son has two children aged six and three, and is expecting another child in roughly three weeks.
When she first told them about her plans to open the restaurant, they did not believe it could work, she said. The good energy of everyone involved convinced her family to change their minds, and they began helping her run the business.
People in the community have also been supportive. Some bring her ideas or recipes to try. One group of customers brought her some decorations from the thrift store that fit right in with the cafe’s overall look.
“There was all positive feedback, all positive reactions. I would say there is a positive and nice story every day. Every day is a miracle.”