While many might have heard of Dunwood Place, a senior citizens' housing complex, few have yet discovered the wee café that runs out of the same building.
Lisa Girardi, who bought Annie Hill café (901 Colborne St.) from the previous owner in March 2022, said that when it comes to "outside" traffic (referring to people who are not from the housing complex), the numbers are quite scanty.
The café, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., doesn't have a website yet, and Girardi has only recently started publicizing the spot on social media.
"I posted for about a month and a half on 'Small Business Fridays' on the New Westies are the Besties Facebook group and got maybe one (person) a week," said Girardi, who points out that a lack of parking around the place — given the parking around the building is for Dunwood residents only — might also be keeping away customers.
Given the low-key marketing and the parking space crunch, the little soup and sandwich kiosk has so far remained a well-kept secret.
But now, it's ready to shout out its presence.
What's on the menu?
Girardi recently launched a Facebook page for the business — with posts of the eatery’s menu and items made in-house.
She wants more people to know about the café, which besides offering an elaborate menu, also holds a slice of New West's past.
As history goes, the seniors' complex was built on the land that housed the estate of New West pioneer and engineer Arthur Hill back in the late 1800s.
In 1974, the estate was demolished, and in its place, the Dunwood seniors' residential tower was built by the Presbyterian Seniors Society to whom Hill’s daughter Annie Hill had bequeathed the family estate (hence the name).
Annie Hill café offers an all-day breakfast menu that includes bacon and eggs, omelettes, egg muffins, breakfast sandwiches, egg salads, sockeye salmon, white albacore tuna, roasted chicken breast, BLTs, Denvers and more — with the big sellers being soups, organic coffee and baked goods.
Girardi whips up a different baked good every day of the week — "On Mondays, I do a cheesecake. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, I do cinnamon buns. Scones are usually done with a seafood chowder or soup or a stew," she said.
"I also offer a diabetic muffin made with monk sugar which sells out daily."
Girardi's "partner in crime" Diana Stuart, meanwhile, brings out her Russian Ukrainian and Latvian knowledge in food with a "fabulous" borscht soup and a Shchi soup — a "medicinal" soup made with sauerkraut, pork and bay leaves.
On Friday nights, Girardi does hamburger barbecues outside the café, and during festivals, she spruces up the place to host themed dinners.
With the café, Girardi, who has worked in the restaurant industry “all her life” and is experienced in providing personal care and cooking for senior citizens, is finally living her dream.
"I've always wanted to own a little café. I didn't want a big restaurant… just a tiny coffee shop," said Girardi.
Annie Hill café, with a 26-seat capacity inside and a limited space outside, is just about the right size.