A woman stands outside a cafe in Victoria, BC.

In Conversation with Hayley // Nourish Kitchen & Café

Name: Hayley Rosenberg
Shop: Nourish Kitchen & Café
Address: 225 Quebec Street, Victoria, BC
Instagram: @nourishvictoria

A sign outside a cafe in Victoria, BC.
The sign outside the café’s 1888 heritage house in James Bay.

What is Nourish Kitchen & Café?

Nourish Kitchen is a healthy-food purpose-driven company on a mission to support a food system that honours the wisdom offered in the cycles of the seasons and showcases holistic food philosophies and techniques. Our two-level home offers a casual restaurant & cafe, a culinary market dedicated to providing your home with healthy yumminess, and communal space for community creativity + education focused on enriching our culture through a shared respect for the natural world.

Can you tell us about your background? Did you have any restaurant experience before opening Nourish? 

Food has always been an expression of love in my life. My grandmother taught me that food is a gift for the body, heart, and spirit.
I began working in restaurant service in my teens and went to holistic nutrition school in my twenties, and all the while cooking was a time to express my creativity and beliefs. I didn’t cook for work until cooking turned into my work organically — and that was the beginning of Nourish.

Some food for sale at a cafe in Victoria, BC.
Food and wares for sale as you enter the house.

Have you always wanted to run your own business? How long did it take you to make your business a reality?

I think about this often. I never envisioned owning a company, but I can look back and see that I always put my best into the jobs that I was doing — I owned my responsibility. That, coupled with my overly creative mind and a curiosity for opportunity, made the perfect storm for this all to come to life. Nourish grew quickly and organically, all from cooking healthy meals for friends — and then word of mouth brought me clients.

Some food for sale at a cafe in Victoria, BC.
House-made jarred and dry goods for sale at the café.

Tell us a little about your business’s name. Why did you choose the name Nourish?

I chose the name Nourish because that was the feeling I always received being in the presence of my bubby (grandma). It was the feeling I set out to share through the experience and food we create.

If you had to describe your business to someone who hasn’t seen it, how would you describe it?

I often describe Nourish as a magical place with delicious food!

The coffee bar at a cafe in Victoria, BC.
Behind the coffee bar.

You’ve created such a beautiful space — we love everything about Nourish Kitchen & Café. Can you tell us a bit about your personal style and aesthetic?

That is so kind … and a huge compliment! I love curating space and I try to bring in elements for all senses. I set out to intertwine the interior essence of the rooms with the whimsy and vibe of the outdoor world. Nature is my muse and its beauty brings great joy and peaceful energy to my heart. I try to communicate those feelings through the way I design, the dishes we make, the interactions we have with our guests, and all the details we curate.

The dining room of a cafe in Victoria, BC.
The dining room is bathed in light.

What or who inspires you?

Mother Nature, my team, my husband, my boss babe friends, and all the people putting their heart into making this world a more loving place.

Over the years you’ve introduced a number of new things to Nourish, such as gifts, meal prep, grocery, and classes. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What guides you in your choices?

Nourish is, at its very core, a creative expression and celebration of the cycles of the seasons and the edible bounty produced.  I never set out to create a restaurant — it was simply the manifestation of what I knew and the way I could contribute my beliefs. There are so many more dreams I have for the company and more ways in which I wish to support our community in being well-fed with foods that in turn nourish our worlds.

A woman stands inside a cafe in Victoria, BC.
Hayley in the dining room in front of the cheerful leaf-print wallpaper.

How has online impacted your business? Can you tell us a little about that?

We’ve been online for some time with varying levels of ability to produce offerings. The restaurant is such a dynamic and demanding part of the operations that it is actually kind of fun to have more time to think about how we can bring little bits of Nourish and the philosophies that brought it to life into our community’s homes.

A dining room table at a cafe in Victoria, BC.
The most beautiful details right down to the table settings.

What are some of the hardest lessons you’ve had starting your business? How have you overcome them?

The hardest lesson to overcome is the fear and self-doubt that gets stirred when making mistakes, or even sometimes when going after what you want. You just gotta name that mistake, name that fear, name that lesson, dust that shit off, make yourself a green juice (because you’re worthy of thriving!) and get going on accomplishing that dream with youthful softness and loving kindness. I am getting wayyyy better at this with the help of a wonderful therapist, supportive group of friends, and allowing time for myself.

Some food for sale at a cafe in Victoria, BC.
Everything you need to make a delicious Nourish breakfast at home, including the apron!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to open up a restaurant today?

Be kind to yourself and keep your heart focused on what you are wanting to offer — keep the product offerings simple and aligned. Limit your investment and allow the flow of growth and what the customers want to lead the way to development. Acknowledge that what you are about to embark on is both an art and a science; be clear about which side fuels you the most and find the support network for the other needs.

Have you made any hard decisions to get you through this difficult time? 

I think the word I would use rather than “hard” is serious. I feel like 2020 was a year of monumental impact and I am trying to make judgments and decisions that are panned out in scope and razor-focused on what I wish to see for the health and wellness of my team, the contributions and vitality of the business, and alignment with my heart’s calling. 

The counter at a cafe in Victoria, BC.
Gorgeous bar in a private dining room on the second level of the house.

As we navigate our new reality, what advice would you give to your fellow business owners on what keeps you moving forward?  

See the beauty that this time is offering us and the wisdom it is leading us to embrace. That will mean something different for each person, but on a collective whole, some questions that may help shape a more balanced future may just look like: How can I bring more a more centred stillness into my daily living? How can I offer a deeper connection to my customers’ lives through my products/services? What can I strip away from my offerings/space/habits to live with more joyful simplicity? What is the good that has come from this time that I want to carry along with me into the future?

Pickled vegetables at a cafe in Victoria, BC.
Assorted house-made pickles in the fridge.

Anything else you would like to say?

We are so so so lucky to live where we do with the community we have. I am so thankful to be a part of it!

The outside of a cafe in Victoria, BC.
Contactless pickup window for coffee and online orders from the kitchen.