Salmon Arm couple share passion for plant-based food at new bistro

Tyson Still and Theresa Payton open Stillfood Bistro and Cappuccino Bar

Tyson Still and Theresa Payton are passionate about plant-based foods, and they look forward to sharing their culinary creations, accompanied by friendly conversation, at their newly opened Stillfood Bistro and Cappuccino Bar.

The couple opened the doors of their new business at 371 Alexander St. (formerly the Dolce Bistro and Cappuccino Bar) on Wednesday, Jan 12, and were both impressed by the welcome they received.

“The community is so accepting of new businesses opening up and it’s so welcoming…,” said Still.

Payton and Still, who grew up as neighbours in Vanderhoof and later reconnected, said they searched from Penticton to Salmon Arm for a place to start their first business together. They were ultimately drawn to Salmon Arm, where they had friends and where Still said his family used to take him camping.

“We just wanted a change of scenery, something more like a homey welcoming vibe, and that’s what we got here in Salmon Arm,” said Still.

In addition to running the bistro, Payton also works at Valley First credit union in Penticton. Still is a self-trained chef who inherited his love for cooking from his grandmother and mother.

“I’m a hand’s on learner… I watched lots of videos and read books on my own time,” said Still. “This is where I just found my peace in life…, this is where I find my happiness, in the kitchen serving people.”

Still said he was working as a chef at a heli-ski resort in Terrace when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. When the resort closed, he took up work as an executive chef for crews constructing the Trans-Mountain Pipeline. Though the hours were long, Still was driven by the goal of buying a cafe to run as a family business.

Still and Payton put in an offer on the downtown Salmon Arm location in October 2021, and took possession on Dec. 25. Still said he finished with his prior job on Dec. 1, giving him time to think about his plans for the new business. Dec. 1 was also when it was announced the first case of the Omicron variant of the virus had been detected in B.C.

“It was a lot of time to think and see how we’re going to do this and that’s when everything started changing again,” said Still. “Theresa said to me, ‘Are you scared?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t want to think about it. I’m going to do it. This is what I’m meant do do.”

“I think this was the only time I’m analytical and he was emotional. Usually we’re the other way around,” laughed Payton.

The two renovated the former bistro, with the intention of one day providing table service. In the meantime, Stillfood offers a variety of edible offerings for take-out, from salad and curry bowls, to wraps and baking – all done in house and all vegan/plant based.

“Coming from eating a lot of heavy protein meals myself to being vegan for four years now, I can make a plant-based steak that no one would know was vegan,” said Still. “It was quite the change for myself and I love introducing people to what can be made from plants.”

Payton and Still said that morning (Thursday, Jan. 13), a customer came in and asked for eggs and bacon. After some explaining about their menu, Still said the customer tried a plant-based breakfast sandwich, a salad and a latte.

“He sat down and ate it and he goes, ‘This is actually better, this is better food than the normal thing…,’” said Still. “‘None of this stuff has any dairy in the cheese, and this egg isn’t from a chicken?’ I’m like, ‘No, this is all plant-based food.’ He said, ‘This is amazing. I think I want to make a change here.’”

Payton and Still noted that’s the fun part of their business’ name. In addition to being Tyson’s family name, it’s also a fun way of letting the public know that what they serve is “still food.”

“Lots of people hear vegetarian or vegan and they think, ‘Oh, you’re going to have grass clippings,’” laughed Payton.

More information about Stillfood Bistro & Cappuccino Bar can be found on Facebook.

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lachlan@saobserver.net
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