Bank Street’s Tamis Café – with its high ceilings and warm, exposed brick walls – has an inviting atmosphere.
Having just opened the new location at 374 Bank Street, they are saving their grand opening and new menu for the spring. Seeing as January has been their slow period traditionally it makes sense to wait.
Three years ago, the café opened its doors in the Glebe on Fourth Avenue. The family-run business is led by Jessica Sare and her business partner, her mother.
In a family run business having the support of family has been a net benefit to Tamis Café. With Sare’s sister working at the café, her father makes time to help outside of a regular job.
“As a family business the family affair is here,” explains Sare. “So learning together as a team, not just a family.”
One of the challenges Sare shares with other businesses is hiring new employees. Now that they have expanded and moved to a new location, they needed more staff. With a larger staff comes natural new challenges. There have been no-shows for shifts, missing a staff member can lead to a disruption of service, to more severe incident of theft. The aim for Sare is to find loyal employees.
When asked what her advice to other entrepreneurs she was quick to respond, “never give up, even if you see things going downhill, do lots of research and don’t give up.” Doing you research gives you the confidence to make the correct decisions for your business.
Its clear that Sare does her research, launching a new location in the winter, she’s waiting for the spring for the grand opening of the new location. By waiting until traffic naturally picks up in the nicer weather, the Tamis Café’s new menu is likely to bring more traffic through the doors.
But in the meantime, she explains that traffic has been good at the new location. Their new location is directly on Bank Street in the heart of Centretown, with their previous location on Fourth Street, just off the main strip, the amount of foot traffic will certainly increase.
Since moving to their new location Sare divulged that there has been no marketing budget, its been all via social media. With so many food bloggers in Ottawa, Sare has the Café’s social handles on display as customers come through the door. Word of mouth, digital and traditional has kept customers coming through the doors.
“We are the only Filipino café in Centretown,” says Sare. Its just further evidence that they have done their research. Filling a niche in the market allows them to stand out in a competitive restaurant market. But its all for nothing if you don’t have a quality and authentic product, a non-issue at Tamis Café.
The Tamis Café has been used to host events by the Embassy of the Philippines. With her family having roots in the food industry, this was validating. The Embassy was contacted about the restaurant and had this to say:
“The Embassy of the Philippines is proud of the contribution of Tamis Café, in placing Filipino food in the culinary landscape of Ottawa. It showcases the delicious traditional Filipino food that the rapidly growing diaspora longs for.”
At the same, it also incorporates the tastes and flavors of Canada in several of its dishes, delightfully executed by Mr. Josulito and Mrs. Elizabeth Sare, and their highly talented daughters, Jessica Alexis and Jiselle Ann Sare, who are young, Canadian trained chefs.
Indeed, it is the perfect metaphor of the people to people relations between the Philippines and Canada.
The Embassy has on more than one occasion rented out the entire café to host dignitaries. In fact the embassy has itself has an article on its website which essentially reads a glowing review of the restaurant.
Warburton is a local food blogger who posts on the Ottawa Foodie forum. It may have been a year and half since his last visit, but in his own words is still dreaming about multiple menu items.
“I’ll watch for the new menu with curiosity and decide then if I want to go and try it,” Warburton said in an email. “What I can say for sure is that Tamis Café is currently my go-to recommendation for Filipino cuisine in Ottawa. It’s a local business run by a charming family and I still dream about their ube and dulce de leche layer cake.”