Oz Balpinar opened her restaurant, Oz Kafe, 12 years ago. She saw a void in the city’s food scene: no one was offering fine dining late at night. The restaurant offers quality food at a reasonable price for late-night diners. “Normally people would go out for dinner and they were home by 10:30,” says Balpinar. “Now it’s dinner and a late night. It’s a given. I think it’s great to have those options, it’s important to the cultural fabric of a city.” Shortly after opening, she and her former chef, the Gold Medal Plates-winning Jamie Stunt, introduced diners to Chef Appreciation Night. Each month Balpinar plays host to a different local chef and their team, who prepare a four-course meal for a reasonable price. These types of events have helped cultivate Ottawa’s restaurant scene. Ask any chef, service industry worker or foodie in town about Balpinar. They love her and her restaurant.
Balpinar’s favourite destination: Vintage & Bridal
Ottawa has no shortage of cute, unique shops around the downtown area. So what makes Vintage & Bridal special? The name pretty much sums it up. “There is never clothing or accessories that are just mediocre or not in great condition,” says Balpinar. Owned by Jaime Garner, the shop combines quality women’s and men’s vintage apparel with beautiful, affordable bridal accessories and gowns. “We welcome and cater to a wide scope of customers,” says Garner, who hopes her store appeals to a varied demographic. “We strive to have something for every style, every age and every shape and we treat everyone as though they are our dear friends.” Opened in January 2014, the shop added bridal gowns a year later in the spring of 2015. Garner has no shortage of love for Ottawa. “We feel very connected to our city and our community,” she says. “And we care enough to want to make our corner of it just a little bit brighter.”