Nicole Ingram

Nicole Ingram

BUSINESS BEAT: Cheese shop staffers delve into flowers

Thorn and Thistle opened doors in mid-July on Foul Bay Road

Alexandra Powell and Nicole Ingram are both Libras.

As such, they tend to be agreeable and helped convince each other that opening a flower shop together was a good idea.

Powell, 29, and Ingram, 28, opened Thorn and Thistle in mid-July in the space vacated by Old Fashioned Flowers on Foul Bay Road, next door to Chiarelli’s Cheese Shop and Delicatessen.

While they own and operate the thriving little business, Powell and Ingram still both work in the deli and occasionally help out in the sandwich shop opened by Chiarelli’s in the opposite space in January and managed by Anna Hunt. Taken together, the old building resembles a rabbit warren, with access points to all three spaces running behind the shop areas.

“I don’t know how we’re going to do this at Christmas – both sides are going to be crazy,” Powell says of the staffing situation.

The florists specialize in fresh-cut local flowers and hand-tied bouquets, available for people off the street or commercial customers for weekly bouquets. They also have a collection of antique containers and memorabilia that can be used as props with flowers to brighten up special events.

“We encourage people to bring in their own vases,” Ingram says.

Opening in mid-summer would seem too late to catch some bridal business, but Ingram says they already have two weddings booked for the fall.

Carmen Lasooji, Ingram’s mother and owner/operator of Chiarelli’s – a Foul Bay icon for the past 10 years – jokes she now needs more part-time help to replace the hours the flower shop takes from her staffers.

Lasooji also manages the building and has big plans for the three spaces. The vision she hopes will come to fruition in 18 months or so to knock out the walls separating the three shops and create a large retail store encompassing all three facets of the business.

– Thorn and Thistle, open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 2857 Foul Bay Rd., 250-384-3385, thornandthistle.ca

Popular Thai restaurant celebrates first birthday

George Molnar assembled a talented crew of chefs – including his wife, Nadtaya (Tiu for short) – for his Thai Lemongrass restaurant when they opened in Cadboro Bay one year ago. The staff have between eight and 18 years’ experience, led by Bason Joodbrasong, who worked for years in Bangkok, and Kachen Pangkanant. Molnar says people from the neighbourhood volunteered to get the space ready at 3838 Cadboro Bay Rd. He adds those friends have stuck with them and have been repaid through the restaurant serving consistent food. “Plus our chefs are not afraid to try different recipes. That’s what makes it unique,” says Molnar, whose eatery employs 20 people full- and part-time. Visit thailemongrass.com.

Houle Electric’s work recognized in Vancouver

Three Greater Victoria projects have received the Silver Award of Excellence from the Vancouver Regional Construction Association. Two of the projects: the Saanich Peninsula Hospital electrical upgrade and CFB Esquimalt’s new base fire hall and emergency response centre, were handled by Saanichton’s Houle Electric and won in the category of electrical contractor project up to $2 million. The other award, for mechanical contracting over $3 million, was for CFB Esquimalt’s fleet maintenance unit Cape Breton combined services, Phase IV, completed by Edmonton-based Lockerbie and Hole Contracting.

Send your business news items to ddescoteau@vicnews.com.