The Victoria Real Estate Board recently elected its directors for 2014. They are Mike Nugent (back row

The Victoria Real Estate Board recently elected its directors for 2014. They are Mike Nugent (back row

BUSINESS BEAT: Plenty of love behind Blanshard organic cafe

Owners of Bliss Café set up new shop on Blanshard Street

Brother and sister Heather and Joe Cunliffe, operators of popular Pandora Avenue live food juice bar Café Bliss, have expanded their offerings in a new location.

Be Love has taken over half of a beautifully renovated space at 1019 Blanshard St. that formerly housed Alpine Market. The cozy new café offers a wide variety of organic appies, main dishes and desserts in a comfortable environment. Visit beloverestaurant.ca.

Microsoft gaming studio pulling up stakes

Less than two years after setting up shop in Victoria, Microsoft announced it is closing its gaming studio here in 2014.

Siting the office here – it opened in Bastion Square and moved to a larger space at Wharf and Fort streets as staff was added and game development ramped up – could be traced to Don Mattrick, the EA Sports co-founder who became head of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment division and lives part-time in the city. Mattrick left Microsoft and became CEO of mobile game producer Zynga in July.

While a number of Victoria employees are expected to be transferred to a studio in Vancouver and some to Washington state, at least two dozen staffers will be forced to look for new employment.

In a statement, Microsoft said it still views Victoria as a source of top talent for the industry and will actively help staff who face layoffs to find jobs in other companies. It also expects to “build upon our relationship with the University of Victoria as we seek to fill our future talent needs.”

The closure is expected to be finalized by next spring or summer.

Royal Oak McDonald’s receives a facelift

On Sunday, franchisee Grant Reid unveiled some serious upgrades to his McDonald’s Restaurant in the Royal Oak Shopping Centre. The renovations include new flat-screen televisions, leather chairs, modern lighting, contemporary artwork and updated washrooms, plus a redesigned barista bar for coffee and smoothie fans. The restaurant is at 4410 West Saanich Rd.

Who’s making waves on the business scene

Sports tourism booster SportHost Victoria named Harbour Digital Media owner John Juricic to replace Andrea Carey as chair of its board of directors. Juricic is a past-president of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce … The City of Colwood has a new chief administrative officer. James Moller, rounding out a stint as city manager for Humboldt, Sask., starts in February and replaces Chris Pease, who came back in an interim role during the search.

Send your business news to ddescoteau@vicnews.com.

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