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New ownership signals return for Yumbrosia in Oak Bay

Esquimalt local awaits business licence before reopening
Yumbrosia Fine Foods, pictured from the back of the store in July 2021, had been run by Ihsan Askar from 2011 until his sudden death last December. (Black Press Media file photo)

Those strolling around north Oak Bay might notice some familiar movement at 2405 Eastdowne Rd. and the white logoed Yumbrosia Fine Foods van parked across the street.

But this time, it’s not the late Ihsan Askar tending to his beloved local business.

New management has come to revive Yumbrosia, which Askar had run since 2011 before dying unexpectedly last December. Besides operating as a European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern grocer and deli, the store has served the community through various means for roughly 110 years, including as a convenience store and ice cream shop.

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Until now, Yumbrosia kept quietly shut and it remained unclear what would happen to the shop following Askar’s death.

Askar, originally from Turkey, told Black Press Media last summer he had come to Canada alone and left his ex-wife and kids in Austria, where he had lived for more than 20 years and worked as a food quality inspector in Bregenz. At 56, he also wasn’t expecting to disappear any time soon and hadn’t decided who exactly, if not one of his three young employees, would assume the business after him.

Now, passersby can observe several new staff chatting happily inside while stocking products and rearranging the shop as fresh air flows in through a wide-open front door and shelves impede the entrance. None of the signage posted along the glass front has changed since Askar’s death, except for a white sheet of paper posted to the right of the door that reads, “We will be opening shortly.”

Esquimalt resident Saravanan Periyasamy, known better as “Sammy,” awaits his business licence so he can reopen Yumbrosia. He said he needs to hire more staff and had some trouble with Google, as it had listed Yumbrosia inaccurately as permanently closed, but the shop could be operating again as soon as a week or two from now.

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Periyasamy, who didn’t know Askar personally but wishes to continue catering to the needs of the community, noted he plans to operate the business just like Askar had – using the same name and selling the same product.

With the business set to reopen, it seems Askar’s legacy of serving Oak Bay residents will only continue to be preserved by his successors and customers alike.


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