Even slightly overcast and nowhere near a mealtime, conversation and patio traffic bustles at the corner of Monterey and Oak Bay avenues.
Inside Ottavio Italian Bakery and Delicatessen patrons snug up at tables on one end, popping in for bread, cheese and imported delicacies at the other.
Andrew Moyer and Monica Pozzolo are famed for their traditional parties of food, music and fun that spills out into the street. So when suddenly 20 years passed in Oak Bay, they figured there was no better way to celebrate with the customers.
The Ottavio Italian Bakery and Deli began in 1997 in a much smaller space up The Avenue. Moyer remembers moving into the former hair salon and diluting down the years of hairspray that held the light fixtures to the wall.
Moyer, Pozzolo and her mom slaved to create the next niche in a family tradition. Building on the foundation of the Italian Bakery (Quadra at Tolmie) the couple created a small bustling shop that included quality imports in the early days of specialty shops.
In addition to the traditional baked goods, they honed the skill of offering quality products from small producers.
“We built this with our customers, side by side,” Moyer said.
People are as key as the product. They’ve hired former customers – some they watched grow up – and served generations of local families.
“We’re many generations into this,” Moyer said. “It’s a real treat to be able to serve some octogenarian, and then they’re great grandchildren come in later with their children.”
Local for the couple, expands as far as Sooke and the Lower Mainland.
Helen and Dave Ranson – working a word puzzle with coffee on this mid-morning visit – are among the devoted clientele visiting the eatery at minimum twice a week.
“It’s the ambience of sitting down, relaxing and enjoying my puzzle or just watching people,” Dave said. After doing the math, they’re confident they’re at least 1,000 visits in, taking into account vacations away. They often come together or with friends, though Helen says it’s perfectly comfortable eating solo there as well.
“We’ve made friends here,” said Helen.
“You get chatting and next thing you know you’re going out for dinner,” Dave added.
And oh the parties. Both fully plan to attend the 20th anniversary bash planned for Sept. 23 featuring good food and fast cars.
It’s a party to celebrate and thank customers for the first 20 years of business in Oak Bay. Plans include cracking open a big wheel of cheese, live entertainment, hot cars, a giant cake and of course the home-made gelato.
Vessel will be there sampling Italian wines and Farm & Field Butchers will roast lamb – porchetta style.
The celebration is Sept. 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Ottavio, at the intersection of Monterey and Oak Bay avenues.