Remember life before the Internet? Long afternoons loitering outdoors, indoors, and over extended meals, when it felt like there was just more time available. Three siblings from South Africa were looking to re-create that feeling when they opened Nelson the Seagull, in Gastown, Vancouver. “We wanted to make a space where every meal feels like a lazy summer day spent with friends, leisurely snacking on simple but delicious food,” owner Jodie Balfour says.
Jodie and his brother and sister, Jonathan and Lee, serve up organic food, freshly baked bread, and coffee. Their coffee credo is, “No destroyed decaf coffee,” and their name references Dawn & Des Lindbergh’s 1971 cover of Peter E. Bennett’s song “The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson,” written during Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison and a reminder of their home country. Another reason to take time out of your day? Instructor Ally Mazerolle teaches yoga at Nelson on Monday and Wednesday evenings followed by an organic meal, all for CA $25 (approximately $23).
Above: South African flora on display in eclectic glass vases: leaves pulled from banksia plants and pincushion protea. Photograph by Natsumi of Sokokashiko.
Above: Nelson the Seagull’s ornithological theme carries over onto the coffee cups. Photograph by Natsumi of Sokokashiko.
Above: Behind the counter, a wall featuring Nelson Mandela as a young boxer. Photograph by Mia Hansen.
Above: Natural light is supplemented by amber pendant lights. Photograph by Mia Hansen.
Above: Dried thistle branches. Photograph via Smoky Sweet.
Above: The cafe is, in the Balfours’ words, “about sun-stained afternoons and the best espresso we can pull.” Photograph via Singularis.
Above: Lounge sofas and a rough palette table on wheels. Photograph by Vincent Lee for designer Zoí« Pawlak.