The first time I was a guest North Vancouver’s 16 WEST Restaurant was in August 2022, two months after they opened and I loved it! I had a four course meal with wonderful wine pairings.
I recently had the opportunity to interview 16 WEST’s owner and gracious host, Brooke Naito-Campbell.
M: You opened the doors to 16 WEST in the summer of 2022. What has the first year been like (almost the first year)?
B: 16 WEST opened on June 24, 2022 and the first year has been great. A gradual organic growth through word of mouth. Not as busy as we had hoped, but guests from Hachiro would come in so happy and excited saying, “I’m so glad you’re still here!” They weren’t sure what happened to us and they were worried we were gone.
Hachiro Ramen Transformed into 16 WEST
M: I did not get a chance to visit your previous restaurant, Hachiro Ramen. Besides the cuisine, what has been the main difference in running the two different restaurants?
B: Definitely more experienced servers with wine knowledge. We have a wine director and sommelier, Brendan Jones on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays who has curated a wine list for us, mainly local BC wines, but we are looking into curating international wines because our guests have been asking.
M: Was Hachiro the first North Vancouver restaurant you and your brother, Stephen opened?
B: Yes, Stephen went to Japan and studied how to make ramen before opening Hachiro. We opened 6 months before COVID hit. It was really hard. But I wanted to fight for our restaurant!
Hachiro had become a take-out restaurant. I wanted to change the menu into more of an izakaya and serve appies and cocktails, but a lot of the guests that came in just wanted a bowl of ramen.
“I am passionate about 16 WEST!”
M: How did 16 WEST come to be? Was it your idea or was it someone else’s?
B: I had a beautiful restaurant and it made me sad to leave it. So my friends, some employees that were there and I thought, what do we need in North Vancouver? What are we passionate about? What would feed the community?
We first thought of a Spanish tapas but then we thought a menu that’s not tied to one kind of food. We could serve French, Italian and Spanish. I love a wine bar and I am passionate about 16 WEST and so is my team.
M: What was your inspiration for the menu? Did you work together with your head chef or did you leave it to them?
B: Our menu is a collaboration between me and Jorge Camacho. He is from Dublin’s La Maison. French Bistro. We work really well together. Our coffee cake, biscuits and all our desserts are made by his best friend, Andrea Lopez.
M: What is your favourite dish? (lunch, brunch, dinner)?
B: My favourite for lunch is the meatball sub. It is really good. One of my favourites for brunch is the steak hash, and for dinner the mushroom risotto with seared Hokkaido scallops (they will be on the menu shortly) and the mussels.
M: 16 WEST is now open for brunch on the weekends and lunch on weekdays. What is the busiest time? Are there certain times/days we should make a reservation?
B: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday nights and brunch on the weekends are the busiest times. We always have the bar open for walk-ins and we will be opening the patio soon for the warmer weather and walk-ins. Our patio is also dog-friendly.
Central Lonsdale Community
M: What is the best part of being located in Central Lonsdale?
B: Central Lonsdale needed a cool, hip restaurant. A hidden gem. It needed love. Lower Lonsdale has all the restaurants. Central Lonsdale is getting developed. 16 WEST is one of the few restaurants with a watering hole.
M: Being located in the heart of North Vancouver, in Central Lonsdale, do you feel a sense of community?
B: Yes, I feel the sense of community with our guests. We have some who have stayed with us since Hachiro and have become friends. One such guest, Susan brought a friend who asked me if I have ever thought of hosting a drag show. And I had! Thus our drag show brunches was born!
North Vancouver Roots
M: I read that you grew up in North Vancouver. What area? Where did you go to school?
B: I grew up in Pemberton Heights. I went to Capilano Elementary from Kindergarten to grade 7 and then high school in Arizona where my mom is from.
M: Did you always know that you would own a business? What did you want to be when you grew up?
B: No, I had no idea. Hahaha…what did I want to be when I grew up? As a kid I wanted to do the usual singing, dancing and as a teen I wanted to be a cosmetologist. I was a hair stylist for a long time before opening the restaurants.
After my daughter was born, I turned to food and hospitality because it was something I was around all my life and am passionate about. My dad was the Executive VP of Okabe Company that used to own Coast Hotels.
And now, my daughter, Mika loves to help me set up on the weekends: lighting candles, setting the tables and even expediting the food orders. She loves it!
M: What would your advice to future entrepreneurs with dreams of owning their own business be?
B: Owning a restaurant is tough. Surround yourself with great people. People that you trust and more experienced than you. I have learned so much and I am so grateful that we got through COVID.
M: Do you have a philosophy in life or a famous quote you would like to share?
B: This too shall pass. It’s something I always tell myself and it is true.
16 WEST Hosts Events
M: Is there anything else you would like to share?
B: Right now we are focusing on meaningful events. We host a realtors luncheon and we have an upcoming women’s networking lunch.
In August we will have a PRIDE event with my husband coming out of retirement to be our DJ and drag queens. I am also in the beginning stages of organizing a fundraiser for ALS because my dad passed away from the disease.
If you have an idea for an event, please contact Brooke at firstname.lastname@example.org. To book a reservation call: 604.988.7561 or book online. If you would like to learn more about Central Lonsdale’s one of a kind wine restaurant and bar, please visit their website and follow them on Instagram.