In a Richmond industrial park, two friends made their culinary dream come true. And now, that dream extends into the nighttime.
“We’ve got a bit of a weird location here,” says Sean Fay, laughing good-naturedly.
Fay is standing in the kitchen of Boy with a Knife (BWAK), the Richmond restaurant and catering company he manages and co-owns alongside Chef Brandon Dac.
“We’re nestled away from anyone who would be able to find us,” he admits. “You have to be searching for us.”
Given that “Location! Location! Location!” is the guiding mantra of opening a business, it might seem a fatal error that the duo chose to base BWAK out of “an industrial park in East Richmond,” whose closest landmark is IKEA.
But nothing about BWAK has ever been typical—and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
BWAK was born out of “fairly humble beginnings,” says Fay. He and Dac (a graduate of the Art Institute of Vancouver’s International Culinary School) were roommates and long-time friends when, in 2013, they began throwing dinner parties in their apartment.
“Brandon makes really good food and I had always entertained—it was one of those situations where one thing led to another. We’d invite two people over, and they’d all want to bring friends just because the food was so good.
“I said to Brandon, ‘I think we’ve got something going on here.’”
The popularity of their dinner parties led to the founding of a catering company. They rented a commissary kitchen as their base of operations, and before long, they took over the lease and bought out the adjoining restaurant. This is the “weird location” that’s been home to BWAK ever since.
For the past six-plus years, BWAK has thrived out of this unlikely site. “As a catering company, we’re centrally located to get to Vancouver, to Surrey, even other parts of Richmond,” says Fay.
And then they discovered that the people who work at other businesses in their neighbourhood were extremely grateful for their arrival, providing somewhere nearby to get a delicious, thoughtfully prepared lunch.
BWAK’s in-house grab-and-go deli—offering sandwiches, salads, wraps and regular specials—immediately became “smokin’ busy” throughout the day.
And now, Fay and Dac have turned their attention to nighttime.
“For the past six years, our hours have been from 10:30am until 2:30pm—the most ridiculous hours you could possibly have as a restaurant,” says Fay, laughing again. “It’s definitely served us. But then we began thinking, ‘we can do more in this location.’”
That “more” is now here in the form of a fun, sprawling, creative evening menu (served Tuesday to Saturday until 10 pm) boasting ten different burgers and sandwiches, four types of hot dogs, salads, poké, poutine and much more.
BWAK also showcases a rotating selection of local craft beers on tap and in tall cans, plus daily drink specials.
Their “hidden gem” location makes summer the perfect time for people to discover BWAK, says Fay. “We have a great full-sun, south-facing patio. There’s no hustle and bustle around you. It’s really peaceful and awesome.”
Better still, BWAK’s expanded nighttime menu offers everyone the chance to try Chef Brandon’s acclaimed creations in a relaxed, unpretentious environment while soaking up summer’s rays and unwinding to classic rock and soul playlists.
“’Bold, unique flavours’ is something people say all the time about our food,” says Fay. “Catering has become a sort of test kitchen for us. And then the things we love, and that take off, get a permanent spot on our menus.” These include the BWAK Poutine—“a riff off of a Filipino adobo pork” with charred pork gravy and crispy garlic—and the more-is-more indulgence of the Storph Burger with crispy fried chicken, salami, provolone and roasted red peppers.
“So many people have wanted to try Brandon’s food but haven’t been able to through the catering side,” says Fay. “Now, finally, everybody can. We can’t wait for more people to discover us.”
And should you be wondering: Boy With a Knife’s name simply came from a brainstorming session one night at the beach. It was “cute and adorable,” says Dac—so that was that.
Boy With a Knife is located at 7-3331 Viking Way in Richmond. Find out more and explore their menu at boywithaknife.ca.