At least 20 staff from the Grant Thornton offices in Langley participated in the third annual Making Steps Count Walk. (Special to the Langley Advance)

UPDATED: Oak & Thorne move makes room for new Sicilian-themed eatery in North Langley

The Joseph Richard Group is expanding its portfolio in Langley with The Italian.

In my last column, I mentioned Joseph Richard Group (JRG) , and the food and beverage company’s efforts to raise money for breast cancer research.

I’m wanting to return to that business again this week.

I wanted to confirm the rumours that JRG’s relatively new Oak & Thorne Public House in Walnut Grove is on the move.

Oak just opened back in 2015 into the current location at 202nd Street and 88th Avenue.

Well, their future home will be located just across the street, attached to the Sandman Hotel.

They’re taking over the Shark Club’s old home at 20169 88th Ave., which I’m told is a much bigger space (they’ll go from 190 to 350 seats) including two patios, plus a later liquor licence (meaning they can host late night events).

And in the current Oak & Thorne location, JRG will be setting up a brand new restaurant.

Introducing The Italian, a new Sicilian-theme restaurant, expected to open later this year, according to CEO Ryan Moreno.

“At The Italian, the flavours of Italy will be the star attraction,” Moreno said, noting that the culinary team will be lead by JRG’s director of culinary operations Matthew Stowe (Top Chef Canada winner), JRG’s corporate chef David Jorge (MasterChef Canada winner), JRG executive chef Andy Slinn, and opening chef Jason Harper.

“Food does so much more than nourish us,” Moreno said. “It brings family and friends together, sometimes for hours, to share great dishes and conversations over a multi-course meal. In Italy especially, sharing food and drink and bonding with extended family is a centuries-old tradition. That is what we’re all about at our establishments, too.”

Now with the outcry for workers being heard from throughout the hospitality industry of late, it shouldn’t shock any of us that JRG took the chance – when introducing The Italian – to also issue a call for people to staff their newest restaurant.

Anyone interested in working at The Italian is encouraged to contact directly.

“Italian food is one of the most comforting and universally loved cuisines in the world,” said Stowe. “We look forward to bringing this delicious new menu and concept to the Fraser Valley.”

As for when the Oak & Thorne will be relocated and The Italian opens, I’ll let you know, as soon as I know.

Now, keeping on the topic of JRG, let me tell you about another one of their community outreach efforts.

After raising more than $35,000 for Covenant House Vancouver’s Sleep Out event last year, JRG is increasing its commitment to Lower Mainland at-risk youth by aiming to raise $50,000 this year with its own company-wide Sleep Out event to be held on Monday, Nov. 13 at three of its locations – icluding one in Langley.

Last year, JRG aimed to raise $13,500 for Covenant House and wound up nearly tripling that amount by bringing in $35,576.

This year, it hopes to bring in $50,000. In addition to having the entire company participate, JRG will also encourage donations by providing donors with a $25 gift card for every $50 they donate. Additionally, for any donation of $1,000 or more, JRG will offer dinner for up to six guests, hosted by JRG director of culinary operations chef Matthew Stowe (Top Chef Canada winner) or JRG corporate chef David Jorge (MasterChef Canada winner).

With approximately 950 people employed at 20 JRG public houses, restaurants, and liquor retail outlets in B.C. and Alberta, more than 100 employees are expected to spend a night sleeping on the street at one of three JRG locations (Townhall Maple Ridge, Oak & Thorne in Langley, and S+L Kitchen & Bar South Surrey).

Three days later (Nov. 16), JRG co-founders Ryan Moreno and Andre Bourque will be joined by Chef Stowe to also take part in the downtown Vancouver Sleep Out – executive edition at Vancouver Covenant House.

For Moreno, community philanthropy is an important part of JRG’s corporate philosophy as well as its success.

“We are all fortunate to have a roof over our head and a bed to sleep in,” Moreno said.

“Last year, Matt and I spent a cold night on the street and got a glimpse into what a night is like for those who are less privileged. We also learned a great deal about the important work Covenant House does and how they support at-risk youth from around the Lower Mainland.

“It’s a cause that struck a chord with our guests, as well as our employees, whose ages are largely the same as the young adults Covenant House helps. I was so moved by the experience and felt that there had to be more that we could do. This year, we felt that, together, we could make a larger impact and encourage our guests and everyone in the Lower Mainland to get behind us and support Covenant House. We plan to make this an annual event and our hope is to also inspire other businesses, organizations and people within our communities to get involved.”

Each year Covenant House Vancouver provides shelter, food, clothing and counselling to 1,400 young people through its daily drop-in, street outreach, and residential programs. Because Covenant House is 94 per cent privately funded, its Sleep Out events play a critical role in supporting its youth crisis program, which provides 35 beds for males and 24 beds for females.

“Our work, and the support of companies like the Joseph Richard Group make a tremendous difference in the lives of street youth in BC,” said Krista Thompson, Executive Director, Covenant House Vancouver. “I want to thank everyone at JRG. We admire their commitment and creativity, and encourage their friends, families and patrons to support this worthwhile cause.”

• Stay tuned to the Langley Advance for more details about the Nov. 13 event at the Oak & Thorne here in Langley.



Two Langley construction related companies were in the limelight at the recent Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association’s Awards of Excellence evening.

Langley’s Lonnie Chaisson, of Hy-Line Sales, received the association’s marketing award, while Langley’s own Jeff Bontkes of Benchmark Homes was given the association’s community service member of the year award.

“The Awards of Excellence honour association members for their exceptional level of volunteer commitment and dedication to the enhancement of the professionalism of the homebuilding industry in Metro Vancouver,” said GVHBA chief executive officer Bob de Wit.

“The 2017 winners reflect the overall success of our member-driven association,” he noted.



Money is still coming in, but already the accounting team at Langley’s Grant Thornton LLP has raised about $3,000 for children’s charities.

Specifically, the dollars raised by the local office before the end of October will go to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada, explained Rebecca Poelman, a senior accountant with the Willoughby firm.

It’s part of the Grant Thornton Foundation’s third annual Making Steps Count Walk –an initiative supporting positive change in communities across Canada.

The local campaign featured a local walk on Oct. 4.

The Langley staff joined about 500 other colleagues, in the 60-plus Grant Thornton offices across Canada, for a group walk around the community.

“The 44-person Langley office had 20-plus participants who walked,” Poelman explained, noting that money is still being collected until Oct. 31.

But so far, the national campaign has raised about $72,000, while the local office expects to top $3,000 of that.

Making Steps Count has raised over $213,000 for children’s community programs in Canada, said Grant Thornton’s executive partner Kevin Ladner.

“It’s a great experience to give back to the community and feel the passion our Grant Thornton people have during this walk,” he said.

“We hope this year’s walk reminds us all that we need to support and motivate those around us to create a brighter future for children across Canada.”

Making Steps Count raises funds for mentor relationships through Bigs, food for schools supported by the Breakfast Clubs, and post-secondary scholarships through the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“Giving back is in our DNA – we call it Living our Purple. Whether it’s through fundraising, donating or volunteering, The Grant Thornton Foundation believes in creating a sustainable advantage for the communities in which we work and live,” said, Krista Han, s partner at Grant Thornton and chair of the Grant Thornton Foundation.

Established in 2011, the foundation was designed to help Grant Thornton professionals focus their collective philanthropic efforts – whether in the form of fundraising, volunteering or donating professional expertise – to make the greatest impact possible in their communities across the country.


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