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BIZ BEAT: Local food products available at more than farmers markets

New tea house in Port Alberni brings tea people together
Mariah Christiana Pollock supports Wesco Foods at Harbour Quay. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)



From farms to farm markets to being a professional chef, Sylvain Rollin has always believed in the value of preparing, growing, eating and purchasing locally-produced food. That passion for local food development inspired him to open Wesco Foods at Harbour Quay in May.

Wesco Foods is an organic food store, carrying local food produced in the Alberni Valley or as close to the valley as possible, says Rollin.

“We process, create, package and distribute local products and/or produce coming from local producers, other food developers and partners,” says the new Wesco Foods website. “The mission is to enhance our local food development and production in our region.”

Rollin, originally from Quebec, wants to change the mindset of just going to the supermarket. Wesco Foods provides access to local food every day, not just on Saturdays when the farmers market is open. And it provides a place for local food producers to sell their products.

“The response has been great,” says Sylvain who has experience in organic farming. “Young farmers are coming to me. For example, buying garlic from me for planting and then in the future be able to sell the garlic at the store.”

Rollin envisions Wesco as a full grocery store in the future, perhaps creating a second location.

In the meantime, Wesco Foods has just launched their website where locally produced foods can be ordered online for shipping, pick up or delivery. Bulk foods and special orders are also available.

In November, Rollin has been invited to attend the Buy BC food fair Every Chef Needs a Farmer, Every Farmer Needs a Chef in Victoria.

“I will be bringing some local products,” says Rollin. “We will show what Port Alberni can do.”

Wesco Foods is open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Rachelle Mecca is tea person. When she moved to Port Alberni she was looking for other tea people, so she started making her own blends and offering them for sale at the Spirit Square Farmers Market.

The teas proved so popular that Mecca has now opened her own teahouse, Mecca Tea House, located next to Alberni Liquor Store.

Mecca became interested in tea when she was working at a tea shop in Ontario. The owner was a tea sommelier. “I learned so much about tea, it was inspiring,” says Mecca. “Here in Port Alberni I wanted a tea community around me. I wanted to find tea people … now I have a tea house!”

She has connected with some of those local tea people and a few have definitely become friends.

Mecca, who is also a poet, describes the tea house as,

A place to have tea

Sit comfortably and eat

But mostly drink tea

The shop offers $5 tea service, tea flights of three teas and small snacks. Arisanal coffee options are also available. The teas are all artisanal, organic and single origin and are available for purchase to take home.

Mecca Tea House is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To learn more, find MeccaTea on Facebook.


Port Alberni loves pizza. At least, that is what two new national brand pizzerias are counting on. Pizza Pizza opened on Redford Street near Iris Optometrists recently and Papa John’s has opened at the corner of Roger and 10th Ave. That brings the number of places to get a pizza in Port Alberni to at least a dozen (in alphabetical order): Boston Pizza, Dominos, Dimitri’s, Orestes, Panagos, Papa John’s, Pizza Factory, Pizza Hut, Pizza Pizza, Real Canadian 3 for 1 Pizza, Twin City Brewing and Wildflower Café.


Three businesses that were located in Harbour Quay, have moved up … up the hill, to upper Argyle, between Third and Fourth Avenues. Pier Pressure Tattoo and Piercing, Flip it CA store and Witchy Woman Supply Co. have all settled into larger spaces over the summer. Find Pier Pressure Tattoo and Piercing next to INEO, Witchy Woman Supply Co. on the corner of Third and Argyle and Flip it CA just up the block on Argyle. Please note that Flip it CA is closed until December 1.


The Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) has hired a new corporate secretary. Paula Mason comes from the District of Ucluelet and brings with her 12+ years’ experience in administration, finance and customer service.

“Ms. Mason has sound knowledge and extensive experience in communications, human resources, and health and safety & will be a strong asset to the Port Authority team,” said Zoran Knezevic, president and CEO of PAPA in a news release. “Please join me in welcoming Paula to the Port Authority and the community!”

Teresa Bird is the group publisher of the Alberni Valley News, Parksville-Qualicum Beach News and Westerly News. Do you have a business tip for her? E-mail her at

Rachelle Mecca serves up tea at her new tea house. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

About the Author: Alberni Valley News Staff

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