Say hello to Bonus.
Nestled on the corner of West Georgia and Bute Streets, Bonus Bakery, a bright, yellow-accented space decorated by interior design-pro Meme Brooks, sits in tight quarters with a neighbouring Freshii—so tight, in fact, that the two share the same room. Yet despite the shared space, newly opened Bonus stands out as the first solely plant-based bakery in Vancouver. Plant-based diets (aka veganism) have been a growing trend, but that trend is shifting to something more permanent: backed by the recently released 2019 Canada Food Guide, opting for more plant-based foods is proving to be more of a smart choice than a fashionable one. Bonus’ co-founder Pierrick Tanguy first realized the market for plant-based foods through his concept development work with Virtuous Pie, the vegan pizza-and-ice-cream joint that has made a name of itself as a Chinatown staple since its launch in 2016. (It's now opened Portland and Toronto locations, too.) The opportunity to run his own plant-based joint was about being in the right place at the right time: as the manager of the very same Freshii that shares Bonus' room, he recommended the bakery as a replacement to the closed-down coffee shop that lived there before. Once the owners were on board, Tanguy's next step was to find a baker. Congruent with today’s smartphone culture, he took to social media. He found Bonus’ soon-to-be baker Monica Tang's bakery page on Instagram and direct messaged her with a proposal for coffee and a pitch for a plant-based bakery. And it worked. Within a year, Tang, self-taught and operating out of her parent’s kitchen, found herself in her first professional baking role. Yet with a small prep space in the back of the bakery and a home-size oven in the front where customers can watch their treats baked, Tang didn’t have to sacrifice that home-made charm to her baking. Bonus Co-founder Pierrick Tanguy and Baker Monica Tang. Image: Juli Talerico Being inclusive is important to the Bonus ethos: Tang and Tanguy want to appeal to the non-vegan community as well "to show that you can have great options out there without any animal product," says Tanguy. Indeed, Tang’s baking is so deceptive that a few customers didn’t even realize the bakery was vegan until the second or third visit, he says, laughing. And after a trip to the bakery myself, I can’t blame them. Despite there only being three cookies left once I arrived at 1:30pm (pro tip: head there early for first grabs—they run out fast!), I had a hard time believing that everything on the menu was plant-based. From the specialty Bonus cookie—a pleasantly not-too-sweet amalgamation of chocolate chips, Oreos, Corn Flakes, vegan marshmallows and pretzels inspired by Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar recipes—to the Gardein "chicken" and waffles, Tang’s creativity shines through. Industry standards like blueberry muffins, scones and cinnamon buns are surprising best sellers too, they say. Paired with Matchstick Roasters coffee and a choice of soy, almond, coconut, cashew or oat milk, Tang’s treats are best when fresh out of the oven. The Bonus Cookie. Image: Juli Talerico At the heart of this unique little bakery, Tang and Tanguy want their customers to enjoy delicious baked-goods first and foremost, with the health component as an extra, well, bonus. Bonus Bakery is located at 1185 W Georgia St, Vancouver and open from 7:30am-2:30pm Monday to Friday.