By Nikki Bayley
If you want a sweet taste of BC in a glass, leave the downtown core and jump on a 135 bus which will take you straight along Hastings Street and deliver you to Glenburn Soda Fountain and Confectionary in the heart of Burnaby Heights. As a residential area dotted with historic heritage houses, it’s not necessarily somewhere that most visitors would see, but fans of ice cream and soda fountains need to add Glenburn to their itineraries; you’ll be delighted that you did. Once you’re in the parlour and take a seat at the shining counter, prepare to enter a world of delicious indecision: what should you order? So many choices! From milkshakes, malteds and egg creams to piled-high sundaes with a myriad of flavours, everything looks so tempting; but it’s when you discover that it’s you’re getting a truly local flavour that things get interesting…
Owners Ron and Roberta LaQuaglia opened their doors in 2012 on a mission to create an old-style fountain parlour with all the sauces made from scratch in-house. “We feel really strongly that everything we need to make ice cream treats is right here in BC,” says Ron. “What you get in our sundaes is a taste of BC in a glass: home-made fruit sauces, whipped cream, ice cream–everything we give you is local.” Although they’re a relatively new addition to the neighbourhood, Glenburn looks as though it’s been a much-loved fixture for a while, “Ice cream was an important part of my family life, a fun part of my childhood and we’d all go out for ice cream year-round. We wanted an old-style place and when we found an older building things just clicked,” smiles Ron. “We didn’t want to make it look like a museum though, we wanted a working soda fountain and it was a no-brainer to use local producers to make our treats.”
Using fresh cream from Avalon Dairy in Burnaby and ice cream from Birchwood Dairy in the nearby Fraser Valley, a family-run farm which makes ice cream the old-fashioned way with a high butterfat percentage to give it an extra-creamy texture, Ron and Roberta put local first every time. “Our customers really appreciate that we use Avalon,” says Ron. “We get the cream in glass bottles which keeps it colder and gives it a better flavour, plus, we can send the empties back so they can reuse them and there’s no waste.”
When it comes to the fruit for the fresh-made sauces, it was a no-brainer to go local, “Roberta is the operations manager for the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, she has great connections to local farmers.” Enthuses Ron, “Here in BC we have an abundance of fruit: peaches, strawberries, apricots, raspberries and blueberries, Roberta keeps on top of whatever is fresh and seasonal and we make that part of our menu.” Ron believes it’s that commitment to seasonal produce that keeps the customers happy, “I think it’s immediately noticeable that the flavour of our sundae sauces is different; our fruit sauces taste fresh and not overly sweet,” Ron laughs, “When you get local fruit and cook it down, then it tastes naturally sweet. It’s real fruit! People don’t expect that and they’re delighted by it.”
Glenburn Soda, 4090 Hastings Street. www.Glenburnsoda.com
Closed Monday, Tuesday–Saturday 2-10pm, Sunday 2-8pm.