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I feel like this could easily be titled, “The Lost Blog Post”, as this post was suppose to be one of my original four in-depth posts when I launched the site. A combination of factors, both personal and professional, including being overwhelmed from all the information I had thrown at me in my interview with Vera, Queen Gypsy owner, pushed me to hold off on publishing this post. With the highly anticipated return of the Brampton’s Farmers Market this weekend, it seems almost fitting for me to “man up” and I finally tackle one of the most informative interviews I had to process to date.

 

Introduction
Vera’s journey to establishing firm roots in Brampton’s downtown core is something that goes back to a trip to a Russian Gypsy restaurant with dancers and music in Belgrade. Imagine being at a restaurant where you are calmly eating with your loved ones in a very relaxed environment and the second the clock strikes 11pm, you hear a loud sound and you are now in the middle of a fun, crazy celebration. It was from this experience that Vera knew she wanted to open her own restaurant. Unfortunately, shortly after opening a location in her home country of Serbia, she was forced to leave the country due to political conflicts within the country. Vera was still able to be involved in the restaurant industry as she worked for various restaurants in Cyprus and other countries. After coming to Canada, Vera took some time away from her dream until being strongly encouraged by family and friends to turn her love of baking and cooking for loved ones back to the original plan of owning a restaurant. Although the earlier business in Canada was a modern cafe in Toronto, it still would create a connection to her future home in the form of a weekly event called the Downtown Brampton Farmer’s Market.

One of the many questions I asked in an almost two hours interview was , “Why Brampton”?, which was quickly credited to our city’s well organized Farmer’s Market. Little to my knowledge at the time of the interview was that Vera was a vendor on the same street she would later call home for many years. Every week, Vera would drive to Brampton with a variety of fresh, delicious pastries and pies with no preservatives that caused line ups for its amazing taste and great value at 3 items for $5. It is safe to say that Vera left with empty containers and trays after every Saturday. When the lease on their Toronto business was close to expiring, it only made sense to come to Brampton and what made it even more of a no brainer was that a space was available on the very street that Vera had travelled to on a weekly basis. In September 2013, Queen Gypsy opened its doors to the people of Brampton.  And after originally being a cafe that specialized in breakfast, lunch, and pastries, Queen Gypsy changed its menu to focus more on lunch and dinner with the addition of a liquor license.

 

The Menu
The menu of Queen Gypsy is best described by Vera as “Central European with a Gypsy twist” and is prepared with no preservatives or additives. Anyone familiar with Central European cuisine will be aware that the dishes are not typically known for having exotic spices and prepared with very simple seasoning. What does this mean? A significant focus on bringing in good quality produce and meats; not matter the cost. “I always talk about food expenses, but she will never bend on quality”, Thomas commented. “It is like when someone comes to your home and you want to serve them nothing but the very best and make sure they do not leave hungry”, proudly said Vera. Now, some of you are wondering what exactly “a Gypsy twist” is. Although Vera is not a Gypsy, she best described it to me as “taking little bits of different foods and making it work in some unique creation and adding more colour and spice in a messier format”; something that goes back to the idea of a Gypsy going around asking for food and making it work despite the level of skill and equipment available. This unique combination does not stop Queen Gypsy from creating delicious menu items; 80% of which is comfort food.

 

Theme and Values
When you enter Queen Gypsy, you are immediately surprised by the most unique decorations will ever see in a restaurant: barn doors as table tops, blue stained chip board for flooring, antique decorations, and bright, bold colors on the wall. Remaining consistent to a Gypsy concept, Vera and her team visited a number of antique shops and auctions to find unwanted items that they can recreate to suit their needs. There is only one thing more unique abut Queen Gypsy than its interior and theme: Vera’s values and beliefs that flow through the restaurant and staff. When discussing her first cafe in Toronto, she spoke very highly of the level of support she received from the local community, especially in tough times, but also had sense of disappointment that she was unable to connect as much with customers due to the majority of patrons being in a rush to go to the subway. It was even clearer to me when she mentioned that what she enjoyed most about owning a restaurant was interacting with people. With this in mind, Vera saw the opportunity for Queen Gypsy to be a place that “feels like home, but with even more positive vibrations”. I have visited the Queen Gypsy twice and, on both occasions, felt like I was visiting a friend’s home from the comfortable, warm, and friendly environment, rather I was speaking to Vera or Thomas.

 

In Brampton and the Future
Queen Gypsy truly is something different from other restaurants in Brampton; so different that at times that it catches some people off guard, but Vera welcomes the challenge. Her confidence comes not just from her beliefs and values, but when thinking of a folktale she told me in the interview. The folktale involved a tourist from a foreign land that fell in love with a local Gypsy woman as he was completely pulled into the culture and her passionate nature and free spirit. “I hope people from Brampton will see us as the Gypsy woman like in this story and the key for us is that all it takes is for a person to get that feeling and want to share it with others”, said Vera.

Because of the massive gap between when this interview was recorded and when this article is being published, I am not comfortable disclosing what I was told for future plans. However, there was one particular component of the future that just gives you a much clearer understanding of the values and love within Queen Gypsy. In hanging out, it had slipped from Vera that Queen Gypsy is actually her second last step to her dream. What can be much bigger than a place that makes genuine connections with customers and treats them like a family member coming over? A restaurant that allows people to pay how much they feel like paying, rather it’s a low price if they can’t afford it or a higher price because they truly appreciate the meal and experience in the name of the greater good. Why would someone do this?

 

Because…

 

Love and Respect is Everything”- Vera, Owner of Queen Gypsy

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