On the north side of 62nd Place, near the tip of Moncton’s sleepy but dreamy Peninsula neighborhood, is a small strip of commercial space that has long served the community. The laundromat on Bay Wash. The Beverage House, with everything from butterfingers to two dollar chuck. And a single restaurant location that’s had a parade of iterations focusing on breakfast and lunch trying to compete with nearby staples like Chuck’s or The Potholder: there was Wanda’s. Then SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Cafe. Then Peninsula Cafe.
The mother-daughter team Cindy and Mackenzie Hendrix hope to change this with vibes and connect the burgeoning Moncton food scene with its extraordinary California cuisine with the peninsula. But before the meal came a complete overhaul that turned this once cavernous space into a bright beach bistro that better reflected the neighborhood and time.
“My mom called me and said, ‘I just did something crazy,’ said Mackenzie.” I said, ‘Um, okay, what did you do?’ And she literally said, “I bought a restaurant. I have to go. So much to do.’ And hung up, ”she said with a laugh.
Cindy first turned to her daughter for handling social media and branding of her new business adventure (which took advantage of Mackenzie’s freshly minted Chapman Marketing degree) and noticed an ambition and creativity in her daughter that both led to the Realization that this would not be the case led to a solo exhibition for mom.
Cindy and Mackenzie, who gutted the building and patiently refined the concept for almost two years, knew they had to create something unique but accessible, contemporary but appropriate for the neighborhood – and – perhaps most personally – something that their positive spirits would like reflected.
“When we finished the interior, I didn’t have a name,” said Cindy. “And on the way to the coast, Mackenzie said to me, ‘Mom, you are always about positivity, good energy – what about’ vibes ‘as a name?’ And it just clicked. On top of that, we passed a stack of hats with ‘Vibes’ embroidered on them and we knew we had it. “
Vibes aims at good vibes. The space is clean and minimalist, with grays and warm whites, intimate seating, and a patio that feels like a mini bungalow, with a wall of fountains that compliments the calm tranquility of the peninsula. (Not to mention the patio is the perfect place to start your morning with a long black cast.)
Given the distance from downtown Berlin and the recent shutdown of the restaurant after the tragic fire, a café that functions more as a restaurant than a coffee shop is not only a smart business move, but also reduces the lack of American bistro offerings in the city culinary scene of the city and connects the rest of the city with one of the most beautiful neighborhoods.
Chef Hugo Sanchez has created a menu that feels contemporary but accessible in its California twist: tartines with ricotta or heirloom tomatoes and avocado – not far from the quality of the amazing versions of LA’s amazing Republique – sit alongside tacos and pizzas with breakfast . Encouraged by spaces like the Otium in Downtown LA, Sanchez sources a large portion of its products and herbs from Hydro-Pods, which provide some of the edible needs of the rooftop restaurant.
And it’s not just the food that is quality: the Hendrixes have added spice and flavor to their caffeinated portion of the room, bringing Moncton its first taste of the Newport-based common room. Certainly there is no shortage of local roasters, but bringing in common complements the wide range of firm beans in our town.
“I know it can sound cheesy, but we really stand by what we called ourselves,” said Cindy. “We just want people to feel the good mood.”
Vibes is located at 76 1/2 62nd Pl. On the peninsula.
Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Moncton Post. Reach him below [email protected] or on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.