Johnson: Downtown Kelowna centre of community block party

The sidewalk cafes are springing up along Bernard, giving our city a new urban, upscale look and a new outdoor presence.

It’s so exhilarating to see the domino effect that the Bernard Avenue  revitalization is having on Kelowna’s downtown.

The sidewalk cafes are springing up along Bernard, giving our city a new urban, upscale look and a new outdoor presence.

Shops are rolling racks onto the new wider sidewalks, bringing the whole retail experience outside.

People are stopping as they walk to look up at the stunning brand-new metal artwork, backlit at night for extra impact.

Meanwhile, local artist Crystal Przybille is working on our one-of-a-kind new lamp posts; the new public pier will be finished by the end of August, and the city is talking about revitalizing City Park in the near future.

To top it all off, there are almost two dozen development projects either proposed or underway in the downtown core right now. You can feel the vitality coming back into downtown—the air is alive with it.

Of course, all this activity downtown continues to attract entrepreneurs, and we’re so lucky to have more delightful additions every month to the incredible mix we already have.

One such entrepreneur who has returned to Kelowna after a seven-month hiatus in Calgary is Genessa Jackson.

The talented young fashion designer ran her shop downtown for about four years before moving briefly to Calgary.

Fortunately for Kelowna, Genessa and her family have come back to Kelowna to stay, and she’s now opened a wonderful new spot at 529 Bernard called La Reve Boutique (French for “the dream”). The new shop features Genessa’s unique designs, all made by her from gorgeous fabrics sourced in Vancouver and the U.S.

Something that sets Genessa totally apart from other young designers is that she only makes six items in each design and she works without any patterns—so each style is totally unique.

That’s truly incredible these days. In addition to her own clothing line, La Reve features exclusive lines Genessa has brought in from New York, L.A. and Italy (after all, with two young children, she can’t spend all her time sewing).

Her top imported lines are V Couture, Cottyon and Sorrento. She tells me that the response to her new store has been great so be sure to stop by and say hello to this energetic and creative lady.

Had a lovely dinner the other night at the new Mon Thong Thai Food Restaurant, which opened a few months back at 1573 Ellis St.

Yes, there is a connection to the Mon Thong in Orchard Plaza, as it’s owned and operated by Ike and New, who are the son and nephew of Joe, owner of the Orchard Plaza location.

Ike and New are into the fresh, clean look and their new spot really showcases this trend.

White on white is the theme, with funky modern chairs, lights, wooden cutout screens and vases.

As you first enter, a charming bar area peaks out from behind a half wall with a double-sided “fireplace” made of varied candles behind glass. Very striking.

The best part is that the Thai food served up here is just as fresh and delicious as what you’ll find at the Orchard Plaza location, and the prices just as reasonable. This new downtown gem is definitely worth a visit for an exotic night out.

Don’t forget that it’s only days away to the annual Block Party downtown. Set for Saturday, Aug.10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., this huge community block party promises to be bigger and better than ever this year.

Bernard Avenue will be closed to traffic so people can stroll, shop and enjoy. Vendors and entertainers will line the street with deals, yummy treats, kids’ activities, dancing, music, giant balloons, a climbing wall and so much more.

Three street stages will feature all-day music, a fashion show and other entertainment.

There will be roller derby, yoga and dog agility demonstrations. It’s just the best time ever and people rave about it all year.

Better mark this one on your calendar, it’s the event of the year downtown and not to be missed.

Kelowna Capital News