Sweet, savoury & made from scratch

– Words by Laura Langston Photography by Don Denton

Dina Stuehler is proof that casual conversations with friends over coffee can lead to successful and satisfying careers. Providing, that is, you have Dina’s dedication and drive.

“As a teen, I loved cafés,” Dina says. “I’d spend a lot of time in them drinking coffee with friends, and I’d always say, wouldn’t it be great to own a place like this.”

After eight years of working on cruise ships and travelling the world, Dina was ready to return to the island and turn her teenage dream into reality. So, in March 2018, she opened Ironworks Café and Crêperie in Ladysmith. That was quickly followed by her Duncan location in November of 2019, the Nanaimo Ironworks Café and Crêperie location in December 2020, and in January 2022, the Ironworks Café and Crêperie in Port Alberni.

Named in honour of the iron griddles on the crepe pan, all four Ironworks locations offer locally roasted, high-quality coffee and sweet or savoury crepes made from scratch, many of which can be tweaked to suit a variety of dietary preferences. Dina’s goal in opening her cafes was clear: to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere where people could come any time to enjoy coffee and crepes.

It was important to her that people feel as relaxed in her cafés as they would feel at home. This is key because Dina believes that offering delicious food and fantastic coffee is only part of creating a friendly and hospitable ambiance. She also recognizes quality ingredients prepared with care are important too. And as a lover of both coffee and crepes, she wanted to offer the best of both.

“During my travels, I visited coffee plantations in Indonesia, Peru, Colombia and Mexico, and that deepened my appreciation for the work involved in producing a good cup of coffee,” she says. “But it was travelling through Italy that fine-tuned things for me because the Italians really know how to make a good cup of coffee.”

That influence led Dina to exclusively offer Caffé Umbria artisan coffee at all Ironworks locations.

“It’s an Italian medium roast, although we offer dark roast as an option,” she says. “We…

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