(Meet on Blanshard/Facebook)
Linda and Jason Antony, together with their longtime friend Ivo Staian, always imagined what their restaurant could be. When it finally happened, it was MeeT—a plant-based restaurant focused on comfort, accessibility, and affordability.
Now, the trio is hopping across the Georgia Strait to bring their vision to Victoria.
“[MeeT] is a place that can appeal to a wide range of people,” Jason told Tasting Victoria. “It’s great for when you have a diverse group of people with diverse tastes.”
The three owners have been in the restaurant business for nearly three decades together, each cutting their teeth working in the service industry before going into business together; now, the trio owns eight restaurants.
MeeT on Main opened in Vancouver in 2014, and by nature, the name is somewhat of an inside joke, since the restaurant serves plant-based dishes. Jason said that may be true but his desire he said was not to be known as the “new plant-based restaurant” in town—he just wants a place where everyone can eat.
“For vegetarians who don’t want to have [meat], they don’t have to worry about it here,” Jason said. “But sometimes when people hear something like ‘plant-based’ or ‘gluten-free bakery,’ they shy away from going. We want people to think of [MeeT] as a restaurant first.”
Jason said its dishes are craved by veggies and non-veggies alike, like its butter chicken and ginger beef. The brains behind the menu is Jason’s wife, Linda—a trained chef who went to culinary school. Linda has said she took inspiration for MeeT’s menu from trying to cook vegetarian dishes that appealed to Jason and their three sons.
The result is a menu that can range from poutine and burgers, to vindaloo and calamari. But Linda can’t take all the credit either—Jason said they give their chefs a lot of creative control in the kitchen to think of new features.
“[Linda] is working with the teams [at each restaurant] and all these different people with different backgrounds and different experiences,” he said. “There’s a lot of different things coming to the table—it makes it fun, dynamic and interesting.”
Now, MeeT is setting up shop in the old Boston Pizza on Blanshard Street and Hillside Avenue—which will be its biggest location yet. Jason said he’s been living in Victoria for the past six weeks, renovating the interior to get it ready by December.
“We’re going to really brighten up the space to try and have it be more in line with our feel,” Jason said. “We’ve completely redone the kitchen and we’ve rebuilt areas. “
Whenever a chain restaurant such as Boston Pizza closes, it’s hard to imagine anything taking over the space. But it seems MeeT is leaning into a few elements of that familiarity by repurposing some stuff: Jason said he and his crew took the hardwood from the floors to make the restaurant’s tables.
“The place is 30 years old,” he said. “So we basically had to restart a few of the areas of the business, but reused others.”
Jason said they expect MeeT to open to the public in the next month, but in the meantime, he said people can follow MeeT on Blanshard on Instagram or Facebook to get in early for its soft launch.