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(featuring the bees knees Cafe and catering)

This Amazing Story takes place at The Bees Knees Community Café in downtown Nanaimo – Brenda’s vibrant and welcoming workplace.  We have the restaurant all to ourselves for our visit – after business hours.  This not only respects current COVID-19 requirements, but also allows us to enjoy the warm company of both Brenda and Owner/Operator of Bees Knees, Shirin Younessian.  We’re also very pleased to have NACL Employment Services Manager Barb Barry join in on the fun! 


Both Brenda and Shirin are ‘after work relaxed’ and happy to talk about their experiences with NACL Employment Services.


When you meet Brenda, you have the impression that she is in her domain.  Shirin jokes with us that Brenda has become the ‘Queen Bee’ of Bees Knees!

As we’ve already mentioned, this is a very relaxed and friendly visit.  Not only are we offered a freshly-baked snack and fresh fruit to enjoy, but our conversation is filled with many laughs and smiles while both Brenda and Shirin each tell their story about finding each other through NACL Employment Services.


Brenda’s story with NACL began approximately fifteen years ago when she started in the Actions Day Program, which she still attends today.  She started her work experience in the NACL office, and since then also worked in both the retail and janitorial sectors.  All of these experiences have led her to where she is today.  She has now worked at Bees Knees for over two years, and has learned a whole new set of skills.  She clearly shines when working with Shirin and the Bees Knees team.

When asked what she likes about working, Brenda replied without hesitation – “Working and having a job is a good idea.  You get to learn about people.  You learn how to get along with people.  AND, you get paid.”


Brenda takes her responsibilities very seriously, and works hard.


“I clear and clean all the tables, and wipe them with sanitizer.  I get the dishes off the tables and I stamp the delivery bags.  Sometimes I get to help prepare wraps and sandwiches.  I also sometimes get to serve the food to customers at their tables too.”


We wanted to know how Brenda got this job that she obviously loves.  She explains, “Barb and Deb (Buvyer, Employment Specialist) at NACL helped me get ready to apply for the job.  They worked with me to put together work experience and helped me write a letter to Shirin…and…they’re always there to check with if I need to.  They help me to learn how to stay calm and to relax.  My job is good for me to have.”


There is no doubt this workplace is the ideal match for both Brenda and Shirin.


Shirin first heard about NACL Employment Services from a customer at her restaurant.  She made inquiries with NACL and days later, Brenda (accompanied by Deb) came into the restaurant with Brenda’s resume and a letter of introduction.

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“I have awareness, from family experience, of how important it was and still is to take the time to support Brenda while she learns how to help out in the restaurant.  I knew that with just a little bit of help, she would be able to be the support that she has become that was needed in the restaurant.  Brenda is so reliable and so good at everything we ask her to do, once she is shown how.  She wants to be supportive, and her loyalty and desire to do a good job is so wonderful to see.”

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Shirin goes on to say…


“I know this is a perfect match because I’ve learned that Brenda is smart, caring, and always trying her best.  She is loyal and never, never says no when asked to try something new.  We love her attitude.  My staff are like family, and everyone in this workplace family must learn from one another to accept all members of staff, and be flexible and supportive of each other.


This restaurant is a community while still being a family.  We always want to be open and welcoming to everyone – and NACL’s employment staff and support, are a good fit for us.


We have Brenda now – and it works.”

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about the bees knees...

After arriving in Canada from Iran in January 2015, Shirin Younessian took over The Bees Knees Café in 2016 – expanding its services (under its full name of The Bees Knees Café and Catering) to include catering, meal planning, and most recently online cooking classes!  With the support of her family and staff team, they operated their 208 Wallace Street location in Nanaimo from 2016 until early April 2021, and they opened their second café at Country Club Centre in early March 2021 across from the food court (open during mall hours).   

We're happy to report that their new permanent location is NOW OPEN at #104 - 525 Third Street as of mid-September 2021!

Be sure to visit their website and social media (Facebook and Instagram links are included below) for more information – or better yet, please visit either of their warm and welcoming café locations for absolutely DELIGHTFUL (and DELICIOUS) food and beverages! 

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The Bees Knees Cafe and Catering

  • #104 - 525 Third Street, Nanaimo, BC  V9R 1W8

  • Country Club Centre (across from the food court):  #29 - 3200 N. Island Highway, Nanaimo, BC  V9T 1W1

  • (250) 591-5250


NACL thanks you for actively supporting inclusive employers in our community, like The Bees Knees.   

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT nacl employment services?

Would your business or the business of someone you know like to be part of the inclusive employment movement?  NACL Employment Services is always seeking employers to provide opportunities for our Job Seekers with diversabilities.  Please click here for a description of the service itself – or, please click the button below to connect with our Employment Services Manager, Barb Barry, to learn more.  We look forward to hearing from you! 

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