When walking in to Cathy’s Corner in Sooke, whether you are a regular or a newcomer, you are sure to be treated with a warm welcome and a giant plate of delicious home-cooked food.
Cathy Gouk, the owner of Cathy’s Corner, found her love of cooking at an early age.
“I started working as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Victoria when I was 13. One day the cook called in sick, so they threw me on the front line and that was it, I never left,” said Gouk.
Gouk was born and raised in Victoria, and said a lot of what she knows about cooking has been passed down to her from her grandmother.
“My grandmother was such a wonderful cook, she’s what made me want to become one. A lot of our recipes come from her, in my little black book,” Gouk said.
Gouk moved to Sooke in 1976 with her husband where she began working as a head cook at the Castle Hotel, and has remained here ever since.
“We were looking for a place that we could start a family, and Sooke had the small town feel we were looking for, plus it is so beautiful here,” said Gouk.
After working at the Castle for many years, Gouk wanted a spot of her own, so she decided to open up Cathy’s Corner in 2011.
The restaurant is now run by Gouk and her family, including her daughter, son, and grandchildren.
“Cooking is my mom’s entire life,” said Janice Gouk, Gouk’s daughter. “We are such a close family now because we spend so much time together here.”
Gouk and Janice explained that the love within the restaurant carries through to the way the food is made.
“We say all our food is made with TLC, and that we hug the eggs,” laughed Janice.
Cathy’s Corner may be tucked away in a tiny spot along Sooke Road, but sees no shortage of customers each day, which are made up of both regulars and newcomers.
“My customers are my family, I owe everything to them,” said Gouk. “You could have a grumpy customer come in, and when they leave they are smiling, after we give them a big meal and a shoulder to cry on. That’s so rewarding to me.”
Gouk begins her work day every morning at 5 a.m. where she serves coffee to the “old timers” in town, and doesn’t leave until after 4 p.m.
“It’s hard work, but the customers outweigh that. We are like a family here. Everybody chats with one another, and helps each other out. I have customers serve tables, make coffee, and I’ve even had a customer wrapping cutlery for me one day when it was really busy,” chuckled Gouk. “It’s so great to be here, and without my customers this would be nothing.”
Although running a restaurant is more than a full-time job for Gouk, she still finds time to give back to the community.
Every year around Christmas, over the course of two days, Cathy’s Corner hosts a free turkey dinner for anyone who wants one.
“It started out when I had a couple of people come in around Christmas who were down on their luck, so I started making turkey dinners for those in need, and then I thought, ‘You know what? lets just pump out turkey dinners to anyone that wants one because you never know who could be struggling,” said Gouk.
She also has a bunch of art work hung up in the restaurant, which are donated by artist Barry Whiting, and proceeds from every piece sold go towards a local charity.
Gouk explained that she feels blessed to be able to work with her family, and have another family made up of customers and community members, so she feels it’s important to help everybody out.
“I just love people. I spend more time at the restaurant than I do at home, and everybody’s my family, so it’s just a wonderful feeling being able to give back,” said Gouk. “It’s my way of loving people, feeding them.”