Photos: At Home with the Owners of Tacofino

They came, they saw and they conquered Vancouver, but their Tofino home has always been the locus of their West Coast cool.

February 28, 2018

By Julia Dilworth / Photo: Lillie Louise Major

Before the Vancouver truck, the Hastings-Sunrise bricks-and-mortar restaurant or the Gastown taco bar, the two heads of the Tacofino empire were renting in Tofino’s Vinyl Village—a spot within eyeshot of their first venture. “When we first moved to Tofino, we spent all our money on our food truck,” laughs Kaeli Robinsong. Her husband and business partner, Jason Sussman, would fit in surf sessions before or after work.

The small-town-ness and community of Tofino were a big draw for both, so they bought a dark and “dungeony” old welding shop in the woods, right across the street from the beach. And over time, the pair slowly turned its 500-ish square feet into the 1,600-square-foot “hippie West Coast” family home for four they live in today. A big L-shaped addition with a porthole, skylights and extra bedrooms brought in much needed space and light. “Two of the main support posts in our house are full tree trunks,” says Robinsong. Cedars taken down to make room for their home were put back by post-and-beam specialist Ian Garrard in almost the same spot.

A favourite space in the beachy retreat is the open-to-the-forest bathroom, with punchy green dandelion tile that they imported from Vietnam for their Gastown restaurant (she ordered extra for their home before they started renovating). Also sourced from their Tacofinos: scraps of rug made into pillows, white table numbers now used as bookends, and even a Bocci light fixture that Sussman rescued during the construction of their Hastings location. “It was a funny-shaped one that was literally in the dumpster out back. It was like, ‘How is there a Bocci light in the dumpster?’” laughs Robinsong of their Omer Arbel nightlight. “There are little bits of Tacofino everywhere.”


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Beach Days “Most mornings Jason will put the kids on the bike and go and do a surf check while I’m making breakfast,” says Robinsong. “And when it’s snowing we’ll go make ‘snow sand men.’”


Family Ties Kaeli’s dad, Lee Robinsong, has been painting realistic circular artworks since the ’70s and the couple found this one, Swallows—depicting her as a child with her parents on their native Cortes Island—that he had sold years before in the U.S. Now it hangs in their addition, where it mirrors their porthole window


Kitchen Confidential “I think we’re looking forward to some real grown-up cupboards,” says Kaeli Robinsong (pictured with husband Jason Sussman and daughter Leni). Their reno-in-progress will see the well-used “funky and eclectic” kitchen overhauled next to give it a more clean, modern look.


Bring the Indoors Out “Our shower has a big door that opens onto our deck and we have a moon soaker tub right outside, which is a pretty awesome feature,” says Robinsong.

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