In the sea of ??St. John’s rental ads, Shauna Bowens and Nathan Thomas’ ads stand out for a very strange reason: food.
The couple recently posted an ad on Kijiji, hoping to provide a fully equipped room in their newly purchased west home.
But instead of showing photos of the house being renovated, they posted nine magazines worth seeing photos, from chicken wings to seafood salad to tomahawk steak.
“Live with a world-class chef who cooks for you!” said the ad. “Private master room on the top floor with views of West St. John’s… in a fully furnished house, suitable for those who like food.”
The advertisement states that all utilities are included in the monthly rent of $1,000, and they do mean it all: tenants will “have unlimited use of well-stocked cabinets and provide professionally cooked meals every day.”
In an interview, Thomas admitted that this concept was unusual, but said it made sense for him and his partner Bowens.
Bowens is a well-trained chef who has worked in restaurants all over the world. Thomas is the digital solutions manager for Compass, which is one of the world’s largest food service providers.
The couple moved from Toronto to St. John’s in March. Bowens is now a personal support officer and Thomas works from home.
Bowens will make most of the meals, but they all love cooking and socializing, and cherish the childhood memories shared with family and friends.
Thomas said that the opportunity to pass on this experience to tenants who might have lived alone will make them feel warm.
“It’s one thing to have a place to live,” he said.
“But to feel welcome, to feel cared for, to have a well-stocked cupboard, this is another experience that I think renters miss.”
A la carte breakfast, home-cooked dinner
The meal plan will include à la carte breakfast and home-cooked dinners from a variety of cuisines, from Louisiana-style Po’ Boy sandwiches to Portuguese piri piri chicken, to “comfort foods” such as peppers and cream cheese pasta.
“We will find out their possible dietary needs and restrictions, and then we will develop the menu,” Thomas said. “It will be customizable…. We want to provide a lot of communication for anyone with us, and the best way we know how to do this is with food.”
He said that the couple also like to bake, so snacks such as banana bread and Jamaican meatloaf will come out.
Tenants can choose to dine in the privacy of their rooms, take them to work with them, or dine at the table with Thomas and Bowens.
“If they want to sit down and eat with us, they will have this choice,” Thomas said.
Photos of the room are coming soon
The next few weeks will be busy for Thomas and Bowens.
In addition to arranging rental applicants for the August 1 move-in date, they are also moving into their new house, which is in the final stage of renovation.
After the renovation, Thomas said that he would post pictures of the actual room on the rental advertisement.
But the food photos will stay.
These photos have attracted considerable attention and are a good visual sale for the unique opportunity this couple offers.
“This is not for everyone,” Thomas said. “But for the right people, this will be a good way to save money, save time running around to buy groceries, and it’s also a good way to enjoy food and company.”