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Vernon man reviewing every eatery in the city in memory of late wife

Vernon resident Logan Saunders with his late wife Maria Jee-an Paladar Olivares at a restaurant in Phuket, Thailand.
Vernon resident Logan Saunders with his late wife Maria Jee-an Paladar Olivares at a restaurant in Phuket, Thailand.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Logan Saunders

A Vernon man is on a mission to review every single restaurant, cafe and eatery in the city by the end of the year, a total of 154.

Online ESL teacher Logan Saunders has eaten at 88 restaurants so far, leaving photos, ratings and reviews on Google Maps reviews and ratings, and he still has 59 to go.

“I’ve lived here for over 20 years and I’m just setting foot in some eateries for the first time, especially the local, independent ones,” he said.

Saunders' wife passed away last year, but prior to that the pair enjoyed eating out as they travelled to various countries, and in the past couple of years when she joined him in Vernon from the Philippines, they’d have fun trying out local restaurants and began leaving reviews in July, 2021.

“I remember asking Facebook where to find the best poutine, because I wanted her to try Canadian foods, and got the worst responses,” Saunders said. “We found the Google reviews so useful when we travelled we thought, why not do it here.”

Google Maps reviews & ratings is a global public app that allows people to voluntarily write reviews for places they visit to share information and experiences with others. 

When asked how he rates eateries out of five stars, Saunders said his system “isn’t the most sophisticated.” He doesn’t like doing negative reviews of local eateries because it’s been so tough for restaurants.

“I’m not a food critic, we started it to have fun and give people a specific picture of what a place is like,” he said. “I try to be helpful. I specify what I ordered, the cost, whether I liked the food, the service and any other random or quirky things like unique music in the background.”

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Last year the couple spent five months in Phuket, Thailand where they kept up the reviews.

“There were still a lot of COVID restrictions so people were operating food stalls out of their homes,” he said. “Those places weren’t listed on Google Maps so we manually entered the new restaurants and addresses. People from different countries started following my profile.”

Lately Saunders has been making ranked lists of specific types of restaurants. He went to every Japanese restaurant in Vernon and listed them from least favourite to favourite, noting what the biggest strengths are, like which has the best donburi balls and which makes the best tempura.

READ MORE: BC restaurant industry looking for more help through rough patch

When he posted a list of pizza places ranked from least favourite to favourite, some people put up a fight.

“Oh I got flack, people got defensive about pizza,” he said. “One commenter was upset I put Little Caesars at the bottom. I told him he shouldn’t be taking me so seriously and he’s more than free to do his own Vernon pizzeria rankings.”

Saunders reviewed Cambium Cider Company earlier this week. He didn't taste the food but gave the cider a five-star rating and described the costs, atmosphere, playlists and flavours. 

Vernon resident Logan Saunders reviewed Cambium Cider Company on Google Maps reviews & ratings.
Vernon resident Logan Saunders reviewed Cambium Cider Company on Google Maps reviews & ratings.
Image Credit: Google Maps

For Saunders, it isn’t just about eating and reviewing, it’s a continuation of the special times spent dining out with his late wife.

“Our biggest thing was exploring and finding eateries, I have big fond memories,” he said. “I think of how far I’ve jumped into this and I feel she’s a big part of it.” 

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