Murray and Marina Kereliuk went from running a fine dining establishment to a food truck since the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Murray and Marina Kereliuk went from running a fine dining establishment to a food truck since the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Pandemic pivot leads to the creation of the Yellow Sub Machine for gourmet sub grub

Former Odika owners stake their claim in the food truck business

A Beatles’ song immediately comes to mind. “We all live in a Yellow Sub Machine, a yellow sub machine, a yellow sub machine….”

Marina and Murray Kereliuk don’t actually live in the Yellow Sub Machine, of course, but it’s been their transition business during the pandemic, taking up residence in a food truck on the Trans Canada Highway next to the Antique Barn after selling their Odika restaurant in downtown Chemainus.

“The pandemic kind of changed everything,” conceded Murray. “We love being in business and I love cooking. Food trucks are all takeout anyway.”

The Yellow Sub Machine, as the name implies, caters solely to making gourmet sub sandwiches that have already proven to be a huge hit with customers since the Kereliuks opened the food truck for business nearly two months ago in early March. Their location close to industrial businesses on Smiley Road gives them a solid customer base, but people from around town are slowly learning about their new operation after a decade of running Odika.

The Kereliuks have an adopted daughter who’s 22 and a son attending Chemainus Elementary School and really wanted to stay in Chemainus.

Murray is originally from Alberta and Marina from Africa. They met in Vancouver and were living in White Rock which Murray said was super expensive.

“We were looking for a way to get ahead,” he confided. “When I met her I recently lost a business.”

They ended up at Iris Lodge in remote Zeballos for five months before going to Gold River for six years and then coming to Chemainus to establish Odika, a word from Marina’s language related to food.

They built a reputation for serving fine food and some unique dishes, but it was hard in recent years to attract enough of a regular clientele to meet their needs. But it was definitely a go-to place for special occasions.

“You kind of see customers once or twice a year,” said Murray. “For us, the theatre was probably 80 per cent of our business. They’re out for an enjoyable evening. They want to have a nice dinner and go on to the show and the theatre. We did have some tourism as well.”

The restaurant used to be open for lunch and dinner, but then Murray suffered an illness that forced them to cut back to just dinner hours. And then the pandemic hit, not good for the restaurant business or the theatre, and the Kereliuks had to re-evaluate their future.

“We were just bleeding after that,” said Murray. “Fine dining doesn’t exactly translate to takeout food.

“That’s when we made the decision. We were already talking about it and we slammed the door on it.”

And when one door closed after selling the restaurant, another one opened with the food truck idea that someone had mentioned to them previously.

Kevin Smith from the Antique Barn called “and wanted to see if we wanted to go into that space,” noted Murray.

They jumped at the chance and purchased a former Booster Juice truck, converted it into the Yellow Sub Machine and started doing gourmet subs with side salads.

“People just want something fast out of a food truck,” Murray indicated. “Especially there, all those businesses on Smiley Road, they don’t want to wait a half an hour.”

Many have been ordering ahead and that reduces the wait time even more. Customers can literally pull into the parking lot and pull away with their food a short time later.

“We could still be creative and have fun with it,” said Murray of his specialty subs. “We’ve got no complaints. We’re fairly busy there.”

He feels it’s much better to be at a stationary location than moving around like some food trucks, especially with no events happening due to the pandemic.

“People have been really great,” said Murray. “A lot of our old customers have been coming in.

“It’s the evolution of necessity really, as all these businesses are. Everyone’s had to adapt. It’s not easy. I feel for all those small businesses. You wonder how many are really going to make it.”

The Yellow Sub Machine is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

BusinessFood

 

Murray Kereliuk in his office, preparing subs. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Murray Kereliuk in his office, preparing subs. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Marina and Murray Kereliuk have their Yellow Sub Machine food truck parked outside the Antique Barn on the Trans Canada Highway. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Marina and Murray Kereliuk have their Yellow Sub Machine food truck parked outside the Antique Barn on the Trans Canada Highway. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The sub menu at the Yellow Sub Machine food truck. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The sub menu at the Yellow Sub Machine food truck. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Threatening skies over the Yellow Sub Machine and the Antique Barn. (Photo by Cal Gourlay)

Threatening skies over the Yellow Sub Machine and the Antique Barn. (Photo by Cal Gourlay)

The Yellow Sub Machine stands out beside the Antique Barn in an interesting contrast of colours. (Photo courtesy Bill and Gwen Jahelka)

The Yellow Sub Machine stands out beside the Antique Barn in an interesting contrast of colours. (Photo courtesy Bill and Gwen Jahelka)

Just Posted

Filming of The Baker’s Son in Chemainus. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Bread-making brilliance and mediocrity the recipe for movie ingredients

Willow Street on the map as a prominent location in The Baker’s Son

The return of Community Policing will be a welcome addition by residents. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Return of Community Policing in the works

Volunteers being sought and coordinators to be announced soon

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

These Douglas fir logs were found poached in April on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
Fines in forest reserve could increase significantly after illegal logging

North Cowichan considering fines of up to $50,000

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read