Neither owner has seen the big increases in commerce that were supposed to come after the construction. Latoch sees it as a cost issue - the toll dissuades people from traveling too much - while Habibzadeh believes it tempts potential customers away from Maple Ridge and towards more developed shopping centres in Surrey and Langley.
Either way, both stress the need for perseverance when starting up a small business.
"I'd like to do [another 10 years], but I don't know," said Habibzadeh.
"I'm a person who doesn't like to quit. We keep going; I'm a crazy one."
"You cannot give up," echoed Latoch, who has plans to grow her sandwich shop during the next five years: "If you really care and you want to do something, it'll work."
The beginning of October marked the start of small business month in B.C., and with about 3,300 licenced businesses in Maple Ridge alone, this community is poised to recognize those with the entrepreneurial spirit this week.
But a week of focusing on small businesses may not be enough for people like Mehdi Habibzadeh, owner and head chef of the Greenhouse Bistro and Cafe, who sees the downtown core of Maple Ridge as under-performing.
"Anywhere you go, the heart of downtown [has] a lot of stuff going on. This," he said, gesturing to the quiet sidewalks of 224th Street, "is opposite. After four-or-five o' clock, it's a ghost town."
Habibzadeh and his restaurant have been in the community for 10 years, and in that time he's seen the main thoroughfare of downtown churn through business after business.
The building beside him, alone, has been home to six different shops in the past few years.
"I'm the longest person here.
I've lived through everything," he said. "A lot of businesses here come and go, come and go. They never survive."
One issue is the hours that the surrounding businesses keep, said Habibzadeh.
By closing early, generally around 5 p.m., potential customers are driven away from the area - which means everyone's foot traffic decreases.
His restaurant has also been affected by the shortened parking time limits on 224th Street. He said one of his regulars received two tickets in two weeks, and has since stopped coming.
With high overhead costs and mounting debt, the veteran chef is skeptical about how much longer the bistro can remain open.
He said the municipal council needs to focus on building up Haney Place Mall and attracting more and larger businesses.
Then, the area can compete with the major shopping centres in Coquitlam and over the bridge.
Across the street, in the perpetually busy 4Cats Arts Studio, Aaron Woods is optimistic about the street and the future of his business.
"It's been awesome. Since the first day it's been busy," he said.
The studio, which opened last year, runs art classes for kids, as well as hosting birthday parties on weekends.
For Woods, it was a way to put his and his wife's skills with art and children to use.
"It's a very exciting business and it's always a lot of fun," he said.
Originally, the Woods had planned to open their franchise in Langley, but it was unavailable. However, with easy access to Maple Ridge via the Golden
Ears Bridge, they were able to quickly set up shop.
"We're central," he said of their location on 224th Street.
"We were considering different parts [of the street], but we opted for right in the middle, hoping people would come to us, and so far it's worked out."
Woods said he was aware of the street's reputation for being a business meat grinder, but feels things are changing.
"We seem to be riding the wave of positive thoughts about this street. Everyone seems to think it's changing for the better, and we're a part of that," he said.
Unlike Habibzadeh, Woods has had no problems with the parking limits outside his studio, and the biggest challenges they've faced so far has been too much demand for their services.
Positivity about small business ownership can be felt further west in Pitt Meadows, as well.
The Original Lunch Doctor, a sandwich shop staple of Harris Road, came under new ownership just three months ago and, Bonnie Latoch, the new owner, is pleased with her move.
"I really like it. There's never a dull moment here," she said.
Her first two months we're a bit rocky, as residents were hesitant to accept change to the 30-year-old lunch spot.
Latoch even had to contend with unfounded rumours of drastic menu changes, which made some customers upset.
Persistence and patience were key in winning over the locals.
"Little by little, month by month, it's gotten better," she said. "You just have to try to fit in. They're not going to fit into your business, you have to fit into them."
However, in spite of the gains she sees the shop making, both socially and financially, Latoch has a similar opinion of the Golden Ears Bridge and its effect on businesses on the north end as Habibzadeh.
@ Copyright 2013