Changes On The Drive #21

April 30, 2013

It was a bit windy still this morning, but really it was a glorious spring day to walk down the Drive.

The still-being-renovated Far East Building between 6th and 7th doesn’t look close to being finished yet, but they are already advertising a retail outlet on the corner of 7th (where the Van East Cinema used to be) for $48 per sq.foot net.

Among new vacancies this month is the suddenly closed Fresh Slice Pizza shop at 1268.  I say suddenly because it was just advertized for sale at $140,000.  I guess they either sold or couldn’t hang on for a sale as a going concern.  As previewed last month, Ten Thousand Villages at 1204 is also newly vacant.

Older vacancies include 1181 (previously Spank’s Shoes) and 1044 which was Ewaz but is now looking like a junk store with  odd bits and pieces for sale in the window.  The south-side interior of Il Mercato mall is also still empty and, frankly, looking grim.  To help the business owners on the north side of the interior you’d think the mall owner might paper the vacant windows or something.

Closing but not yet vacant  is the Small World Store and Gallery at 2120 Commercial.

small world

There are a number of other Drive businesses for sale this month. These include:


  • Timbre at 2068, on sale for a whopping $299,000!  The lease is about $7,000 per month;


I hear that the Little Nest, just off the Drive on Charles Street, is also struggling after a huge increase in their rent.

On a more positive note, the space at 1748 that has been vacant a few months has now been filled by Lala’s On the Drive, which seems to be an upscale version of Wonderbucks across the street.


Could this be another step in the boutiquization of Commercial Drive?

Mexcal in the 1600-block has also finally opened.  They got a review of their tequilas in the Sun today.

Also newly opened, at 1046 where Tony’s Deli used to dwell, is Five Elements.

five elements

This is operated by the same folks who successfully managed the Mekong Restaurant here for more than a decade.  The new place seems to be a lot more than just a Vietnamese restaurant though.

In its third incarnation — Fettucine’s Cafe to Fet’s Bar & Grill to, now, Fet’s Whiskey Kitchen — the always popular and always inviting home of the Fergie clan is re-opening tonight at 1230 Commercial after major renovations.  There will a separate post about the new restaurant, but for those with a nostalgic bent, here are the three logos they have used over the past twenty seven years on the Drive:

Fets logos


Finally, I notice that Joe Antunes has decided to take a stand against the folks who hang out against the south wall of Joe’s Cafe.  He has published on his windows a letter he has written to the city:

joe's notice


[I want to thank my friend David for keeping his eye out for the real estate listings and passing them on to me.]

See previous Changes on The Drive editions


R.I.P. Lily

April 29, 2013

This morning, quite suddenly, our 13-year old cat, Lily, just upped and died.   She seemed normal enough when I got up this morning but, while lying quietly at my feet as I worked at the computer, she let out a fearful yelp and died within a minute.

Lily 1 copy

She was the most gorgeous pure-white Maine coon cat, and she will be greatly missed.

Clockwork Universe — A Fabulous Opening!

April 29, 2013

Last night the Drive was treated to perhaps the most interesting and well-attended art opening for many years.  This was the steampunk extravaganza called Clockwork Universe curated by Famous Empty Sky at the Havana Gallery and Theatre.

The intimate little space was jam-packed with people, well over a hundred, many of whom wore fabulous costumes in honour of the theme.

show1 copy

show2 copy

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There was a spectacular set of theatrical performances, there was wine, there was excellent conversation.  And the artwork was wonderful, too!

show5 copy

These examples include puppet figures by Diane Wood (with part of Harry Grunsky’s gallery-wide frieze above), “Normal Waking Consciousness Is Entirely Different” by Famous Empty Sky, and “Visionary” by Solange Belleforte.   There are many more fine works on the walls and they will be showing until May 7th.

A perfect Drive event.  Brava!

Perfect Day For Chores

April 27, 2013

Laundry, ironing (all my summer shirts in expectation of something good on the way), and baking bread — perfect activities to use up a wet grey day!

bread 1

Life is pretty darned good.

Dim Sum Special

April 26, 2013

Friday mornings are a very fine time to eat dim sum.  To be honest, any morning is a good time but somehow Fridays seem especially good; the weekend crowds aren’t there so the service is even more attentive than usual and, of course, there is no waiting.  As for the quality of the food, Western Lake is superb any day and any time.

dim sum 1

As usual, I was just too hungry to take a picture before we started in on the feast.  Here we have already had some of the sui mai and the squid with salt and garlic.  What can I say?  It was just too good.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

April 25, 2013

Today would have been my father’s birthday.  He’s been gone more than thirteen years now, but I still miss him.

I miss him especially when I notice that I am becoming him, in small ways — what I like to eat, the way I sit, some speech patterns, some mannerisms.  I am sure that neither he nor I would ever have believed we would converge in this way; we lived so very different lives.

He was always there for me, no matter how much he disagreed with things I’d said or done.  He was always there.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Mark The Spark

April 24, 2013

The current issue of Megaphone — that’s the bi-weekly journal sold by homeless and other disadvantaged folks — has a good profile of Mark (“the Spark”) Irvine who sells the paper everyday at Commercial and Grant.

I urge you to buy a copy.  The paper is an interesting read, is only two bucks, and it really helps the sellers.