Changes On The Drive #68

It was another beautiful day to go walking this morning as the rain stayed away, having drained itself in torrents overnight.

Staring as usual down at the southern end of the Drive, I noticed that the former Kingdom Beauty store at 2277 Commercial has been given a bright new coat of paint and looks very smart.  Peering inside, where workmen continue a major reno, it looks like it is to be a restaurant or a food store with a serving counter.


Across the street, the 77K Freeze shop is now open. That space had been vacant for over a year and a half and it is good to see it being used. I was sorely tempted to try some ice cream but I was already full from the lemon ricotta pancakes I made for breakfast.


What used to be Charley and Jean Russell’s old house and garden at 2084 Commercial is now being built upon. It looks like two storefronts are going in there.


North one block, I notice that the Barefoot Contessa clothing store at 1928 has morphed into The Precious and Few consignment outlet.  The sign calls it a “popup shop” so I don’t know if this is permanent.

The Waves Coffee shop on the corner of Third at 1858 Commercial has closed. It always seemed busy when I walked by, so this was something of a surprise.  Also still vacant are 1801 (vacant 2 months), 1740 (6 months), and 1735 (2 months).  The Bubble Tea store promised for 1706 Commercial is still not open (4 months).

In Il Mercato, the former Strawberry Bakery site still languishes in vacancy after 27 months.  Also still closed is the Libra Room at 1608. The “opening soon” signs have been there for all the 8 months it has been closed.

The MOSAIC services organization, upstairs at 1522, is moving this summer to new offices in South Vancouver. I am not sure if there will still be an office here at that time.  I wrote to them about it, but have received no response.

Caffe Roma, which has graced the corner of Grant and Commercial since 1990 seems finally to have closed. As I have catalogued in previous Changes, it changed names last year to the Grant Street Social Club and then back again to Roma, before mechanical issues with the plumbing (I am told) forced it to shut down 5 months ago. They have had “Opening Soon” signs on the windows for a few months but now there is a new sign indicating a new owner.

Just what the Drive needs is another pizza place!  I’m guessing this one won’t be competing with the by-the-slice joints but rather against Famoso, Lombardo’s and Marcello’s.

Across the street, the Charlatan at 1447 Commercial is still closed “for renovations” (2 months). However, no work seems to have been done on it so far as one can see.

The Merchant’s Oyster bar at 1590 Commercial has a new name and new menu.  It is now called Merchant’s Workshop with “experimental” menus on Mondays. I wonder if this has anything to do with the disaster that is sweeping the BC shellfish industry this year.

Next door at 1588, Dolce Amore continues to amaze.  I heard that the owner recently went to Italy for “Gelato University”.  This was a decadent late lunch yesterday …

… rhubarb pie and mascarpone gelato. Wow, seriously good stuff!

The storefront at 1408 is still not open (8 months) but they have a sign on the canopy indicating that a new restaurant — Bao Down on the Drive — really is going to open soon.

At 1376, where Bikes on the Drive had the double storefront, the shopfitting seems to be nearly complete after a 3 month vacancy, and there is a sign for Rosemary Rocksalt Bagels. Although both storefronts seem to have been re-fitted, I am still not sure if the bagel place is taking both or just one, though I tend to think it will be a single.


Still vacant are 1303 (6 months), 1104 (an astounding 35 months), 952 (7 months vacant, but with everything still in the store), and 902 (23 months).  In the last-named, it looks as if Robin’s Pharmacy has given up on expanding into the space as there is a new For Lease sign prominently displayed.

To end on positive notes:  the recently-opened and even more recently closed Ramen place at 1179 Commercial has rapidly changed into a new restaurant, Thai Basil …


… and Watermelon, of the Licorice Parlour at 1002, has opened a second store on Granville Island. Well done!


Previous Changes on the Drive editions


6 Responses to Changes On The Drive #68

  1. pennystreet546 says:

    Love your “Changes” every month. Rosemary and Rock Salt is allegedly opening on April 15th! They were giving out free samples yesterday. :-) Another competitor of the new pizza place is Via Tevere (line ups every night!). We’ll see how good it is. xoP


  2. Jak, have you any idea what’s going in to the former Inconvenience Store space, on the left-hand (south) side of Donald’s? I am guessing that Donald’s is expanding into it. Inside the empty space, the renovations seem to include a door, which could only open into Donald’s, since there’s no room for anything on that side inside the space. All of Donald’s other locations are vastly bigger than the Drive store, so I’m sure they want more room. The current store is so tightly designed that it is actually a major pain to shop there, which I do very seldom, for that reason, despite Donald’s eclectic selection. I bet you can find out what’s happening there.
    Speaking of the Inconvenience Store: for many years, it was the worst “corner store” in the world. Basically they just sold cigarettes and lottery tickets, and they had an ever-thinning display of old and unwanted groceries on a few of their shelves. I don’t know what special kind of incompetence it takes to make a bust of a store that should surely have a ready demand for it. A couple of years ago, I tried to buy an ice-cream bar and a bottle of pop, and they wanted to charge me $10. Maybe that’s a clue.

    • jakking says:

      I’ll see what I can find out. Thanks for the comment!

    • jakking says:

      I went to Donald’s this morning and spoke with “a manager”. He was not aware of any plans to expand. I also had a good look inside the old Food Store and it seems they are creating two separate storefronts, with a wall between. They will need to create a new door, but the work seems at any early stage.

  3. Mike Zepf says:

    Any idea what’s transpiring with the fraudulent scumbag that runs Black Dog Video, who blatantly lied in an Indiegogo campaign to “Save Black Dog” over two years ago? He and his wife collected just over $11,000 dollars from “donors”, then embarked on a 5 month ‘vacation’ to Turkey and many other points East. He wisely deleted all posts from that period on the Black Dog Blog, in order to cover his tracks – like most scumbag fraudsters with something to hide. Unfortunately, his ‘partner’ in scummery is sleazy bibliophile Tammi Setala, who still has her fingerprints on various travel websites for that period.

    Gay’s (Darren – the owner, according to records) the same clown who magically found money to invest in a Commercial Drive location back in 2007, even though video stores were collapsing left and right and the stretch of Cambie Street his original store was located on was ‘under duress’ due to the Canada Line construction. Weird – right? He magically finds money to invest in a business whose model is collapsing all over the place. Could be the ‘free movie’ trick, where you take the cash and ring it in as a ‘free’ rental, but a better guess as to what keeps the scumbag’s store afloat is all the money he’s laundering from biker gangs back east. The same ones that have allowed him to buy the East Vancouver property and send his kid to private school. A loathsome, tax-evading, lying piece of shit business owner – right in your neighbourhood!

    Also – any idea why do so many business owners on the Drive act like scum? Lots of ‘leftish’ political posturing, but when’s the last time you saw any one of them hiring the many First Nations kids whose families live nearby?

  4. James Garry says:

    Jak, appreciate the updates. Thanks!

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