Changes On The Drive #77

January 1, 2018

What a gorgeous winter’s day it was this morning. Perhaps a little cold for my taste, but bright and sharp.

Two of the three new storefronts in the 2200-block westside are still vacant. There is still a sign at 2283 advertising the opening of a currency exchange, but little or no work seems to have been done to it yet.

The new storefronts at 2080-2086 are still not ready for leasing and so do not yet appear on my “Vacant” list. I have been calling this a two storey building (because that’s the way it seems from the exterior) but I now suspect they are one storey with high clearance and clerestory-style windows.  That would at least match the development permit sign that was there many months ago.

Now that it is fully open, Spade at 1858 Commercial attracted a good review from the Daily Hive. The restaurant will also be hosting the first live on location broadcast for CBC Radio’s The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn as the new host. They’ll be at Spade from 5:00am to 8:30am on January 5th.


The Babylon Tea Company is finally open at 1740 Commercial.  We’ve been waiting for months for this.


The queso fundido at Mezcaleria, 1622 Commercial, was highly recommended in the Georgia Straight.   The restaurant also made it to Honourable Mention in Scout’s Top 25 Restaurants of the Year (nothing else on the Drive was even mentioned.)

At 1666 Graveley (still part of the Il Mercato building) that for decades was a wine-brewing place has received both a development permit and a business license to operate a cannabis dispensary as Farmacia.


What used to be the Abruzzo Cafe at 1321 Commercial is now the Toscani Coffee Bar. Ownership changed some time ago and perhaps the name did too; but I just noticed it in December.  I notice that their outside menu changed a little after I posted my picture of it. I rather preferred its previous originality.

The new Filipino restaurant, Kulinarya, at 1134 Commercial is now open. My quick review is here.

Moja at 1102  is the only Commercial Drive coffee shop on the list of Scout’s top 25 work-friendly cafes. Odd that. I also note that the tree beside Moja on Napier is now protected. That usually means building in their parking lot is probably about to start.


Although 631 Commercial is outside the usual geographic boundary of these reports, it seems impossible to leave a discussion about the Drive in December 2017 without mentioning the closing of Nicks’ Spaghetti House, a neighbourhood icon since 1955.  Nick Felicella opened a small coffee shop in that year and it quickly grew and morphed into one of the most popular traditional Italian eateries anywhere in Vancouver. I heard a rumour that the building owner refused a lease extension, while Nick talks tactfully about “moving on.”   Whatever the reason, Nick’s will be sorely missed. According to a later report, another restaurant is already booked to take its place.


Vacant or closed on the Drive this month:  2285 (7 months), 2283 (7 months), 2266 (2 months), 1801 (12 months), former Strawberry Bakery in Il Mercato (36 months), 1500 (13 months), 1303 (14 months), 1268 (4 months), 1108 (43 months), and 956 Commercial (3 months).


Previous Changes On the Drive editions.

Image: Hanging Gardens

January 1, 2018

Driving Right-eously

January 1, 2018

Today is the 96th anniversary of the change in British Columbia from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right.  I think quite a lot of Vancouver drivers are still learning about this.



Vancouver World 1922 Jan 3, p.1

Poem: December 31, 2000

January 1, 2018


In a bus line

in the heart of the city,

in a hailstorm thrusting silver shards of icy glass

deep into the concrete earth,

a woman holds a little Japanese baby

the colour of Cadbury’s

Dairy Milk Chocolate.


Asleep in peace,

his little fingers wave in the air like

undulating undersea fronds.

Beneath the coloured threads and protective fibres

of his logoed rainsuit,

no fever shakes the young child’s bones,

no distrust disturbs the sleep of purity,

no threats or worries fly about

in his head so full of wonder and learning.


In this child’s dreams lies the promise

Of the new year.