I did the walk yesterday morning, to try to avoid the rain. I wasn’t so lucky! But at least it wasn’t desperately cold. There are remarkably few changes this month which shows some stability on the Drive. Luckily there is lots of news and coverage to report.
On the no-longer-new storefront at 2285 Commercial, there is still a sign advertising a Currency Exchange to be opened in the site, but it is still vacant at this time.
The biggest change is that the newly built storefronts in the 2000-block are now available and all four are, according to the signs, already leased. That’s good news and it will be interesting to see what goes in there. But, until they are actually filled, they will put a blip in the vacancy charts.
Prado Cafe at 1938 Commercial is one of only two places on the Drive that makes it into the Daily Hive’s list of the best places to have a Tinder date. See below for the other one.
One of the mainstays of the Drive, Cafe Calabria, 1745 Commercial, gets a nice mention from chef Alessandro Vianello in Scout this month. “The coffee is fast, on point, and with no ego attached. Plus I love going in and speaking Italian with Frank and his sons. It really makes me feel like I’m in Italy having coffee with my Dad.”
Across the street, Federico’s Supper Club is still welcoming the world with his Merry Christmas sign.
Darcy Houser is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his owning the SuperValu at First & Commercial. I used to live just behind it on Graveley in the 1990s and the store was a mess; dirty, and with the worst selection of produce on the Drive. Now, it is clean and modern and just a great friendly place to shop with some of the most helpful staff around. Darcy and his manager Dwayne have a lot to be proud of. When he was interviewed on CBC Radio at the beginning of January, Darcy noted that they had just suffered a massive 30% rent increase.
Mezcaleria at 1622 Commercial got some more press this month, with an interesting story of its history on Scout. They explain the 9 month delay in opening (see Changes #1 through 18) was caused by the delays in getting an electrical upgrade.
The former oyster bar that is now Merchant’s Workshop at 1590 Commercial gets a rave review in Vancouver Magazine this month. “The best neighbourhood restaurants are almost an extension of your own home: welcoming, casual and comfortable—all three a check, check, check for Merchant’s Workshop.”
The Stormcrow Tavern at 1305 Commercial is the second Drive space rated to be great for Tinder dates.
Just around the corner from the Drive at 1704 Charles, the new art gallery has closed. However, a sign on the window says that the “Art Off Main” gallery is due to open in March.
One of our other longtime mainstays, which now operates under the Fet’s Whiskey Kitchen name at 1230 Commercial, started the month with great publicity as Canada’s whiskey mecca. However, by the end of the month it was well known as the site of a Prohibition-Era-style raid by BC government agents. It appears to be a bureaucratic piece of nonsense that has, nonetheless, cost one of our most community-minded merchants a great deal of money.
Right next door to Fet’s, the Havana Restaurant is planning major changes.
We will be losing the art gallery space but they plan to keep the wonderfully intimate theatre behind the eating area.
Unfortunately, we have to close with sad news. The quirky clothing store Rabbit & Empee has quit its space at 1044 and the store is now vacant.
Vacant or closed on the Drive this month: 2285 (8 months), 2283 (8 months), 2082 (1 month), 2084 (1 month), 2286 (1 month), 2286 (1 month), 1803 (13 months), former Strawberry Bakery in Il Mercato (37 months), 1500 (14 months), 1303 (15 months), 1268 (5 months), 1108 (43 months), 1044 (1 month), 956 (4 months).
Previous Changes on The Drive editions