Joe’s Grill: A Quick Review

July 20, 2017

It was happenstance that I bumped into a good friend outside Joe’s Grill yesterday, just an hour or so after they had opened up for their first day of business on the Drive. Having brunch at the new place seemed a natural.

Joe’s Grill already has three locations in Vancouver, on Denman, Davie, and Main. For their Commercial Drive location they have slotted into a space on the east side of the 900-block that has a less than illustrious history for restaurants; it has been vacant for 10 months since Nonna’s failed after just a few months of business following a previous 10 months of vacancy since the earlier failure of Adeline’s.

The interior of the space has been modified somewhat, making it much more appealing and open than it was before; it felt comfortable and welcoming. It still has the lovely patio, where we chose to eat on what was another fine summer’s day.  Service was excellent: prompt, efficient, and courteous. That could be a challenge on a restaurant’s first day, but they managed it well.

The menu is standard breakfast and lunch fare. The Commercial Drive location hasn’t made it to their website yet, so I have linked to the menu on Davie Street.  However, the Drive menu seemed shorter, with less choices. My friend had corned beef hash and scrambled eggs; his looked good and he declared himself satisfied with it. I had the classic eggs benny, my usual test for a diner.  Mine came with country fried potatoes. The benny was fine — the egg cooked exactly to my specifications — but, as is usual in many breakfast joints, the hollandaise was a little bland, as if they forgot there was supposed to be lemon juice in it.

With coffee and tip, but without toast, my breakfast came to about $16. This is about the same as Zawa’s, the Euro Cafe, or the Tangent. The everloving and I usually spend about $20 for two breakfasts with toast and coffee at Skylight and their portions are bigger (as they are, too, at the Tangent for example).  But it is a nice place and the patio is a real plus.

Joe’s Grill’s timing for their opening is both good and potentially bad. Good because the Skylight in the next block is closed for vacations for the next few weeks; I am certain that many of Skylight’s regulars, like me, will give the new place a try during that time.  Potentially bad news is that the Bosa’s store next door to Joe’s will close in September when their rebuilt store on Victoria re-opens. Joe’s will lose the foot traffic that Bosa brings to that corner, and they will have to hope both that another restaurant chain doesn’t take the large space then available or that the double-wide vacancy doesn’t bring a sense of desolation.

My friend and I were the only customers when we arrived but by the time we left the place was quite busy. I wish them well!

The Roses Again!

July 19, 2017

Every year since 2012, I have noted the appearance of pink roses at or near the top of a fairly tall tree at Adanac and Commercial. I was worried this year because I had not seen them and the vines seemed a bit more tattered than usual as they wound their way up the trunk. But today they were there in full force!

[select image for a larger view]

This year, indeed, there are more than usual — at least nine blossoms that I can count; and more widely spread across the tree.

Simple pleasures.

What If They Gave A Party ….

July 16, 2017

… and no-one showed up?  That was kind of what it was like at Grandview Park this afternoon.

Today was the first of three Sundays In the Park events that the Commercial Drive Business Development Society (the local BIA) are organising this summer. I am pleased they are taking this initiative but clearly they need to work on their promotion of the festivities.  The event was scheduled for 1 pm to 4 pm and there were, perhaps, less than forty people in the Park at three this afternoon.

I don’t recall seeing any posters for the event on the Drive. I did see some notice in Twitter earlier this week, but that was it.  The weather was perfect — a touch cooler than earlier this week, and with a splendid breeze — and the patios on the Drive were full and bustling with business, but this Zoomba and Salsa party didn’t attract the attention it may have deserved.

Another Take on Commercial Drive Vacancies

July 10, 2017

As readers of this site will be aware, I have been exercised lately about the number of vacancies on the Drive and, more particularly, the length of time some of these vacancies continue.  At the beginning of this month, we had three stores that have been vacant for more than a year, two for more than two years, and one for more than three years. There seems to be no activity on any of these long-term empty stores.

I mentioned this issue to the local BIA and their response was that this was a “global phenomenon” and so, I suppose, out of their hands.

During Car Free Day on Sunday I chatted with the owner of a small storefront in the heart of the Drive that has been empty for nine months. He told me they haven’t had any luck finding a suitable tenant: “And we are only asking $4,500 a month — the going rate.”

There was it seems to me, no thought on what might actually be needed to attract a tenant, maintain the space, pay taxes and mortgages — just that $4,500 was “the going rate.” There was also no appreciation that $4,500 is proving to be the going rate for keeping the store empty and revenue-less.

I’m no economist but none of this makes any sense to me.

The Barrenness of Choices

July 10, 2017

The half-block of Commercial Drive running north from Napier used to be a bright  busy space with Drive Organics, a hairdresser and a tattooist as I recall.  Today, that entire half-block has been taken over by Choices grocery and they have turned it into a desert.

Part of the true joy of Commercial Drive is the narrow storefronts, each one different from the next, and each one contributing its share of colour and life and vibrancy to the street and the neighbourhood. Choices defies all those good aspects of urban life, with a very long store, with opaque windows (so even the activity inside is hidden), and a featureless exterior. There are no eyes on the street, there is no activity, there is no fun here, it is a bleak wilderness.

And it is so easy to deal with: it is a produce store, for goodness sakes, and so perfect for street-side carts and tables filled with colourful fruits and vegetables and anything else they want to sell, You just have to look at Normans or Triple A or Donald’s to see how it is done.  It is not rocket science, but I get the feeling that Choices doesn’t really care: it is a business divorced from its community.  That may be why I never shop there.

My Position on Density in Grandview

July 9, 2017

I am sick and tired of people like Ken Paquette, shill for the Boffo Tower group, and the Abundant Housing people lying about my position on density on my neighbourhood.  Their intellectual integrity is shot all to hell when they simply make things up for their own profit.

I am going to be very clear here so that even small-minded bigots can understand. These positions are my own and do not pretend to represent anyone or any group outside of myself.

  • I both understand and agree with the need for additional density in Grandview.
  • I believe that a doubling, or even more, of density can be achieved certainly without towers, and actually without any building above four storeys;
  • Lot owners currently with SFH or duplexes should be allowed and encouraged (by a reduction in the City’s expensive development procedures) to have three housing units on each lot. This would generally be two suites in the main house and a laneway or similar building.
  • Lot owners of two- or three-storey apartments buildings should be encouraged and even incentivized to add another storey. This is significantly cheaper as land costs are eliminated. Obviously this will not work for some buildings but it would work (as explained to me by professional engineers) for many.
  • No new building above four storeys should be allowed.  Given the increased density allowed by the above, towers would only be required to feed the profits of the developers and, of course, their shills.

The massive increases in density allowed under these proposals mean that Grandview can double in population size while retaining the beautiful human scale residential areas and streetscapes that we have.

Let me repeat, these proposals are mine alone. I do not profess to speak for others.  But those who claim I stand for anything else are nothing but mucky liars.


Car Free Day!

July 9, 2017

Today was Car Free Day on the Drive, and I spent all afternoon crewing the Grandview Heritage Group’s booth. Thank goodness it was a bit cooler today, and with a very pleasant breeze throughout.

It it always encouraging to see how many people are interested in our local history and heritage, and it makes the work involved thoroughly worthwhile.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and chatted!