Changes On The Drive #133

June 1, 2023


We begin this month with a note that the New York Times has yet again “discovered” Commercial Drive — or at least the bits of the Drive they consider trendy, I guess. They like our “eclectic, rough-edged vibe” and that we are “the epicenter of Vancouver coffee culture.” Businesses getting mentioned include Gateley (1136 Commercial), Dilly Dally (1161 Commercial), Livia (1399 Commercial), and Mum’s The Word (1301 Commercial).

This was also the month in which the Georgia Straight Golden Plate awards for best in Vancouver were announced. There were many Drive establishments that won or placed highly and they are listed at:

The walk on the Drive yesterday was a bit less sunny than I would have liked, and the Drive seems to have reached a stable point where not many changes have occurred.

That being said, the Dollar Grocery at 2210 Commercial appears closed, and the Chic Lash Boutique at 2115 Commercial is now open.

Image: Paisley Woodward

What I had identified last month as a graphics business at 2111 is now open as Dose Wellness. What they do is not entirely clear to me, but I suspect some form of health treatment regime.

At 2096 Commercial, the new Chancho Restaurant gets a rave review.

The storefront at 2057 Commercial seems to be in the process of becoming a Macdonald Realty office.

Image: Paisley Woodward

Hanai Restaurant at 1590 Commercial gets a detailed and positive review here.

There is an interesting profile of Kim Maust who was integral to the development of the apartment/retail complex at Commercial & Charles.

1314 Commercial has now become Larry’s Liquidators. There is also a For Sale sign on the building, so I suspect this is just a pop-up temporary location.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2210 Commercial, 2105 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1108 Commercial, 1027 Commercial.

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

Mural Needed for People’s Co-op Bookstore

May 18, 2023


Many of my readers will know that the People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial has a range of $2 books that they sell from shelves they designed to sit outside the store. The stock is protected each night by wooden shutters which tend to get targeted for graffiti. Some officials have complained about the graffiti and demanded that the store do something about it.

Painting over the graffiti time after time seems a pointless exercise as nothing attracts taggers more than a freshly-painted surface.

Therefore, the store has decided to run a sort of competition to offer the shutters to local artists as a canvas for murals. So, Artists, please let the store know if you have any interest in painting their toonie shelf lids! Email with your ideas to

100 Years Ago Today in Grandview, #9

May 18, 2023


On Friday, 18th May 1923, John Y. Steel received a $3,000 building permit for a new store at 1544 Commercial. Steel had operated a dry goods business at 1584 Commercial since 1918. This image from 1922 shows the empty lot beside the corner block.

Steel had moved into his new building by the spring of 1924 and he stayed there until he sold the business to Frank Frost in 1928. Frost’ Dry Goods was a great success, surviving through Depression and War until April 1953. This image shows the store in 1939.

In the middle 1950s, a greengrocer and a salvage store used the space. But in 1956 it was taken over by Manufacturers’ Outlet flooring until the early 1980s. For most of the time since then, the building has been part of the Kalena Shoe empire.

100 Years Ago Today in Grandview, #8

May 13, 2023


One hundred years ago today it was Mother’s Day and then, as now, flowers were the usual gift for the celebration.

At the time of this ad in the Vancouver Sun, Grandview Florists had been established less than one year. They would stay on the Drive until the mid-1980s. The full history of the Buftons and their flower shop can be found at:


May 6, 2023


The 2023 AGM of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is scheduled for this evening, 6th May, at 6:00pm.

It is a hybrid meeting, taking place in person upstairs at the Canucks Room of the Family Centre by Grandview Park, and online via ZOOM at:

The guest speak is Patrick Condon, the UBC James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments, with his presentation:

 It’s all about the Dirt! Why new density is a good thing, but unfortunately won’t lower prices

If you’d like to get involved with GWAC or join the Board of Directors, please contact GWAC for more info at:

Best in Vancouver, on the Drive

May 4, 2023


The Georgia Straight Golden Plate awards for best in Vancouver have been announced. There were many Drive establishments that won or placed highly and they are mentioned below. The full set of winners can be found at:


Jamjar Restaurant at 2290 was chosen as 2nd best Lebanese restaurant in Vancouver.

JJ Bean, with a branch at 2206 Commercial was voted best coffee chain in the city.

La Grotta di Fromaggio at 1791 Commercial won as best deli in Vancouver.

With a branch at 1752 Commercial, Sal y Limon was chosen as the best Mexican food in the city, and with the 3rd best tacos.

At 1588 Commercial, Dolce Gelato was voted best gelato in Vancouver, and the 2nd best ice cream.

At 1399 Commercial, Livia was voted best bread bakery in Vancouver, and the 3rd best gluten-free bakery.

Memphis Blues at 1342 Commercial was voted 2nd best barbecue in Vancouver.

Oca Pastificio at 1260 Commercial was chosen as 2nd best Italian restaurant in the city, and 3rd best pasta joint.

The Kulinayra Restaurant at 1134 Commercial was voted 2nd best Filipino restaurant in the city.

At 1128 Commercial, Sula was awarded 2nd best Indian restaurant in Vancouver.

The Lunch Lady at 1046 Commercial was voted best overall on the Drive, 2nd best Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver, and 3rd overall in the city.

Bombay Kitchen and Bar at 1018 Commercial was voted 3rd best Indian restaurant and 3rd best takeout place in Vancouver.

East Vancouver Garden Tour

May 3, 2023


Mark your calendar and get your tickets early — the 2023 edition of the East Vancouver Garden Tour will take place on June 18th. As described by the Grandview Garden Club and Britannia Neighbours:

“It’s our one fundraiser for Britannia Neighbours, and the proceeds go to maintaining the Napier Square Greenway (at Napier and Commercial). We use the money we raise to buy plants and supplies and to pay people to water and pick up litter in the Greenway. We’re lucky that we had a bit of cash in the bank as a cushion when Covid struck, so we managed to survive …

Like other years, this year’s tour will be walkable (but won’t be walking distance from Figaro’s). The tour is near Main Street at the western edge of East Van. We are lining up about a dozen delightful gardens for your touring pleasure!

The tour runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but this is not necessarily an event you need to come to right on time. We often get a big rush of people right at 10:00, but there’s no need to hurry. You can come and go as you please. You’ll see exactly the same gardens if you get started at 11:00 or noon or 1:00 or even as late as 2:00! (Do, however, make sure you leave yourself enough time to see all the gardens! We don’t recommend starting the tour after 2:00.)”

Ticket availability and lots more information is available from their website at:

GWAC AGM This Saturday

May 3, 2023


The 2023 AGM of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is scheduled for this coming Saturday, 6th May, at 6:00pm.

It is a hybrid meeting, taking place in person upstairs at the Canucks Room of the Family Centre by Grandview Park, and online via ZOOM at:

The guest speak is Patrick Condon, the UBC James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments, with his presentation:

 It’s all about the Dirt! Why new density is a good thing, but unfortunately won’t lower prices

If you’d like to get involved with GWAC or join the Board of Directors, please contact GWAC for more info at:

Changes On The Drive #132

May 1, 2023


It was wonderful weather to do the walk this morning: not too warm and not too cold.

The double storefront that is 2115-2125 Commercial is being divided. National Massage Chairs will retain 2125, but Chic Lash Boutique will soon open in 2115.

Ever since Tino retired his barbershop at 2111 Commercial in June 2020, we have listed the storefront as vacant. However, we have learned that the space is actually being used by a visual effects company called G Creative.

After a long wait, Chancho Tortilleria has finally opened at 2096 Commercial. It had a soft opening on the weekend of April 15th, and an official opening a week later. Welcome to the Drive!

Image: Scout Magazine

Tierra Latina at 2018 Commercial has a lovely “thank you” sign in the window:

The wonderful Lea Watson, who for many years operated the Canterbury Tales bookstore at 2010 Commercial, has retired. She will be greatly missed. However, the business continues under the new ownership of Nena, whom we welcome to the Drive!

Spin Cycle Laundry at 1910 Commercial was the subject of a very nice piece by Mike McCardell on CTV News:

Lat month we reported on the opening — finally — of Fior di Latte at 1858 Commercial. Well, the name they are using is in fact Il Mundo Caffe & Bakery. It gets a brief opening review here.

Osita at 1728 Commercial gets a good review for live music in Daily Hive.

The re-branding of SuperValu at First & Commercial to Freshmart is just about complete with the new signage.

Staff of Home Hardware at 1575 Commercial were the subject of another Mike McCardell piece on CTV News:

Eric and Allura, the former owners of Fet’s at 1230 Commercial, have confirmed that their space will be taken over by a dentist office in the near future. We have to say that this seems an incredible waste for one of the premier patio locations on the Drive, opposite Grandview Park.

The storefront at 1126 Commercial which has been renovating for a few months has opened as the Guava Vegan Wellness salon.

Next door, at 1124 Commercial, the Lotus House Tattoo Salon and Barber is also now open.

H/t to Colin, Steve and Penny.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2105 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 2057 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1108 Commercial, 1027 Commercial.

It is great to see the number of vacancies trending sharply downwards this year.

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

100 Years Ago Today in Grandview, #7

April 27, 2023


A Major Accident

Friday 27th April 1923 began as an ordinary working day. That afternoon, Drive power-broker and realtor Charles Smith was driving his touring car south on Commercial. He had in the car with him a Mr Wilbrand who was looking for a property, and a Mr. Robinson who seems to have been just along for the ride.

Smith was in the process of turning east on 2nd Avenue when he realized that a large industrial truck was bearing down on them at speed, and that a collision could not be avoided. Smith yanked the car out of the way, but mounted the sidewalk and ran into a number of women talking at the corner. Mrs. Boulton, wife of the storekeeper at Commercial & 1st, was mortally injured and died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

The truck that Smith was trying to avoid — carrying a load of cider barrels for Van Brothers — locked up its wheels as it skidded to avoid the car, grazed the sidewalk causing the barrels to fly though the air. One cider barrel struck Mrs Thomas Fea outside Thomas Cahill’s Grandview Grocery Store, throwing her against a telegraph pole, damaging her back and legs. Another of the barrels hit Smith’s car, leaving a big dent.

Smith was arrested for manslaughter and was released later on $10,000 bail. At the Coroner’s hearing, the police charged that Smith had “tried to beat” the truck to the turn but had miscalculated. The coroner’s jury agreed, placing responsibility for the accident fully on Smith. In May, Smith was committed to trial.

Sources: Province 1923 Apr 28, p.1, 23; 30, p.13; Vancouver Daily World Apr 28, p.2; 30, p.11; May 17, p.9; Sun Apr 29, p.1

Social Justice Day: Mark Your Calendar

April 9, 2023

April 30, Grandview Park

“May Day is an opportunity to come together and  send a powerful message of social justice solidarity. May Day Social Justice Fair, since 2015, is an attempt to bring social justice organizations into closer communication in the hope of building  a larger solidarity network. This needs to be done to build a sustainable future and a just society. 

All social justice organizations are encouraged to participate. Join May Day Social Justice Fair 2023, 1200 block Commercial Drive/Grandview Park.  Bring your own table and chairs and information; talk to people, it is that simple.  See you there. Everyone is welcome.”

For further information see:

Changes On The Drive #131

April 1, 2023


We start this month by noting an article in the Vancouver Sun describing the Drive and Grandview as “a family friendly suburb”. It touches on a wide range of points of interest without digging very deep. A useful survey for those who perhaps don’t know the area too well.

As for changes this month ….

The Haze Smoke Shop at 2245 Commercial is apparently open, but their windows are still papered over.

Chancho is still not yet open at 2096 Commercial, though we have waited quite some months now. Some background to this well-known Yaletown eatery can be found here and here.

The storefront at 2017 Commercial has been taken over by Cafe Des Amis.

There is a very nice review of Audiopile, 2016 Commercial, at TheVinyl Factory. The store is described as “friendly” and “a pleasure for fans of experimental and avant-garde” music.

At long last, Fior Di Latte has opened at 1858 Commercial.

We haven’t mentioned before that 1816 Commercial is now home to a developer’s sales office for The Cut. I believe it was there last month, too.

Osita Restaurant at 1728 Commercial was granted its liquor license at City Council last Thursday.

The customer-and community-friendly 24/7/365 supermarket, SuperValu at 1st and Commercial, is rebranding to Fresh Market. Our understanding is that ownership and staff will stay the same as today.

Hanai at 1590 Commercial celebrated its first anniversary on the Drive at the beginning of March. To celebrate they have begun a Happy Hour series on Thursdays to Mondays.

Sopra Sotto, 1510 Commercial, is celebrating its 5th anniversary on the Drive.

The breakfasts at Livia, 1399 Commercial, get a shoutout in this article.

The building at 1350-1380 Commercial, which houses Rosemary Rock Salt and Famoso Pizzeria has been sold. Arranged by the Altos Group, the sale was for $5,560,000 or $1,150 per square foot, according to an article in the Globe & Mail‘s Report on Business. I believe the seller was Bennis Properties. Interestingly, the property had been listed at $6,800,000 just last year.

As reported earlier, Tamam To Go has sadly closed at 1108 Commercial.

The storefront at 1020 Commercial has been occupied by Mind At Large Medicinals.

Kin Kao, 903 Commercial, gets a good review here.

H/T this month to Penny, Steve, Dorothy, Bill, Eric, and Judy.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2111 Commercial, 2105 Commercial, 2096 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 2057 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1124 Commercial, 1108 Commercial, 1027 Commercial.

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

Parks and Greenspace in Grandview Woodland

March 29, 2023


The next regular meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is at 7:00pm on Monday, 3rd April. The subject is parks and greenspace in our neighbourhood. As they note in their notice of meeting:

“With a growing population in Grandview, we have no new plans for parks or greenspace on the horizon. Join us for a conversation with UBC Landscape Architect Daniel Roehr and our Vancouver Park Board Commissioners.

Come share with us what you need from greenspace – play, calm, sport, relief from the heat. How should new greenspace take shape in Grandview Woodland?”

It will be a ZOOM meeting and the address is:

Transportation on The Drive

March 26, 2023


A reminder of the GWAC meeting at 7:0pm tomorrow (Monday) that will discuss proposals for transportation changes on Commercial Drive.

Join via zoom:

Special GWAC Meeting About Transportation on the Drive

March 22, 2023


Bruce Macdonald: Neighbourhood Treasure

March 21, 2023


In Japan, they designate a select number of senior craftspeople and artisans as Living National Treasures (人間国宝 Ningen Kokuhō.)  Those so honoured are treated with great deference and this indicates the respect that they have earned in their lifetimes in their particular fields.

I have no desire to speak for the rest of Canada, but I do want to suggest that historian Bruce Macdonald be considered and honoured as one of Grandview’s Living Treasures.

Bruce is perhaps best known for authoring the innovative “Vancouver: A Visual History” which told our story in a series of highly detailed and informative maps of each decade.  Filled with useful visuals and careful text, this is one of the primary sources of Vancouver history.  But he has done so much more.

He has written extensively on the History of Grandview, Mount Pleasant, and Kitsilano.  He has composed innumerable numbers of the Vancouver Heritage Plaques that adorn our city, and he has worked with First Nations on ideas for a Salish Sea celebration.  He was a founding member of the Grandview Heritage Group, worked on a series of video interviews with our neighbourhood’s seniors to ensure that their stories are not lost, and he was actively involved in the Our Community, Our Plan movement.

Bruce is a fine guy and I am honoured to call him my friend.

100 Years Ago Today In Grandview, #6

March 19, 2023


The First Bus

Monday 19th March 1923 saw the first running of motor buses as scheduled units within the BC Electric system. It seems self-evident to us today that the bus would eventually take over the role in transit that streetcars used to serve. But in 1923, this was still a new and exciting development, allowing better access to and from Grandview and Hastings Townsite. The Province raved that the new service had been “awaited with keen interest” in Grandview.

The first route of this extension began at Broadway & Commercial, travelled SE along Grandview Highway to 13th Avenue and then on to Renfrew to 22nd and along 22nd to Rupert. One bus handled the service in the beginning, but a second bus would enter service later.

The two buses each cost $7,500 to purchase and a total of $20,000 to put on the road. The company made great efforts to ensure everyone was aware that the buses were part of the BC Electric fleet; each car is furnished inside and out in the same style as the company’s streetcars, and ticketing and transfers were the same as the rest of the system. Each bus was rated for 35 passengers, with 21 seated and 14 standing.


Sources: Province 1923 Jan 16, p. 13; Feb 17, p.5; Mar 9, p. 14; Mar 16, p.4; Vancouver Daily World Jan 10, p.2, 3; Mar 19, p.9; Apr 4, p.9; Sun, Mar 19, p.11

The Karenization of Zawa’s

March 9, 2023


My email is filled this week with notices that Zawa Restaurant at 920 Commercial is being taken over for a short period in May by a group called Karen’s Diner. Their schtick — copied from experiences decades ago in London and Paris — is to have the servers be rude to the diners. There is a cover charge of $55.

It is no surprise they chose Zawa for their local experiment because it has been possible for many years now to go to Zawa’s and have the owner be rude to you without a cover charge (see here and here).

Huge Rent Increase Means Loss to the Drive

March 5, 2023


Tanam To-Go, the Palestinian restaurant at 1108 Commercial, has only been part of the neighbourhood for a short while but has already proven itself popular. However, it will close at the end of this month because the landlord has decided to raise the rent from $40 per square foot to $61 — an increase of more than 50%.

“How do they expect small businesses to survive let alone making money? Goodbye Commercial Drive,” wrote the business owner.

Perhaps we need rent control to help these small businesses. Perhaps the BIA could weigh in on the issue, though I won’t hold my breath on that.

GWAC and the Missing Middle Housing

March 2, 2023