Changes On The Drive #116

April 1, 2021

I had hoped that this would be the turnaround month, when things started to look up for businesses on the Drive. And it is true that there are a number of new signs and canopies for businesses opening soon (see below). However, Dr. Henry’s news this week that all restaurants are banned from in-door dining until April 19 has left a lot of places suddenly closed yet again. That being said, yesterday, when I did the walk, was warm and sunny and all the patios were busy and several places (Fets, Havana, the Social, and Park Drive, for example) were rapidly expanding their patios onto the sidewalks and into the street.

Grounds for Coffee at 2088 Commercial gets a shout out for their “legendary” cinnamon buns.

The storefront at 1848 is still vacant but is soon to be a Liberty Tax outlet, giving some competition to H&R Block.

For some months now, Cannibal Cafe has been advertising the possibility of expanding next door to 1816 Commercial to open a Motherclucker’s Chicken place. But I see this month there is a new For Lease sign on the door, so perhaps they have give up on that idea.

La Grotta del Formaggio at 1791 Commercial is unsurprisingly listed as one of the seven best cheese shops in Vancouver.

What used to be a Starbucks at 1752 Commercial is still vacant, but the sign says a new Mexican Restaurant — Sol y Limon — will be opening soon.

At 1740 Commercial, the storefront is still vacant, but a new canopy suggests a furnishings doo-dads store is about to grace us with its presence.

At 1678 Commercial there is a new sign advertising the coming of Vancity Fried Chicken, though the store is still vacant right now.

The former Libra Room at 1608-12 Commercial is getting a complete make-over externally in preparation for opening as a Greek restaurant (?).

Where Ugly Dumplings is now, at 1590 Commercial, there used to be Merchant’s Workshop. Scout magazine has a fond look back at the place where chefs used to like to hang out.

Memphis Blues at 1342 Commercial is looking for all kinds of staff: supervisors, line cooks, bartenders, etc. That’s a welcome sign in these covid-depressed times.

Also receiving great reviews for their cinnamon buns is Livia’s at 1339 Commercial.

The haphazardly-occupied storefront at 1303 Commercial is now a store called Velveteen Vintage.

The large double-front at 1005 Commercial is soon to be the home of Turnabout Luxury Resale, a designer consignment store.

The team behind Kin Kao at 903 Commercial are working on opening a second location at 317 E. Broadway in Mount Pleasant. The team and the name will be the same, but the menu will be completely different. “Tang and the core kitchen crew are being given the green light to do completely new things, retooling family recipes and tweaking regional specialities. The drinks program will also be different, with cocktails and wine making playing larger roles.”

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I still haven’t called Penelope’s at 1009 vacant, but it has been covid-closed now for a full year

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (4 months vacant), 2277 (21 months), 2223 (25 months), 2111 (11 months), 2057 (4 months), 1848 (2 months), 1816 (11 months), 1752 (14 months), 1748 (8 months), 1740 (20 months), 1733 (6 months), 1728 (12 months), 1678 (7 months), 1608-12 (15 months), 1503 (4 months), 1305 (12 months), 1301 (6 months), 1206 (6 months), 1003 (14 months), 935 (14 months), 931 (9 months), 902 (6 months).

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #115

February 27, 2021

I did the walk on Saturday, the last of the sunny Spring days for a while I suspect. I am glad to say the Drive was really busy, with most of the patios full for lunch. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for no new openings and two new large closures.

The biggest new closure of the month (by size at least) is the closing of the BCC Ethical Financing company in the storefront at 1848 Commercial. It seems that the upstairs offices of Terra Housing are also closed.

The Bench Bakehouse at 1641 Commercial (inside the mall) has been advertizing for an experienced operations manager.

The former Libra Room at 1608 Commercial is still but a distant memory, but I understand the double-front is being renovated for a new place; perhaps a Greek restaurant? During the work, the new owners uncovered a sign for the Windows Bakery that closed at that site in 1950. I hope they find some way to use that sign in their new display.

The Ugly Dumpling at 1590 Commercial is featured in a spread about take out foods. They recommend the omakase.

Image: Scout magazine

The storefront at 1507 Commercial is still vacant but the new canopy suggests it is going to be yet another cell phone shop.

Livia at 1399 Commercial is good at drawing crowds and attracting media. The bread baker there is Sabine Thorson, and she gets a good feature in Scout magazine this month.

The other big upcoming closure is of the Arcane Tattoo and Piercing shop at 1115 Commercial. They have been on the Drive for about eight years but their sign says they are moving to Gastown.

I still haven’t called Penelope’s at 1009 vacant, but it has been closed now for a very long time.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (3 months vacant), 2277 (20 months), 2223 (24 months), 2111 (10 months), 2057 (3 months), 1848 (1 month), 1816 (10 months), 1752 (13 months), 1748 (7 months), 1740 (19 months), 1733 (5 months), 1728 (11 months), 1678 (6 months), 1608 (14 months), 1503 (3 months), 1305 (11 months), 1303 (5 months), 1301 (4 months), 1206 (5 months), 1003 (12 months), 935 (13 months), 931 (8 months), 902 (5 months).

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #114

February 3, 2021

This month’s report has been delayed for a few days due to the inclement weather and the frailty of your correspondent. But here we are! I did the walk this morning and it was the most gorgeous sunny winter’s day: I’m glad I waited. Unfortunately, the state of the Drive is not as bright as the day, with no new openings but no further closings either.

The Benchhouse Bakery, inside Il Mercato Mall at 1641 Commercial, gets a great review for its caramelized onion sourdough bread.

La Mezcaleria at 1622 Commercial gets a shout out from Scout Magazine for its flight of margarita miniatures.

Image: La Mezcaleria

The former Libra Room at 1608 Commercial is still vacant and boarded up. However, I saw some work going on there on the weekend so maybe there is some hope for a new place?

What used to be the Euro Café at 1468 Commercial has morphed into a Vietnamese café called Mercie Beaucoup. (My apologies for the quality of this image).

At Livia, 1399 Commercial, the buckwheat and oat sourdough is said to be delicious.

The former Andy’s Bakery at 935 Commercial is still vacant, but there is now a sign on the door for a new bakery. No work seems to have been done on the interior though, so far as I could see.

What was the last remaining house on the Drive at 928 Commercial is now in the process of being re-developed. The entire front of the building (Commercial Drive side) has been removed, but the rear (backs onto the lane) is still standing.

I still haven’t called Penelope’s at 1009 vacant, but it has been closed now for a very long time.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (2 months), 2277 (vacant 19 months), 2223 (23 months), 2111 (9 months), 2057 (2 months), 1814 (9 months), 1752 (12 months), 1748 (6 months), 1740 (18 months), 1733 (4 months), 1728 (10 months), 1678 (5 months), 1608 (13 months), 1503 (2 months), 1305 (10 months), 1303 (4 months), 1301 (3 months), 1206 (4 months), 1003 (11 months), 935 (12 months), 931 (7 months), 902 (4 months).

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #113

January 1, 2021

Between rainstorms, much of yesterday was perfect weather for walking and it was good to get out and stretch my legs. Unfortunately, much of the walk was a depressing stroll between vacant storefronts — an imperfect end to an imperfect year.

At the far south end, I noticed that the Currency Exchange business at 2283 Commercial seems to have closed, and the space in front of their store has been taken over by the grocery store next door by what looks like a semi-permanent display.

The denturist office at 2057 Commercial which has been operating on the Drive since the 1950s has now closed. They have moved to a space on Renfrew Street.

Cowboys has now opened at 1875 Commercial, but the Columbus Travel Agency at 1503 Commercial has closed.

The recently-opened Cell Doctor store at 1433 Commercial now has a new canopy.

The former Beckwomans at 1314 has now opened as a fashion boutique.

There is an interesting article in Monetcristo magazine that is mainly about the new branch of Sula restaurant in Mount Pleasant, but it has a welcome amount of information about the owners and chefs who maintain their first Sula at 1128 Commercial Drive.

The Lunch Lady at 1046 Commercial is the only restaurant on the Drive to make the Daily Hive’s best new restaurants of 2020 list.

The storefront at 931 Commercial is still not open, but the anticipated Covid Cafe looks like it should be ready early in the new year.

I notice that the Drive’s last house at 928 Commercial now has a new security fence and the nearby trees have protective coverings. That probably means that, after a couple of years of vacancy, the building is about to be demolished.

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Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (1 month), 2277 (vacant 18 months), 2223 (22 months), 2111 (8 months), 2057 (1 month), 1814 (8 months), 1752 (11 months), 1748 (5 months), 1740 (17 months), 1733 (3 months), 1728 (9 months), 1678 (4 months), 1608 (12 months), 1503 (1 month), 1305 (9 months), 1303 (3 months), 1301 (2 months), 1206 (3 months), 1003 (10 months), 935 (11 months), 931 (6 months), 902 (3 months).

These are depressing graphs but we live in hope that in the new year we will start re-filling these empty spaces and bring back the glory days of 2019. We also have to recognize that this is a city-wide issue and CityHallWatch has a good piece on the situation today on West Broadway and on Granville.

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Grandview 8th December 1920

December 8, 2020
Province, 19201208, p.5

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Grandview 6th December 1920

December 6, 2020
Province, 19201206, p.19

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Grandview 4th December 1920

December 4, 2020
Province, 19201204, p.18

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Grandview 3rd December 1920

December 3, 2020
Vancouver World, 19201203, p.18

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Grandview 2nd December 1920

December 2, 2020
Vancouver Sun, 19201202, p.3

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Grandview 1st December 1920

December 1, 2020
Vancouver Sun, 19201201, p.13

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Changes On The Drive #112

December 1, 2020

I was fooled yesterday by the bright blue sky and did not dress well enough to counter the bitter wind that blew me up and down the Drive. The walk from Grandview Highway to Venables sometimes seemed like I was crossing Antarctica without a dog sled!

There is a detailed illustrated look at the takeout specialties at Jamjar Canteen, 2290 Commercial in Scout Magazine.

The Social at 1812 Commercial gets a full coverage review at the Daily Hive.

Bar Corso at 1566 Commercial has applied to change the license on their premises from Food Primary to Liquor Primary. This would allow them to extend their liquor serving hours, I believe.

As always, the season really come alive at Commercial & Graveley where the mass of Christmas trees on the roof of Home Hardware spreads its delightful piney smell across the intersection.

The storefront at 1433 Commercial has had the interior refurnished and painted and is now another cell phone store or similar. We seem to have as many of those now as we do cannabis outlets.

The Harbour Oyster Bar at 1408 Commercial gets a long and favourable review in Daily Hive. My understanding is that these folks also own the Social (see above) and I guess it is no coincidence that both restaurants are being covered by the Hive in the same week.

The former Beckwoman’s at 1314 Commercial is still closed but work on what will soon be Rave On, a clothing boutique, is well advanced.

I am now declaring that Renzo’s Cafe at 1301 Commercial is closed. I have heard rumours that the family has no intention to re-open. They are hoping, I am told, to sell the Cafe as a going concern which is why it sits closed but fully furnished. They also own the storefront at 1303 which has effectively been vacant for a long time.

The streetscape at Grandview Park changed literally while I was on my walk as one of the older trees fell over in the wind.

The popular Indian restaurant Sula at 1128 Commercial is preparing to open a second location, this time on Main Street.

I have been concerned about the Kin Kao restaurant at 903 Commercial — they have an imposing sign on the door saying “One Customer Only At A Time”, and they never seem to be open when I pass by. So I was glad to see an ad for Front of House staff the other day.

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Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

Depressingly, not a single business opened or re-opened in November so far as I could tell.

2277 Commercial (vacant 17 months), 2223 (21 months), 2111 (7 months), 1875 (3 months), 1814 (7 months), 1752 (10 months), 1748 (4 months), 1740 (16 months), 1733 (2 months), 1728 (8 months), 1678 (3 months), 1608 (11 months), 1314 (6 months), 1305 (8 months), 1303 (2 months), 1301 (1 month), 1206 (2 months), 1003 (9 months), 935 (10 months), 931 (5 months), 902 (2 months).

Interesting discussion on how to make outdoor patios more acceptable in winter: What Outdoor Dining May Look Like in Winter – Bloomberg

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Grandview 30th November 1920

November 30, 2020
Vancouver Sun, 19201130, p.13

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Grandview 29th November 1920

November 29, 2020
Vancouver Sun, 19201129, p.12

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Grandview 28th November 1920

November 28, 2020
Vancouver Sun, 19201128, p.35

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Grandview 27th November 1920

November 27, 2020
Vancouver World, 19201127, p.20

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


Grandview 26th November 1920

November 26, 2020
Vancouver World, 19201126, p.2

If you, like me, wondered what “violet rays” did, here is a Wikipedia article on it.

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


Grandview 25th November 1920

November 25, 2020
Vancouver Sun, 19201125, p.8

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Grandview 24th November 1920

November 24, 2020
Province, 19201124, p.7

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Grandview 23rd November 1920

November 23, 2020
Vancouver World, 19201123, p.13

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Grandview 22nd November 1920

November 22, 2020
Vancouver Sun, 19201122, p.7

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