Changes Delay

December 1, 2021

Good morning. For those regular readers who would be expecting to find a new edition of the Changes on the Drive series here today, it will be available later on Thursday. The torrential downpours of the last few days have kept me indoors. I believe tomorrow will be dry, so I’ll do my survey walk in the morning.


Changes On The Drive #123

November 1, 2021

Yesterday, when I did the walk, was weather-wise the best day of the year for my taste: clear blue sky, bright sunshine, and a cool temperature. Fabulous feeling. And the Drive was packed with people seeming to enjoy it as much as me. There were, I noticed, a surprising number of adults dressed up for Halloween (at least I guess that’s what they were dressed for).

Down at the southern end of my patch, on the north west corner of Grandview Highway and Commercial, an informal street market seems to be growing beside the convenience store.

Things are changing for the CCEC credit union at 2248 Commercial: The single-branch CCEC is looking to merge with the 7-branch Community Savings Credit Union.

CCEC Credit Union - 604list: Vancouver's Best Businesses

Grandview Lanes at 2195 Commercial is featured as somewhere to go on a rainy day.

The Dive In Dessert Bar at 1706 Commercial is finally closed and the storefront is being offered for lease. It hasn’t seemed open for weeks.

Loula at 1608 Commercial and Havana at 1212 make it onto the Daily Hive list of restaurants that make you feel you are on vacation.

Ugly Dumpling, 1590 Commercial, is closing at the end of the year, with the owners moving back to Japan. I didn’t manage to visit here and when I heard it was closing I decided it would be a great place for me to celebrate my birthday this week. However, looking at the menu, I saw that it would be a minimum of $150 for two, and so we went to Western Lake for dim sum instead.

Image: Scout Magazine

The big double-front at 1305, which has been vacant for 18 months since the Storm Crow Tavern closed, has now been leased and will soon be another Mexican restaurant called Don Oso’s. They were open on Hastings Street in Burnaby. I am not sure if this is an additional location or whether this is a move.

Next door, the oft-vacant space at 1303 is now occupied by Wolf Pack Apparel. However, at the moment it looks like it may just be another temporary pop-up for that space.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (11 months vacant), 2277 (28 months), 2247 (4 months), 2223 (32 months), 2111 (18 months), 2058 (2 months), 2057 (11 months), 1983 (6 months), 1858 (2 months), 1851 (2 months), 1816 (18 months), 1748 (15 months), 1733 (14 months), 1728 (19 months), 1706 (1 month), 1503 (10 months), 1305 (18 months), 1301 (13 months), 1191 (6 months), 1126 (5 months), 1111 (2 months), 902 (13 months).

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The number of vacancies has not fallen this month. However at least 7 of these vacant stores are either leased or well advanced in preparation for re-opening. These include the three large double-fronts at 1728, 1305 and 1191 Commercial.

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #122

October 1, 2021

I usually do my walk on the Drive on the last day of the month so that these posts can come out early on the first of the next month. However, I decided NOT to be drowned in the downpour yesterday. Which was a good choice because the Drive was resplendent in autumn sunshine today.

Last month we began with a quote from a Seattle newspaper. This month, we have this from Portland:

“Traditionally a bastion of the local Italian community, Commercial Drive in East Vancouver is still home to superb Italian food (try Oca Pastificio and Fratelli Bakery). But you can also dig into—literally, with your hands—a lavish Filipino boodle fight at Kulinarya Filipino Eatery, pile into some crispy prawn fritters at Lunch Lady (a spinoff of an Anthony Bourdain–approved soup stall in Saigon), or settle into some of the most meticulously prepared sushi in the city at Kishimoto Japanese Restaurant.”

The storefront at 2223 Commercial which has been vacant for a year and a half is still closed but now sports new windows advertising something called Canntina Cannabis.

Cafe Deux Soleils at 2096 Commercial is in a stage play.

The laundromat called Wash Out at 2058 Commercial has closed.

It looks as though Carthage Cafe is returning to its old location at 1851 Commercial, while BC Donair, now closed, was just a temporary interloper.

What used be Federico’s at 1728 Commercial and has been vacant for a year and a half, now has a LEASED sign on the window. No indication of what’s coming, but my guess would be another restaurant.

Although it was closed when I walked by today, I believe that the new Vancity Fried Chicken joint at 1678 Commercial is now open for business.

Lombardo’s Restaurant at 1641 Commercial gets a good review in Daily Hive’s Best Italian Restaurants.

At Mezcaleria, 1622 Commercial, the bartender makes a cool elote cocktail according to Scout Magazine.

I noted last month that Exposure Home at 1616 Commercial was closing down. It is still having its closing out sale, but there is already a LEASED sign on the window.

The newish Loula’s at 1608 Commercial gets another review in which it is described as “like if the Avengers opened a Greek restaurant.”

The Vietnamese café called Merci Beacoup at 1468 Commercial gets a nice review in a list of best pho restaurants.

Havana at 1212 Commercial is looking for staff. For the front of house, a manager, servers, hosts, and a bar back. For the back of house, line cooks, a head chef, and dishwashers are available. Apply at info@havanavancouver.com

Well at last we now know what’s happening with the former Biercraft at 1191 Commercial. It is soon to re-open as Community Taps and Pizza. The interior is being transformed by Sydney Earle of Jute Design and there will be 40 or so beers and wines on tap.

902 Commercial is still vacant, but there is a sign promising the soon-to-open Liquid Amber, tattoo and art collective.

Finally, I was sitting having a beer on the patio at Zawa’s the other day and heard the following review en passant: “I really like the Japanese curry at Mogu, but the chicken is better at the Downlow.”

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (10 months vacant), 2277 (27 months), 2247 (4 months), 2223 (31 months), 2111 (17 months), 2058 (1 month), 2057 (10 months), 1983 (5 months), 1858 (2 months), 1851 (1 month), 1816 (17 months), 1748 (14 months), 1733 (13 months), 1728 (18 months), 1503 (9 months), 1305 (17 months), 1303 (3 months), 1301 (12 months), 1191 (5 months), 1126 (4 months), 1111 (1 month), 902 (12 months).

While it appears that the vacancy rate on the Drive is getting worse, I would note that several of the vacant storefronts are leased and/or are ready to open soon. I have confidence that next month’s figures will show an improvement.

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Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes Update

September 1, 2021

After posting the most recent Changes post, I learned that Spade Coffee at 1858 Commercial has also closed permanently. They had one of the most evocative websites.

That means we have 21 vacant storefronts this month rather than the 20 shown previously.


Changes On The Drive #121

September 1, 2021

I’ll begin this month’s edition with an overview of the Drive from the Seattle Times by Brendan Kelly last week:

“At first, this neighborhood will confuse you with its pleasantly startling mix of cuisines, ethnicities and income brackets — that’s a good thing. In just a few blocks, you’ll pass places advertising injera, sushi, tandoori, mezcal, Italian coffee, samosas, Cuban sandwiches and Vietnamese food both upscale and down-home. Upscale pet accessory stores live next to well-worn used bookshops; some people on the street look like they have a lot of money, others look like they don’t have much. Andy Yan, an urban planner with Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, says this coexistence is explained by gentrification in slow motion. Commercial Drive was an Italian stronghold, then a multiethnic neighborhood, and is now attracting the “bobos” (bourgeois bohemians).”

Well, that’s us all over, isn’t it? In the meanwhile, it was the perfect day for the walk this morning; my kind of weather.

My southern Drive correspondent advises me that City Avenue is expanding south and north. I have noted for the last couple of months that they are displaying their produce in front of what was a Cash Exchange office at 2283 Commercial. I’m told they will also be taking over the old restaurant space at 2277.

Tangent Cafe, 2095 Commercial, Cafe Deux Soleils at 2096 Commercial, and Prado at 1938 Commercial all get good reviews in I Live In East Vancouver‘s brunches on the Drive.

My correspondent also tells me that Frank of Frank’s Jewelers, 1937 Commercial, has died, but that his wife may try to keep the shop going.

The Del Ray barbershop at 1798 E. 4th gets a shout out in the Hive’s list of Vancouver’s Best Barbershops.

What used to be LaLa’s at 1748 Commercial is still vacant but there is a sign saying that Cob’s Bakery will be opening soon. That is interesting on a couple of levels: first, we have a large number of bakeries on the Drive already; second, we used to have a Cob’s here and it closed more than a decade ago.

Note that J,N,Z at 1729 Commercial is closed for their summer vacation.

Another of the great brunches on the Drive is Mezcaleria at 1622 Commercial.

The new Loula’s Tavern at 1608 Commercial gets another review.

Exposure Home at 1616 Commercial is closing out.

My personal favourite, the Dime at 1565 Commercial, makes it onto the list of best brunches on the Drive.

The Vietnamese cafe Merci Beaucoup at 1468 got a great review on one of the local message boards: “The Pho broth is probably the best I have ever tasted… and I’ve tasted a lot! Banh Mi is so fresh! If you haven’t tried it yet you don’t what you’re missing!”

The Community Cash store at 1340 Commercial has closed, now dealing online only.

Havana at 1212 Commercial also gets a high five in brunches on the Drive.

The Arcane Tattoo Parlour at 1111 Commercial has finally closed, moved to East Hastings.

The DownLow Chicken Shack at 905 Commercial has proven so popular, they are opening a new location at UBC.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (9 months vacant), 2277 (26 months), 2247 (3 months), 2223 (30 months), 2111 (16 months), 2057 (9 months), 1983 (3 months), 1816 (16 months), 1748 (13 months), 1733 (12 months), 1728 (16 months), 1678 (12 months), 1503 (8 months), 1305 (16 months), 1303 (2 months), 1301 (11 months), 1191 (4 months), 1126 (3 months), 1111 (1 month), 902 (11 months).

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #120

August 1, 2021

As the title states, this is the one hundred & twentieth edition of Changes — one each month for the last ten years. Taking a quick look back through those posts, I am amazed at how much change has happened in the relatively compact stretch of fourteen short blocks from Venables to N. Grandview Highway that is the world of Changes. Unfortunately, this may be one of the least interesting editions as there are very few changes since the last post.

It sure was humid yesterday when I did the walk, though fortunately not nearly as hot as I had expected.

I have noted over the last few months the significant growth in the number of patios on the sidewalk. Most of them make a good deal of sense, but the brand new one outside the bowling lanes seems oddly placed as there is only a small snack bar inside and no other restaurants nearby.

The one new opening this month is Loula’s Taverna at 1608 Commercial. There is a good piece on the new place, and something odd about the bathroom here.

Image: Loula’s

There is a long advertorial about the Tandoori Palace‘s 20th anniversary at 1434 Commercial.

The Little Earth toy store at 1020 Commercial has a smart new sign.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (8 months vacant), 2277 (25 months), 2247 (2 months), 2223 (29 months), 2111 (15 months), 2057 (8 months), 1983 (2 months), 1816 (15 months), 1748 (12 months), 1733 (11 months), 1728 (15 months), 1678 (11 months), 1503 (7 months), 1305 (15 months), 1303 (1 month), 1301 (10 months), 1191 (3 months), 1126 (2 months), 902 (10 months).

As the graphs show, Commercial Drive is still deep into a pandemic slowdown. However, we are in far better shape that commercial streets in the UK where one in seven shops are now vacant: One in seven shops now vacant across the UK | Retail industry | The Guardian

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #119

July 1, 2021

Well, I can really appreciate the fact that the heat dome moved east overnight; I doubt I could have managed the walk in the temperatures of the last couple of days. Even at this more “tolerable” level, I was struggling. I was surprised at the number of businesses that had remained closed because of the heat.

On the walk today, I noticed an ever-growing number of street-side patios. They have been growing apace recently but this month sees them outside the Portuguese Club, Sula, Kulinyara, Bombay Kitchen, Absinthe, and others. Now that these seem to be a permanent fixture, I was wondering how that will affect Italian Day and Car Free Day when cafes have brought their cooking skills into the street. I like the change a lot.

The former restaurant at 2277 Commercial is still vacant after two years. The change this month is that the hopeful stickers that have for about a year announced a new café to open soon have been taken down and replaced by the always-attractive brown paper. Not sure yet if that is a good or bad sign.

Poke 5, at 2247 Commercial, has closed, as has the Dollar Plus Store at 1983 Commercial.

The new Sal y Limon at 1752 Commercial gets a quick review in the Daily Hive.

Loula’s — the new Greek concept at 1610 Commercial brought to us by a group of local restaurateurs: Petro and Yianni Kerasiotis (Nammos Estiatorio on Fraser), Bill and Niko Kerasiotis and Marco Mirisklavos (Sopra Sotto), and John Pavlakis (Minerva’s on W. 41st) — has not yet opened, but I suspect we are just days away from that event.

Sopra Sotto at 1510 Commercial makes the list of the best pizza places to visit.

The former Beckwoman’s store at 1314 Commercial has for a few months now been operating as a fashion boutique. However, its long term future appears to be as yet another cannabis dispensary.

Havana at 1212 Commercial gets another shout out for best brunch.

Next door, the small storefront at 1206 Commercial, which has been a pop-up outlet for a while, is now the new home of Manifesto Hair salon which has moved from its long-time spot at 1126 Commercial. I wish them great success at their new location.

Kin Kao at 903 Commercial has announced it will be opening a new Vancouver location. The concept will be setting up shop at 317 E Broadway (the former location of The Black Lodge) this summer, according to its social media accounts.

I noticed a sign in the window of Bump n’Grind at 916 Commercial that they are under new management. I hope they do well.

Finally, and just outside my normal location range, we now have a Bunny Cafe. Just around the corner at 1696 Venables we have a space where you can go pet the rabbits!

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (7 months vacant), 2277 (24 months), 2247 (1 month), 2223 (28 months), 2111 (14 months), 2057 (7 months), 1983 (1 month), 1816 (14 months), 1748 (11 months), 1733 (10 months), 1728 (14 months), 1678 (10 months), 1608-12 (18 months), 1503 (6 months), 1305 (15 months), 1301 (9 months), 1191 (2 months), 1126 (1 month), 902 (9 months).

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #118

June 1, 2021

Today was a beautiful day for the walk; it was warm and just the slightest of breezes. On the business front, I hope we have turned a corner: the number of storefront vacancies has fallen this month by a decent number. And we are just a few days into this less restrictive phase of the pandemic which promises significant opportunities to re-open old stores and to open new.

Eggs Canna, the large cannabis dispensary at 2137 Commercial, has completed its make-over with a new sign and logo on the windows.

The Canterbury Tales Bookstore makes it onto Daily Hive’s list of the best used bookstores in Vancouver. The store “has a way of luring you in,” says the review.

The Dollar Plus store at 1983 Commercial is closing down and they were having a massive clear out sale today.

Across the street at 1832 Commercial, Expedia Cruises have temporarily closed their offices while they work online. They say they will be back in the new year.

The old Starbucks site at 1752 Commercial has finally opened as the Sal y Limon Mexican restaurant.

We now have confirmation that the old Libra Room at 1608 Commercial will soon re-open as Loula’s Taverna, a Greek restaurant. The extensive renovations to the front of the building seem complete.

Also on the list of best bookstores is, of course, the People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial.

Memphis Blues BBQ at 1342 Commercial is looking to hire staff.

Biercraft at 1191 Commercial is closed at present. Walking by this afternoon I saw what appeared to be major interior renovations going on. Will be interesting to see if it re-opens as itself or as a new business.

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

The double-front space at 1003 Commercial, which for years housed the Peg Antiques, and then a hair salon, is now an up-market clothing store called Turnabout.

As I passed by today, I saw bakers baking, which makes me think that Artisan Bakery at 935 Commercial is just about open.

And Covid Cafe has finally opened at 931 Commercial. They have been criticized on social media for the choice of name. I hope they do well; they have put a great deal of effort into remaking that storefront.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (6 months vacant), 2277 (23 months), 2223 (27 months), 2111 (13 months), 2057 (6 months), 1816 (13 months), 1748 (10 months), 1733 (9 months), 1728 (13 months), 1706 (2 month), 1678 (9 months), 1608-12 (17 months), 1503 (5 months), 1305 (14 months), 1301 (8 months), 1206 (7 months), 902 (8 months).

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #117

May 1, 2021

I wasn’t able to do my walk on Friday as I normally would; which turned out to be a good thing because today was just perfect for walking. The Drive and all its patios was alive with people enjoying themselves. Let us hope that the regulatory climate soon improves along with the weather so that more of the new places can open.

Poke Five, the restaurant at 2247 Commercial, has announced that it will be closing permanently later this spring. It opened in May of 2018.

The Harambe Ethiopian Restaurant at 2149 Commercial has a fine new patio, as does Giancarlo’s at 1865 Commercial. The latter was very popular at lunchtime today.

The Liberty Tax preparation office at 1848 Commercial has opened. Our first genuinely new business for several months.

At 1752 Commercial, which used to be a Starbucks and is soon to be a Mexican restaurant, an entire orchestra was out having fun.

The always-wonderful Fratelli’s Bakery at 1795 Commercial gets a long spread in Daily Hive for its almost-25 years of service on the Drive.

Our second new business this month is the CraftMaison store at 1840 Commercial. It is now open (the image was taken earlier).

I believe the Dive-In Desserts at 1706 Commercial is closed. Happy to be proven wrong.

The nachos at Memphis Blues, 1342 Commercial, get a great rating.

Havana, 1212 Commercial, has been advertizing for a new Restaurant Manager.

What’s the story with Biercraft at 1191 Commercial? They are papered up as if closed, but their website is still saying they exist, and I thought they recently upgraded their patio.

The Kulinarya restaurant at 1124 Commercial has a new patio that was very popular today.

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

CityHallWatch had this to say about most recent commercial developments in Vancouver:

“The new occupants of the retail space mostly appear to be chain stores and medical clinics. In areas with a rich tapestry of local stores and services, is it only chain stores and medical clinics that compete for the new space? Could smaller storefronts, with narrow frontages (for example 25 feet or just a bit more) encourage a wider range of services and more appeal and variety of the street front? What are the effects of high ceilings on the ground floor — in terms of building costs, rent costs, look, feel and ambiance? Are business improvement associations (BIAs, which often speak up at Public Hearings to endorse rezoning and development applications) talking to their existing members to get input on what kinds of developments/buildings will help them survive and thrive? How can the City and developers ensure that small shops and businesses (traditional and startups both) survive and thrive when existing commercial sites are demolished and redeveloped? Or does the appearance of a development application sign in front of a building automatically and inevitably mean the death knell for those existing shops and businesses that add so much to the feel, culture and richness of — and love for — a neighbourhood? These are things for everyone to consider, not the least being our planners and elected officials.”

See also the City’s report on small business: City Report: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/city-of-vancouver-small-business-study-2020.pdf

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2283 Commercial (5 months vacant), 2277 (22 months), 2223 (26 months), 2111 (12 months), 2057 (5 months), 1816 (12 months), 1752 (15 months), 1748 (9 months), 1733 (8 months), 1728 (12 months), 1706 (1 month), 1678 (8 months), 1608-12 (16 months), 1503 (4 months), 1305 (13 months), 1301 (7 months), 1206 (7 months), 1003 (15 months), 935 (15 months), 931 (10 months), 902 (7 months).

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.


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.”

  • * * * * *

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

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


Grandview 6th December 1920

December 6, 2020
Province, 19201206, p.19

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


Grandview 4th December 1920

December 4, 2020
Province, 19201204, p.18

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


Grandview 3rd December 1920

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

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


Grandview 2nd December 1920

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

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


Grandview 1st December 1920

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

All previous Grandview 1920 clippings.


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.