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

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

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

Changes On The Drive #130

March 1, 2023


Another month gone by and so time for another Changes on the Drive. Penny & Steve did the walk just before the snow hit, so many thanks as always to them.

We have decided to assume that Dr. Tong’s office at 2105 Commercial is closed. The telephone number listed for the office is no longer in service, and the space is always padlocked.

There is a nice new sign at 2096 Commercial (Chancho) but no sign of it opening yet.

The former Bangladeshi restaurant at 2017 Commercial seems to have been taken over by La Luce, but it is not yet open for business.

The Afro Hair Studio at 1969 Commercial is celebrating its 25 years of operation on the Drive. It was started in 1998 by Abrham Berhe and was only the second specialist black hair salon in the city. This year, they are opening a second location on Granville Street.

The BC Liquor Store at 1520 Commercial is sporting what is, for me at least, a new sign.

Solys Pizza at 1417 Commercial has now become Auntie Jen’s Pizzeria.

Livia at 1399 Commercial is now open four nights a week for dinner service.

The former — and much-beloved — Santa Barbara Market at 1322 Commercial is now under new ownership as Santa Sahel, and some of the stock is moving away from its Italian heritage.

We had reported last month that Party Rock at 1314 Commercial had a closing out sign. However, they are still open and seem to be selling small appliances now.

There is a rumour that the former Fets restaurant at 1230 Commercial is slated to become a dentist’s office, which would be a second one on that block. The space is looking rather forlorn these days, now that the patio seating has been dismantled.

The popular Sula Restaurant at 1128 Commercial is opening a third location, this one in the West End.

The Willow Wax Bar at 1126 Commercial seems to be renovating; perhaps to Your Spa.

We have been reporting for some time that Nicli Pronto at 935 Commercial was being renovated. However, Penny & Steve spoke with the owners and there has been a change of plan. The idea now is to cook in the kitchen and sell to grocery stores rather than open to the general public.

As mentioned in last month’s edition, the former Covid Cafe at 931 Commercial has morphed into the Pizza Bagel Cafe. Along with the pizza bagels, they also have a breakfast menu and may add an afternoon tea later in the year.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2111 Commercial, 2105 Commercial, 2096 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 2057 Commercial, 2017 Commercial, 1861 Commercial, 1858 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1124 Commercial, 1027 Commercial, 1020 Commercial.

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

Changes On The Drive #129

February 1, 2023


We are back with edition #129, thanks once again to Penny and Steve for walking the walk and feeding me information.

The big news of the month was, of course, the closure of Santa Barbara Market at 1320 Commercial. That has been covered elsewhere (here and here). There are hopes that the new owners will be re-opening as soon as this week, and we await what changes that may bring to the street. In the meanwhile, our report goes as usual from south to north.

At 2245 Commercial we have just what we needed — yet another smoke shop! This one is called Haze.

The dope store at 2223 Commercial, which was Cannabis Cantina, appears to have changed its name to VanCity Weed.

We are not sure if Dr. Tong at 2105 Commercial is still in business? It is padlocked and never seems to be open.

The Holy Smoke Bangladeshi Restaurant at 2017 Commercial seems to have failed. That’s a shame — lost a bit of our diversity.

The purchase by Dava Developments for $62.5m of the Il Mercato Mall from Millenium City Malls is listed as one of the top ten commercial real estate transactions of 2022. The entire site is scheduled for re-development within this decade.

The space that used to be Drive Cafe at 1670 Commercial has people working inside, so hopefully this will open as something new soon.

People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial is now officially open 7 days a week!

Party Rock at 1314 Commercial is now sporting a Closing Down Sale sign.

We have lost the Spank boutique at 1027 Commercial.

The long-time “opening soon” Nicli Pronto at 935 Commercial finally looks as if it is close to being open.

The former Covid Cafe at 931 Commercial is re-branding as the Pizza Bagel Cafe, with a new menu and some decorative changes.

Although it is a couple of blocks outside our usual boundaries for these posts, I believe it would be sad to move on without mentioning the death two weeks ago of Nick Felicella, the owner of what used to be Nick’s Spaghetti House next to the York Theatre at Commercial & Frances. Nick’s was always a warm and welcoming place to go for huge family-style Italian meals until it closed at the end of 2017. He will be missed.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2111 Commercial, 2096 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 2017 Commercial, 1861 Commercial, 1858 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1124 Commercial, 1027 Commercial, 1020 Commercial, 935 Commercial

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

Changes On The Drive #128

January 2, 2023


Many thanks once again to Penny and Steve for undertaking the walk this month and for the images.

With the closing of Pacific Ink & Toner last month, it seems that National Massage Chairs at 2135 Commercial has expanded into their space at 2115.

The former Cafe Deux Soleils space at 2096 Commercial will be occupied this spring by Chancho Tortilleria. (h/t to KL for the heads up). See also.

The former laundromat at 2058 Commercial is still closed, but the For Lease sign has been removed, and the windows are now papered over. Perhaps a good sign?

Carthage Restaurant at 1851 Commercial appears to have re-opened, though its signs are somewhat confusing (do they mean “Main Course” and “Mussels” perhaps?)

The storefront at 1832 Commercial has now reverted to being an office for Expedia Cruises (which it was before February last year) after being a housing developer’s sales office for most of 2022.

The Osita Restaurant at 1728 Commercial has an application in its window for a liquor license.

The latest news I have on the much-loved Santa Barbara Market at 1322 Commercial is that they will be closing at the end of this month. I haven’t seen official confirmation of that (though it came from a store employee) and so there is still hope, I guess, that it will remain with us into the future.

Fet’s at 1230 Commercial has closed after 35 years in business. My small tribute to them is here.

That same block will be very quiet this month as Havana Restaurant and Theatre at 1212 Commercial will be closed for the month of January for renovations.

The new building at 928 Commercial seems close to completion. We should be adding new storefronts anytime now,

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2245 Commercial, 2111 Commercial, 2096 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 1858 Commercial, 1861 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1124 Commercial, 1020 Commercial, 935 Commercial

Previous editions of Changes on the Drive

Breaking Down The Drive

November 6, 2022


Based on the wonderfully detail inventory created by Penny & Steve, I note that we have the following breakdown of businesses between Venables and the Cut:

It is easy to see how successful the BIA and others have been in developing the Drive as a “destination”, rather than as the main street of a residential neighbourhood. I take that as a reasonable position for the BIA to have taken in the past, especially as the City was working hard to restrict certain businesses (furniture stores, appliance stores, automobile businesses come to mind) from inner-suburban neighbourhoods and move then into big box stores a car ride away.

But I think we are at the point now where the main street needs of the residents are being squeezed to bring in ever more restaurants and fast-food joints. Back in the 1980s and 1990s — not so long ago — we had a few dozen restaurants along the Drive. Now we have 92. While I welcome that diversity and availability of great food, I have to note that the last 40 or 50 restaurants have displaced 40 or 50 other different businesses that used to service the multiple needs of the people of Grandview.

Those are my thoughts on a snowy early November day. Here are some of the newest windows on the Drive (Images: Penny and Steph):

Changes on the Drive Coming Back!

November 5, 2022

Back in March, I announced that Changes on the Drive #126 would be the last of the series. I have missed walking on the Drive and keeping track these last few months, and it was gratifying to know through messages that others also missed the monthly updates.

Luckily, through the good offices of my friends Penny Street and Stephen Holmes, who have volunteered to do the legwork I’m no longer able to handle, we have a plan to restart the monthly Changes posts in December.

Meanwhile, as the first fruit of their walk on the Drive from the Cut down to Venables, they have produced this real-time list of all the businesses on that stretch as of November 2nd, 2022. (It is worth comparing this with the list still being offered by the BIA which is several years out of date). We’ll be using this as the baseline against which we will start noting changes next month.

Always happy to receive tips and news and gossip.

Changes On The Drive #126

March 5, 2022


I have had a number of correspondents write to me asking where this month’s Changes on the Drive edition is. Unfortunately, after more than ten years of monthly reporting, I am no longer physically able to walk the walk that makes it happen.

Especially now that the Drive is reviving from the pandemic slump, I shall miss cataloguing the changes and tracking the vacant storefront. I will do my best to report what I can see each month, but it is unlikely I can go into the detail that I like to produce.

Here are a couple of items I had planned to feature this month:

At 2247 Commercial, Juno Provisions opened a couple of months ago. Scout magazine had an interesting article about them.

Image: Scout

Also, at 1590 Commercial, we now have Hanai, a Hawai’ian themed restaurant that opened earlier this week. Once again, Scout has a piece on the refurbishing of the old Ugly Dumpling spot.

Image: Scout

I feel sure there were plenty more interesting items available this month on the Drive and I am sad not to be able to bring them to this space.

I want to thank the many people who read this column every month, many of whom sent me tips and stories.

Previous Changes on the Drive editions

Another Sad Loss on The Drive

February 2, 2022


Thanks to Penny for the heads up: I had completely missed an important business closing in my last Changes on the Drive report. The Drive Coffee Bar at 1806 Commercial has closed down according to a sign on their window.

They were a nice bunch in there, but apparently the covid-downturn was just too much for them. They will be missed.

Changes On The Drive #125

February 1, 2022

Having missed the January edition due to the snow and frigid temperatures (my first miss in more than ten years), I was glad to do the walk again yesterday. It was a gorgeous day for it and there are some interesting changes to report.

The storefront at 2247 Commercial has re-opened as Juno Provisions, serving “sushi and more”.

The former Western Union office at 2245 has closed, while the Canntina Cannabis store at 2223 has now opened.

Spartacus Books is just about to open at 1983 Commercial.

What used to be the Terra Housing offices at 1848 Commercial is now Access Employment Services, and the former Expedia Cruise office at 1832 Commercial is now a sales office for the Linx East Van housing development at 2268 E. Broadway.

The former travel bureau at 1733 Commercial seems to have become an extension of the KushKlub cannabis store next door.

What used to be Federico’s Supper Club at 1728 Commercial will soon become another live music venue called Ostia.

The storefront at 1706 Commercial, which has rarely done well as an eating place, will soon morph into a hair salon called Darling Hair Designing.

Yesterday was the last day in business for Exposure Home at 1616 Commercial which has been having a closing out sale for months.

As expected, the Ugly Dumpling at 1590 Commercial has closed, while Don Oso’s at 1305 Commercial opened in December.

The former Renzo’s Cafe, which has been closed at 1301 Commercial for more than a year, has become the Dope Coffee shop. It has the dark-lit atmosphere of a cabaret bar (the photo I took did not come out well).

We have a new beauty salon at 1126 Commercial called Willow’s Wax Bar which promises all sort of interesting vegan services using cruelty-free products.

The storefront at 902 Commercial is not yet open, but the shopfitters were working hard yesterday getting the Liquid Amber Tattoo and Art Collective ready for opening.

Vacancies on the Drive this month: 

2277 Commercial (vacant 31 months), 2245 (1 month), 2111 (21 months), 2058 (7 months), 2057 (14 months), 1929 (2 months), 1858 (5 months), 1851 (3 months), 1816 (21 months), 1748 (18 months), 1728 (20 months), 1706 (2 months), 1590 (1 month), 1303 (2 months), 1124 (3 months), 902 (16 months).


We are now at the lowest vacancy level since April 2020, and there are several more storefronts that I anticipate will re-open within the next two months. Clearly, the Drive is looking up!

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.

PS: While formatting this post, I managed to press the wrong button and thus deleted December’s Changes. Very annoying.

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).


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

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.


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:

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.