Changes On The Drive #92

April 1, 2019

I took advantage of Saturday’s gorgeous spring weather to do the walk. The Drive was busy, noisy, revelling in the sleeveless warmth, every patio seat filled.

It is all change in the Marquee storefronts.  Relish Burgers at 2990 Commercial has closed. The lease has been picked up by Fadi Eid, owner of the Jamjar restaurant currently at 2280 Commercial.  Jamjar will close at 2280 on April 30th and reopen at 2290 the following day.  Later in May, 2280 will become the new location for Sushi Loku which is currently located on East Broadway.


Across the street, after 5 months sitting vacant, 2235 Commercial is now Vape Street …


… while 2223 Commercial is closed “for renovations until further notice.”


The Saloniki Restaurant, long resident at 1815 Commercial has morphed into the Park Drive.

There is work being done at the Falcone storefronts at 1810 and 1812 Commercial. They look far from ready to re-open, but it is good to see some activity there after more than a full year’s closure..

Fortunato Bruzzese’s glorious La Grotta del Formaggio at 1791 Commercial has been selected as the place to get the Best Sandwich in Metro Vancouver by the Vancouver Sun.

Source: Vancouver Sun


Meanwhile, Pulp Fiction bookstore has completed its move from 1830 Commercial to 1744 Commercial, a much bigger space.


At 1622, La Mezcaleria is the only Commercial Drive joint in Scout’s list of Best Brunches in the City. I happen to think there are some decent brunches available all up and down the Drive, but this one is pretty good.

The former Bao Down at 1408 Commercial is still not open, but they have a new awning that announces the imminent arrival of Harbour Oyster Bar.

The new Livia Bakery & Cafe at 1395 Commercial continues to attract good press. It was packed from end to end when I walked by on Saturday.

The northern four blocks of Commercial to Venables were unchanged this month.


Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2290 Commercial (1 month vacant), 2086 (vacant 15 months), 2088 (15 months), 1840 (2 months), 1830 (1 month), 1812 (13 months), 1810 (13 months), 1801 (27 months), 1735 (6 months), 1706 (2 months), 1409 (7 months), 1408 (12 months), 952 (6 months).


Previous Changes on the Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #91

March 1, 2019

I did my passeggiata yesterday in a mix of winter and spring weather, taking many rests along the way.

Starting as usual at the southern end of my boundary, the Jamjar Restaurant at 2280 Commercial gets a good review in the Daily Hive’s list of Best Lebanese Restaurants.

2155 Commercial, an upstairs space by the Commercial Bowling Lanes, used to be a dance academy but has now morphed into an archery school under the name Lykopis Archery. I suspect the change was made a couple of months ago but I just noticed it today. It is currently being renovated.

The Cafe Deux Soleils at 2096 Commercial has been a fixture for almost 25 years. It continues to be packed an is now rated as one of the best Kid Friendly Restaurants in Vancouver by the Daily Hive.

The final vacant double-width 1800 sq.ft. spot in the new-ish storefronts at 2088 is to be taken up with a second location for the Kits-based Grounds For Coffee, well known for their cinnamon buns.  Don’t know the opening date yet.  According to an interview in the Straight, the owner Dan Hilton likes the new space: “This is a great space. You’ve got windows in the front and back, beautiful trees in front of us, and light coming in everywhere.”

Almost next door, at 2080, the Elephant Garden Creamery gets a rave review for its ice cream and their variety of unusual flavours. I can finally attest to the quality myself. The shop is bright, clean, and very friendly. I tasted a few flavours — all delicious — and came away with a pint of mango coconut sticky rice. It was truly wonderful.

The Smoke Shop at 1840 Commercial, with its displays of expensive glass bongs and similar, has closed.

The Pulp Fiction bookstore at 1830 Commercial is said to be doubling in size by moving to 1744 Commercial in the next month or so.

Earlier last month I heard a rumour from a trusted correspondent that Rufus Drums & Guitars has purchased the old Wonderbucks building at 1801 Commercial. They are currently on W. 10th but I was told they would move to the Drive in April. It seemed like an expensive development play just for a retail store, but seems to be true.

There is a long history of musical instrument stores on the Drive, going back to the 1910s. This will be a very welcome addition to that list.

The process for “legalizing” the cannabis store, the KushKlub, at 1735 Commercial seems to be moving forward as slowly as these things tend to do.


Meanwhile, the Bubble Tea Lifestyle space at 1706 seems to have closed. I never actually saw anyone in there for the months it has been open.

The new bakery-cafe (we have so many now) in Il Mercato Mall, the Bench Bakehouse, gets a great review from I Live in East Vancouver.

I wrote last month about the intimate theatre experience available tonight and on Sunday at the Drive Coffee Bar at 1670 Commercial.

At 1590 Commercial, the Ugly Dumpling gets a detailed review in the Asian Pacific Post.

Sopra Sotto at 1510 Commercial is the only restaurant in our slice of the Drive to make it into the Daily Hive‘s Best 15 Italian Restaurants in Vancouver.

The Charlatan bar-restaurant at 1447 Commercial is improving and expanding their outdoor patio.

At 1399 Commercial, the new Livia Bakery & Cafe continues to get good press. Here is a good review of the cafe and a profile of Claire Livia Lassam, the owner.

There is a profile of Andrew Hounslow, chef at Havana, in the Vancouver Sun.

Last month, I reported that the “pop-up boutique” at 1206 Commercial ha closed.  That was a mistake as I still see it in operation every once in a while over the last few weeks.


Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2235 Commercial (5 months vacant), 2086 (14 months),  2088 (14 months), 1840 (1 month), 1812 (12 months), 1810 (12 months), 1801 (26 months), 1744 (4 months), 1735 (5 months), 1706 (1 month), 1409 (6 months), 1408 (11 months), 952 (5 months).

Larger Trends in Retail

This massive increase in dollar stores, especially in poorer neighbourhoods, is called “alarming” in this report.

Meanwhile, retail bankruptcies continue to affect main street.


Previous Changes on the Drive editions.

Changes On The Drive #90

February 1, 2019

I did the walk yesterday on a cool and grey but pleasant day, just ahead of the mini-version of a polar vortex that we are expecting this weekend.

Harambe, the Ethiopian restaurant at 2149 Commercial, gets an excellent review at

I noticed no storefront changes south of First.

The Bench bakery and cafe in Il Mercato Mall has finally opened, and seems to be quite popular. However, I still think it is odd to have a coffee shop in the same building as Tim’s.


Along the street at 1399 Commercial, the new Livia Bakery and Cafe is also open — we have a glut of fine pastry shops now.


The “pop-up” boutique that operated briefly at 1206 doesn’t seem to have returned, so I am calling this space vacant now.

What used to be Stanley Nails Spa at 1182 Commercial now seems to be called Chi Lash & Brow. Not sure if that is new or whether I missed it earlier.


In what I seem to think is another change of name, what used to be the Honest Juice Bar is now called Wilder Juice.

At 905 Commercial, the very popular Downlow Chicken Shack, which closed for a week for revamping, has reopened with new items on the menu, like this monster…

Image: courtesy DL Chicken


Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2235 Commercial (4 months vacant), 2086 (13 months), 2088 (13 months), 1810 (11 months), 1812 (11 months), 1801 (25 months), 1744 (3 months), 1735 (4 months), 1409 (5 months), 1408 (10 months), 1206 (1 month), 952 (4 months).


Previous editions of Changes on the Drive.

Changes On The Drive #89

January 1, 2019

It was a glorious winter when I did the walk on Sunday; the sunshine was a real pleasure after so much rain.

As foreshadowed last month, the storefront at 2240 has been taken over by Pet Pantry, food and supplies. So now we have at least three pet supply stores within the core of the Drive.


Again as forecast last month, La Pache Pizza has move into the new storefront at 2082 Commercial.


Unfortunately, there still seems to be no progress at Falconetti’s, 1810-1810 Commercial.  The space is looking more desolate by the month.

Frateli Bakery at 1795 Commercial, and Andy’s Herman Bakehaus at 935 are both included in ILiveInEastVancouver’s list of favourite bakeries.

The Ugly Dumpling at 1590 Commercial and Sopra Sotto at 1510 were both given Honourable Mentions in the Vancouver Sun‘s Best New Restaurants of 2018.

The very-soon-to-be-open Livia bakery/cafe at 1399 Commercial is already sparkling up that block with its new white paint job and chic awning.  I suspect they are just days away from opening.


Next door to them, at 1397 Commercial, we say hello to Alpine Sport & Spine clinic, and gooddbye to a chunk of the Drive’s history.


In 1951, Nels Beaton, a Canadian veteran, opened a chiropratic clinic at 1704 E. 1st. In December 1953, Nels — who liked to wear bowties — moved his office to 1678 Commercial.  From the mid-1950s Nels Beaton was a civic leader of Grandview, chairing at various times the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Association, and the Van East Lions. His office, later shared with his son, moved to 1661 then 1321 and finally to 1397 Commercial in 1983.  For the last few years, the office has operated under the shingle of Beaton and Jeager. Now, only Jeager’s name is on the door and the Drive is without a Beaton for the first time in 67 years.

Rosemary Rocksalt at 1350 Commercial was one of only two local spots to make it onto the Daily Hive‘s list of Best Comfort Food Destinations:, there are so many more!  The other entry by the way was the DL Chicken Shack at 905 Commercial, which still gets lineups most lunchtimes.

Confirming last month’s news, Canuck Auctions at 1303 Commercial now sports a very permanent-looking sign.


Pacific Poke at 1268 has finally opened!


The storefront at 1206 Commercial which was vacant with the disappearance of Dandelion Kids has been taken over by a Pop Up Shop for a “plant-based boutique“.


What was Hustle Pizza at 1110 Commercial is now either Pizza Castle or Pizza on the Go ddepending on which sign you look at.


Finally, the renovation at Joe’s Grill at 952 Commercial doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so I now show it as vacant.


Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2235 Commercial (3 months vacant), 2086 (12 months), 2088 (12 months), 1812 (10 months), 1810 (10 months), 1801 (24 months), 1744 (2 months), 1735 (3 months), the bakery space in Il Mercato (48 months), 1409 (4 months), 1408 (9 months), 952 (3 months).

There has been a substantial fall in the amount of vacant space on the Drive this month as several projects, anticipated for months, have come to fruition.

Urbanologists and community activists bemoan the retail vacancy rate in Vancouver and Metro but the situation is so much worse in the UK.  In this article, it is claimed that a full quarter of shop space in England and Wales was lost between the financial crash of 2008 and 2015.

Some years ago I wrote a few pieces about the decline of the mall in America.  Seems as if this decline has not yet ended.


Previous Changes on the Drive edition.

Changes on The Drive #88

December 1, 2018

It has been a weird week for weather, with terrific rainfalls and spring-like temperatures. I managed to dodge most of the raindrops doing the walk yesterday morning.

The storefront at 2240 Commercial is still vacant, but there is at least a notice that Pet Pantry will be opening soon.

The new-ish storefront at 2082 Commercial is also still vacant, but is now signed to be La Pacche Pizza soon.

Image: Cannibal Cafe, Instagram

Both the Cannibal Cafe at 1818 Commercial and the Storm Crow Tavern at 1305 Commercial get rave reviews for their boozy milkshakes of all things!

As foreshadowed last month, Escents at 1744 Commercial has closed and the space is vacant. The shop had been open on the Drive for almost two decades.

At 1714 Commercial, Mintage gets a great review (“one of the best places you’ll find vintage clothing in East Vancouver”) in a list of the best thrift stores in the city.

The new-to-be bakery in Il Mercarto continues to scream from posters that it is opening soon but, from cracks in the paper that cover the windows, it looks like they are still down to the concrete inside.

Also at Il Mercato, the Tim Hortons has been closed for a week or so while it gets a full-on renovation.  The counterspace seems to have stayed in the same place, but the seating has been rearranged and all the back splashes have been replaced.


The Libra Room at 1608 Commercial gets a good call out in The Daily Hive as “the only place in Vancouver where you’ll find live music seven nights a week.”

The christmas trees have arrived at Home Hardware on the corner of Commercial & Graveley, filling the air with their festival aroma. I look forward to that every year.

Sopra Sotto at 1510 Commercial gets an interesting review of its charcuterie offerings in Vancouver Weekly.

The former Al Basho and Elizabeth Bakery space at 1399 Commercial is still undergoing a major renovation to become Livia, opening soon.

The storefront at 1303 Commercial has been listed as vacant for almost two years. The owner told me a long time ago that they were looking for an arts-based renter. For much of the past year, the space has been used by a friend of the owner to store some items. Now it seems to have been cleaned up, though barely filled, and there is a sign for Canucks Auctions.

As suggested a couple of months ago (in Changes #86), Dandelion Kids at 1206 Commercial has now closed and the space is vacant.

As mentioned last month, My Sister’s Closet has taken over the REACH storefront at 1151 Commercial.  I think it is a short-run thing, so we’ll have to see what happen after Christmas.

The renovation at Joe’s Grill at 952 Commercial is obviously more extensive than originally thought as they are still not open.

The thoroughly dependable, rarely mentioned, and definitely non-trendy Sunrise Pizza & Steak House at 949 Commercial gets a good review in an article on late-night pizza joints.

Kin Kao, at 903 Commercial, gets a good review in the Daily Hive’s list of the best Thai noodle houses.


Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2235 Commercial (2 months vacant), 2240 (9 months), 2082 (11 months), 2086 (11  months), 2088 (11 months), 1812 (9 months), 1810 (9 months), 1801 (23 months), 1744 (1 month), 1745 (2 months), the bakery space in Il Mercato (47 months), 1409 (3 months), 1408 (8 months), 1399 (4 months), 1268 (15 months), 1206 (1 month).


For those interested in the future of retail, here is an interesting article about how certain large corporations who make much of their living from impulse buyers are hoping to deal with the growth of online shopping.


Previous editions of the Changes.

Changes on The Drive #87

November 1, 2018

I managed to get the walk done on Tuesday lunchtime, in that dry patch between the downpours when the cool weather was just perfect for me.

Eggs Canna Dispensary at 2235 Commercial has closed until, it hopes, it can be licensed under the new legalized regulations.  It shut down after a massive closeout sale at the beginning of October.


Tangent Cafe, 2095 Commercial, celebrated its 6th anniversary this past month.

The exotic flavours at the new Elephant Garden Creamery ice cream place at 2080 Commercial get a rave review at Vancouver Is Awesome.

Prado, 1938 Commercial, makes it onto the Hive‘s list of best coffee shops in Vancouver, as does Spade at 1858.

Ar 1818 Commercial, Cannibal Cafe‘s Beast Burger gets a heart-stopping review in the Georgia Straight.

The two lots comprising the old Wonderbucks building at 1801 Commercial was sold on 17th October for $8.61 million.  As I passed by, there was a chap working diligently on papering over the windows.


I’ll have to do some digging and find out who purchased it.  It has been vacant now for 22 months and it wold be good to see some activity there.  I doubt the old building will survive, though.

There is a For Lease sign on the window of Escents aromatherapy store at 1744 Commercial.


Closed, apparently for legal/PR reasons while the new legalized cannabis licensing regime takes shape, is the fairly new KushKlub at 1745 Commercial.


Mintage, the second-hand store de luxe at 1714 Commercial, gets a mention in Vancouver Is Awesome’s list of the city’s best thrift stores AND in their list of Halloween suppliers.

I notice that the upper floor offices of 1448 Commercial are vacant and for lease. That used to be Spartano’s Notary office, I am sure.  Their realty company started doing business on the Drive in the 1960s.

The former Al-Basha space at 1399 Commercial has been taken over for a new bakery and restaurant called Livia. It is undergoinf major renovation and is expected to open sometime this winter.

Image: Scout

Sascha Thompson, owner of The FlowerBox at 1319 Commercial, was interviewed about the cost of property taxes which, in her case, she says, have risen to about $700 a month and which has forced her to cut down on business.

It is good to see that Havana has reopened at 1212 Commercial after their fire.

Sula, the Indian restaurant at 1128 Commercial, receives a good review at 604 Now.

The election is over and One City has moved away, so the REACH storefront at 1151 was vacant once again. However, I hear that My Sister’s Closet thrift store is moving into the space for the next few months, perhaps as soon as today!

Joe’s Grill at 952 Commercial is closed for renovations until early this month. I guess they can see a decent future for the place now that the wellness clinic next door is attracting clients.

At 931 Commercial, Little Miss Vintage gets a good mention in Vancouver Is Awesome’s list of thrift stores.


Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2235 Commercial (1 month vacant), 2240 (8 months), 2082 (10  months), 2086 (10 months), 2088 (10 months), 1812 (8 months), 1810 (8 months), 1801 (22 months), 1745 (1 month), Strawberry Bakery site in Il Mercado (46 months), 1409 (2 months), 1408 (7 months), 1399 (3 months), 1303 (23 months), 1268 (14 months), 1151 (1 month)


For those interested in the potential future of retail shopping, here is a fascinating view from the World Economic Forum. Well worth the 1:44.


Previous editions of Changes on the Drive.


Changes On The Drive #86

October 1, 2018

Concerned by forecasts of bad weather this last weekend, I decided to complete the walk last Friday. It was a gorgeously warm day; hot, even, if you rested in the sun for too long.

We’ll begin this month with an overall item for the Drive.  As a PR thank you to the community from Fortis BC for their closing of First Avenue this summer, they are paying for four of our intersections to be repainted in the colours of the Italian flag.  There are no dates fixed for this work, so far as I can tell, but the intersection at Commercial & First will be the first to be painted.  Looking forward to it!

At 2080 Commercial — the first of the four new storefronts built last winter to be occupied — has opened as expected as Elephant Creamery, which comes highly recommended. I was hoping to give it a try as the reward for my walk, but it doesn’t open until noon and I got there too early.


Wash Out, the reno’ed laundromat at 2058 Commercial has a great marketing sign:


Other than that, I didn’t find any changes south of First, including a continued bleakness at both Falcone and Wonderbucks former locations.

I came across this pre-opening promo for Bench Bakehouse in Il Mercato mall.  But when will it open? There are no signs or indications that I could spot.

The new Ugly Dumpling, 1590 Commercial, is now open, turning the space around in just one month.  As the first promo piece in the Hive says: ”

With seasonal eats, dumplings, and share plates, Ugly Dumpling emphasizes that their menu was inspired by “staff meal” aka “The food that us cooks make for each other before and after service every day. It’s not pretty, it’s not fancy, probably not authentic, and definitely not meant for photos.” There’s eats like roasted new potato and farm eggs, tomato and shiso salad, cucumber noodles and Xo sauce, grilled saba and Takana tartar, morel mushroom and rice, and of course, daily dumplings up for order.

The Everloving and I decided to have lunch there yesterday, only to be disappointed to discover that it is an evening only place, opening at 6:00pm.

Sopra Sotto at 1510 Commercial gets decent reviews in Vancouver magazine’s (very) quick look at east-side restaurants. and another in the Straight.

Soly’s Pizza has opened up at the reno’ed 1417 Commercial.


The storefront at 1268 Commercial has not been the site of a successful business for the last few years, and it has sat vacant for the last 12 months. However, I hear that a new Pacific Poke is moving in there soon.

Havana, 1212 Commercial, got a good review as one of Vancouver’s restaurants that make you think you are on vacation. I am guessing the article was written before the recent fire.  They are now talking about a reopening in the first week of October. Fingers crossed for them.

Dandelion Kids at 1206 is moving away.  I would guess from the sale signs they will be closing toward the end of this month.


The previously vacant shopfront in the REACH building at 1151 has been rented to the OneCity Party for use duing this month’s municipal elections.


Behind Moja’s at 1102 Commercial, work has begun on the Parking Space Tower. I’ll say no more about that here.

The trials and tribulations of the East End Food Co-op at 1034 Commercial continue. The Toronto Star has covered the latest discussions.

The Downlow Chicken Shack at 905 Commercial and Kin Kao Thai Kitchen at 903 are both well reviewed in the Straight.


Vacancies/closures/renovations on the Drive this month2240 Commercial (7 months vacant), 2082 (9 months), 2284 (9 months), 2288 (9 months), 1810 (7 months), 1812 (7 months), 1801 (21 months), Strawberry Bakery site (45 months), 1409 (1 month), 1408 (6 months), 1399 (2 months), 1303 (22 months), 1268 (13 months)


Previous Changes On The Drive editions.