Changes On The Drive #96

August 1, 2019

It was just a perfect summer’s day stroll down the Drive yesterday with the heat of the bright sunshine complemented by a good fresh breeze.  It was a midweek lunch hour, and the Drive wasn’t so busy as to be uncomfortable. Notwithstanding the lazy weather, there have been a number of changes on the street this month, but we end up, once again, at our lowest vacancy number for several years..

The Sweet Greek restaurant at 2277 Commercial is still closed after the change of management noted last month. It looked desolate through the windows yesterday so I am reluctantly calling this one vacant.

 

Cafe Deux Soleils at 2096 Commercial gets a nice call out as one of the best and cheapest brunches in town. It was during a poetry slam in the last millenium when I was last there. No idea why it took so long, but I went yesterday for brunch and it was great.

 

There is good news on the Falcone front.  The restaurant at 1812 may already be open, it certainly looked ready as I walked by yesterday. the 1810 storefront was completely covered up, so it was impossible to tell if that is equally ready to re-emerge.  Good news anyway.

La Grotta at 1791 Commercial is celebrating 40 years of service on the Drive,

The Babylon Tea Company at 1740 Commercial was closed as I walked by. it was closed the last time i looked, too, and there is an accumulation of mail on the doorstep.  Maybe just closed for holidays so I am reluctant to call it vacant yet.

The anticipated Bar Corso at 1544 Commercial is still not yet open.

One of the last surviving stores of its type, Black Dog Video at 1470 Commercial gets a CBC story.

The space next door to Renzo’s, 1303 Commercial, seems to be being taken over by the Green Party, in anticipation of the fall election, I guess.

Whatever extra space was previously available at the REACH Clinic, 1045 Commercial, is now to be occupied by a new Provincial Health Care hub. “The facilities are intended to take stress off of hospital ERs while providing patients with same-day access to doctors and nurses.”

 

Story on the Eastside Food Co-op at 1034 Commercial has turned its fortune on it head. Last year, there were fears it would have to close; now, it is reporting great results and even talking about a possible expansion. Great news for a great organization.

The Absinthe Bistro, which used to be at 1260 Commercial, has now moved and opened at 952 Commercial.

 

Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2277 Commercial (1 month vacant), 2223 (5 months), 1840 (6 months), 1810 (17 months), 1735 (10 months), 1544 (2 months), 1260 (1 month).

The future of retail?  See the massive anticipated growth in “autonomous check out” in retail stores:  https://t.co/vy9y61svba

 

 

Previous Changes On The Drive editions.

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Changes On The Drive #95

July 1, 2019

Boy it was hot walking the Drive yesterday. Thank goodness I remembered my hat!

Not a lot of changes this month.  However, we remain at only 8 vacancies on the Drive. Two of those vacancies are former cannabis dispensaries which, I assume, are still struggling with the licensing process, two others are the linked Falcone storefronts which may or may not be being renovated (it is hard to tell), and a further two are scheduled to reopen imminently.

The Sweet Greek, a place I have praised before, has a sign saying that new management has taken over.  Fingers crossed that it doesn’t lose its charm.

 

The new-to-us Grounds for Coffee, which opened last month at 2088 Commercial, gets a long and glowing review in the Vancouver Sun.  However, they have had to give up their idea of not accepting cash.

 

As suggested last month, My Sister’s Closet has now formally taken over the 1828 Commercial storefront.

 

The BBQ Chicken place at 1678 Commercial seems to be getting a makeover. It was looking pretty run down.

 

The southernmost storefront of the Kalena group, 1544 Commercial, which most recently failed as a fancy candy store, is soon to be a bar, the Corso.  I’m not sure when it will open.

 

Sopra Sotto at 1510 Commercial has opened a branch in Burnaby.

The owners of the recently opened Harbour Oyster Bar at 1408 Commercial are revealed to be Ari Demosten and Alex Kytiazis, previously known from their controversial and now-closed Escobar Restaurant on Fraser.

Finally, 952 Commercial (which used to be Joe’s Grill) is still closed but will soon reopen as the new location for Absinthe Bistro, currently at 1260 Commercial.

 

Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2223 Commercial (4 months vacant), 1840 (5 months), 1812 (16 months), 1810 (16 months), 1735 (9 months), 1544 (1 month), 1303 (2 months), 952 (9 months).

Previous Changes on The Drive editions.


Changes On The Drive #94

June 1, 2019

What a glorious day yesterday to take a walk on the Drive.  Hot sunshine, smiles on people’s faces, packed patios; hard to beat.

The most important change this month is the fall in the number of vacant or closed storefronts.  There are just 7, the lowest number since September 2014. And because we have actually added quite a number of storefronts since that earlier date, this is the lowest percentage of closed stores for an even longer time.

The easiest of the changes on the Drive to see this month are the four crosswalks freshly painted with the colours of the Italian flag. These are the payoff that Fortis (working with the BIA) has offered in exchange for the disruption they caused last year as they upgraded their facilities along First Avenue. In the meanwhile, ten or more local businesses are suing the gas company for loss of revenue during last year’s work.  This is the one at 4th Avenue.

 

Loku Japanese restaurant has now opened at the 2280 storefront in the Marquee.

 

The double storefronts at 2088 Commercial have been vacant for 16 months, so it is good to see them now open as Grounds For Coffee‘s new location. Apparently famous in Point Grey for their handmade cinnamon buns, this latest in our most recent upsurge of coffee/baked goods establishments, is aiming to make them their marketing difference.

Right next door, at 2080. the Elephant Garden Creamery makes it to Daily Hive’s Must Try Ice Cream list.  (Personally, I am amazed and somewhat affronted that they did not include Dolce Amore on their list!)

At 1961 Commercial, the old Coastal Food Market, operating there since 1969, seems to have morphed into ShopRite2:

It was good to see workmen inside 1810 and 1812 but they are, still, closed after 15 months.  However, the space at 1706 wasn’t left idle for long; it is now the home of Dive In Desserts. I have a feeling they will do a lot better than the previous tenants.

 

The previously vacant storefront at 1409 Commercial has been taken over by a Cell Doctor company:

 

Memphis Blues at 1342 Commercial gets a good mention in Hive’s best nacho spots list.

The Canucks Auction store that has briefly been at 1303 Commercial has moved to 1726 Commercial, an upstairs office, leaving this space vacant once again.

The storefront part of the REACH Clinic at 1151 Commercial is now occupied, on a temporary basis, by the Multicultural Family Centre.

 

Back in Changes #89 in January this year, I mentioned the confusion over the name of the operation at 1110 Commercial. Finally, we have a Grand Opening of the Pizza Castle & Indian Curry house.

 

Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2223 Commercial (3 months vacant), 1840 (4 months), 1812 (15 months), 1810 (15 months), 1735 (8 months), 1303 (1 month), 952 (8 months).

 

Previous editions of Changes On the Drive.


Changes On The Drive #93

May 1, 2019

I did the walk yesterday in beautiful bright sunshine. For a mid-week mid-morning, the Drive was pleasantly lively.  There were few changes in the storefronts this month.

JamJar Restaurant has moved into the space at 2290 Commercial. I believe it is officially opening today.  The new tenants at JamJar’s previous address, 2280, have not yet moved in.

My Sister’s Closet is due to open today at 1830 Commercial, having moved from 1151 Commercial.

It is wonderful indeed to see the old Crystal Dairy/Wonderbucks space at 1801 Commercial filled with activity again after a closure of more than 2 years.  Blaine McNamee and his Rufus Guitar and Drums got a good write-up at the CBC.

 

Sake Mako at 1414 Commercial has a new awning, I believe.

 

Meanwhile next door, at 1408, the new Harbour Oyster Bar, seems to be having a soft opening, even though I am sure I read it was not opening until next week.  Either way, I welcome them to the the Drive and wish them good fortune.

 

The Daily Hive has a fine feature on Rosemary Rocksalt bagels at 1350 Commercial.

The space at 1151 in the REACH building is now vacant;  My Sister’s Closet has moved to 1830 Commercial. I wonder if REACH will rent it out again or whether it will become part of the clinic?

As I mentioned at the beginning, there were few changes this month.

 

Vacancies on the Drive this month:  2223 Commercial (2 months vacant), 2086 (16 months), 2088 (16 months), 1840 (3 months), 1812 (14 months), 1810 (14 months), 1735 (7 months), 1706 (3 months), 1409 (8 months), 952 (7 months).

 

Previous Changes on The Drive editions.


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 604.com.

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.