Happy Anniversary GHG!

May 5, 2019

Today is the 8th anniversary of the founding of the Grandview Heritage Group (GHG).

The GHG website has become the go-to place for anyone interested in the 100+year history of our wonderful neighbourhood, and the group has made enormous strides in its mission: to identify, preserve, and celebrate our local heritage.  The monthly meetings are always interesting, and it has been exciting to watch new people come into the group and keep it lively.

Well done everyone concerned and we look forward to more exciting work as we move into the future.

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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.


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.