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.

The Value Of A Picture

November 3, 2018

I have on occasion made posts here requesting anyone with early pictures of Commercial Drive and Grandview to make them available for study by historians and those interested in heritage issues.

I’m not talking about art studies by famous photographers, either, but rather snapshots by locals.  If your Aunt Gertrude was visiting in 1940 to see cousin Billy’s hardware store and a picture was taken, that would be great.  Historians may not be so interested in Gertrude and Billy themselves, but what we might get to see behind them and beside them can add vital historical information not otherwise available. I’ll give you an example:

At the very beginning of 1936, the former Odlum property on the east side of the 1500-block Commercial, to the intersection with Grant, was being developed as a gas station for Signal Oil. On the other side of Commercial, local developer Angus Campbell had bought the two lots on the corner with Grant. On pages 86-87 of “The Drive” I described these building projects which were completed by May 1936.   And I included a current photograph of the Campbell properties:

I had no reason to think the building had been altered since 1936.  However, we now have a wonderful image previously unseen from November 1937 that shows both the layout of the Signal Station on the east side (lower half of the image) but also, at the very right edge, a slice of the Blue Bird Beauty Salon on the west side:

This photograph shows that those stores were originally built as single-storey structures and the building was modified and enlarged sometime later: something I might not have known without this image. I’m sure that when Edward Odlum took the picture he was primarily interested in the development of the Odlum lots on the east side, but his snapshot has also helped illuminate the history of the west side.

So, do you or your family have a collection of pictures that might be of interest to the Grandview Heritage Group?   If you do, please email me.  Thanks in advance!

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.

Changes On The Drive #85

September 1, 2018

I did the walk yesterday, my first day out in a while. It was a beautiful late summer day and I enjoyed it — even though I had to find a place to sit down just about every half-block!

The Mr Greek Donair Store that opened a few months ago seems to be quite busy. They must be better at cooking than at spelling the address of their place:


The old/new laundromat at 2058 Commercial, now called Wash Out, has opened.

It is disappointing to see nothing happening at either of the Falcone storefronts (1810 and 1812). They have sat there rather drably now for six months.

Hard to avoid good reviews for the food at Mezcaleria at 1622 Commercial.  Another one here.

Merchants Workshop is now closed at 1590 Commercial as of 16th August. Looking forward to the Ugly Dumpling which had teased a possible opening in September.


1417 Commercial, the Eastside Pizza has closed.  After renovations, it will have a new owner and a new name:


The maternity store Room for Two at 1409 Commercial appears to be closing.  Please God let it not be replaced by yet another food outlet!


All-Basho is closed at 1399 Commercial. No surprise, really, once Elizabeth Bakery moved out. It looks rather bleak right now.  It is an odd space and I wonder if the building owner will need to re-fit for better function, perhaps as two separate stores.


Havana at 1212 Commercial is still closed after their recent fire, but they say they’ll be back soon.  I won;t put them on the shut list quite yet.


Basil Thai at 1179 Commercial gets a mention for Best Thai in the city, but with a rather mixed review.


The vacant storefront 1151 Commercial in the REACH Community Health Clinic building is still vacant. I heard a rumour it will be leased to municipal party as an election office. In the longer term, talk has it that it may be brought back into the clinic’s operations as they are already feeling the pinch in their brand new space.

The Bombay Kitchen has now opened at 1026 Commercial. I haven’t tried it yet, but I did hear one rather tepid review from a friend.

Kim Kao Thai Kitchen, 903 Commercial, also gets a good review from the Best Thai in Vancouver list.


Vacant/closed/renovating stores on the Drive this month:  2240 Commercial (6 months vacant), 2082 (8 months), 2084 (8 months), 2086 (8 months), 2088 (8 months), 1810 (6 months), 1812 (6 months), 1801 (20 months), Strawberry Bakery site (44 months), 1590 (1 month), 1417 (1 month), 1408 (5 months), 1303 (21 months), 1268 (12 months), 1151 (8 months),


Commercial Drive seems to be thriving. The same cannot be said for retail across much of the Lower Mainland  as this Business in Vancouver article illustrates.


Previous Changes on the Drive editions. 

Changes On The Drive #84

August 1, 2018

I did the walk in blazing heat yesterday because the weather forecast was for even hotter today.  Finding good shade became like a little game, amply rewarded when found.

Cabrito restaurant at 2070 Commercial is having a community paella event on August 15. Sounds like tasty fun.

The new Poke 5 at 2247 Commercial gets a decent review.

The space at 2080 Commercial is still vacant but is going to be filled in  a month or so by Elephant Garden Creamery, a really popular ice cream maker. The Everloving prefers gelato, but I’m looking forward to the soft serve!

The old laundromat at 2058 Commercial which has been closed for a couple of months is still papered over now has a new sign, so perhaps a new laundromat is in the offing?

As most readers will know, First Avenue has been closed this summer for gas line laying. I’m sure it has caused problems for drivers but also for some businesses it seems.  For example, Cassia Bake, just around the corner on First has been very public with its concerns and threats to close.  I find this a bit odd as they are literally just 10 steps away from the Drive, so foot traffic cannot have been greatly affected.  They didn’t do all that well when they were in a storefront on the Drive, so who knows whether the road closure has really affected their sales.

The former Strawberry Bakery location inside Mercato Mall is still being renovated for Bench Bakehouse. The space has been vacant almost four years.

There has been a full-scale renovation at First Care Medical, which now includes an in-clinic pharmacy.

Mezcaleria at 1622 Commercial gets plaudits for its vegetarian tacos.

Merchants Workshop, 1590 Commercial, is to close August 16:  Note the successful opening of their chicken joint at 905 Commercial.  But the space will not long be vacant; it is already booked for The Ugly Dumpling; high concept Asian street food — is set for opening at the beginning of September.

Absinthe Bistro at 1260 Commercial gets a good review here for its French food.

The Sula Restaurant at 1128 has new art work on its exterior.  I winder of that is the response to the new competition for Indian food diners (see below).


There are problems at the Food Co-op at 1034 Commercial. The opening of Choices across the street has brought significant competition.  It will be a real shame for both the Drive and the cooperative movement if we lose this excellent outlet.

The new Bombay Indian restaurant is still renovating 1026 Commercial.  When it is open we will have the choice of three Indian food places on the Drive.


The old Bosa Grocery building at 956 Commercial has finally opened as a medical/fitness centre.


A month after opening, the Downlow Chicken place at 905 Commercial is still drawing line-up crowds at lunchtime. They are also still drawing publicity.  I still haven’t tried it — fried chicken is not my favourite — but I’ll get there soon, I am sure.


Vacant/closed/renovating stores on the Drive this month:  2240 Commercial (5 months vacant), 2082 (7 months), 2084 (7 months), 2086 (7 months), 2088 (7 months), 2058 (3 months), 1810 (5 months), 1812 (5 months), 1801 (19 months), Strawberry Bakery site (43 months), 1408 (4 months), 1399 (3 months), 1303 (20 months), 1268 (11 months), 1151 (7 months), 1026 (2 months).

For those interested in the development and history of retail shops, there is a very informative piece in the Guardian about the problems of British High Streets.


Previous editions of Changes on the Drive.