The New Nicks Is A’Coming

April 18, 2018

When Nick’s Spaghetti House closed after 62 years in business at 631 Commercial, there was already talk of another restaurant moving into the space.  Now, that talk has become concrete action.

The old restaurant is being refurbished and will open as Pepino’s Spaghetti House, owned and operated by the chefs and management team who have been so successful with their Savio Volpe osteria at Fraser & Kingsway.  Much of the ambience of Nick’s is being kept, according to a story in Scout Magazine, including the old murals.

Image: Scout Magazine

There is hope the new restaurant will open in June.

The convenience store that used to be next door to Nick’s has also been taken over by the same group. After a complete refit it will reopen as Caffe La Tana, a traditional food store and cafe.

That northern part of Commercial Drive is home to a wide range of less expensive houses and small relatively affordable apartment blocks. It seems to me that Pepino’s and La Tana are probably looking for a more exclusive clientele which they hope to find once that stretch of the neighbourhood is thoroughly gentrified. In the meanwhile, their marketing will aim, I am sure, for the destination crowd.

 

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EVIL Doings at the Havana

March 24, 2018

The East Vancouver Improve League (EVIL) engage in a fast-paced improv comedy contest every Sunday at the Havana Theatre.

 

Proceedings get under way at 7:30pm and tickets are just $8 at the door.

Not sure what will happen in the three weeks that Havana is closed for renos from this Monday, but give tomorrow a look!


Story Time On The Drive

March 22, 2018

Thanks to the always useful ILiveInEastVancouver blog, I learn that The Drive Coffee Bar at 1670 Commercial is hosting a weekly story session each Wednesday evening from 7:30pm to 9:00pm:

“You will hear tales from some seasoned storytellers, but each week they do try and get a new face up to take a turn.  The venue is a favourite of ours for the great coffee, selection of Cartem Donuts and some of the best sandwiches in the City by La Grotta del Fromaggio plus they also serve wine and beer.”

Sounds like a fun evening!

 


Sopra Sotto Arrives!

March 4, 2018

One of our big spaces — what used to be the Roma Caffe, at the corner of Commercial and Grant — seems as though it is just about to burst into life once again after 15 months of shuttered windows.

Since last April we have been teased by the signs suggesting that at some unspecified time in the future we would have a fine Sopra Sotto restaurant.  Now it seem it has finally come to fruition.  Here is the interior as I passed by in the sunshine yesterday.

 

My very first thought was that it is a cleaned-up and airy pastiche of all The Drive bars and cafes we already have; nothing particularly original, done well.  But it will be in the taste on which its future success will have to rely: we have a good number of pizza places here already at all price levels. Where will they fit?


Updated Review: The Dime

March 3, 2018

 

After the NPA event, I went to the Dime for brunch with the Everloving. It is nothing much more than a bar with background music, TVs on most walls, heavily tattooed staff (giving great service), and good cheap food.  I really enjoy the place, as does herself, and I thought it time to give it another shout out.

If we go there during the week for lunch, we are both addicted to the Breakfast Sando, served with greens and a piquant dressing. Great stuff.  But on the weekends they have a brunch menu and we both adore their Chorizo Hash Skillett. It is a good plateful of potatoes and onions and peppers, a fried egg, with enough chorizo to give it a kick, and served with a form of hollandaise that is to die for.

The quality of the food is superb and the real kicker is that, like all the food at the Dime, they are just $5.95 each. So, two filling brunches and a great pint of local beer cost $17.00 including tax.  Most breakfast places on the Drive will charge you $17 for a single serving of hash and eggs with coffee. And most of them won’t be as good.

If you’ve never been to the Dime, I can thoroughly recommend it.


Looking Sad

February 7, 2018

At the end of Changes on the Drive #77, I reported on the closure of the long-established Nick’s Spaghetti House along with the convenience store next door. There were reports at the end of the year that another restaurant was primed to take over space.

A correspondent recently wrote asking what was happening at the site, so I went down there yesterday to take a look.

 

It was disappointing to see just how sad it was, with no work going on there so far as one could see. I’ll keep an eye in it in the hope that something new will appear soon.

 


Follow Up To The Fet’s Whiskey Raid

January 21, 2018

As I reported earlier, and has been widely reported since, Fet’s Whiskey Kitchen on Commercial Drive was raided last week and $40,000 worth of bottles were seized by agents of the BC government.

At the time there was some mystery as to why this had happened, but the reason has now been made clear — they were purchased from private liquor stores (which had purchased them legally from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch) rather than from the BCLDB directly. All required taxes had been paid but these bars are only allowed to buy their liquor from the BCLDB — even though the BCLDB won’t sell them these particular whiskeys.

It is worth repeating that all required taxes had been paid.  In other words, this is all about the bureaucratic nonsense that is BC’s liquor laws.

Apparently bars and clubs have been buying from private liquor outlets for years and liquor inspectors have allowed it to go on. Now, suddenly, the Ministry under David Eby has decided to stamp down on the practice. They could, of course, have changed the law so that BCLDB could sell these whiskeys to the bars but no, they wanted to play the heavy instead.

In a long article by Martyn Brown, he suggests that the “prohibition style” raids may have been occasioned by the money laundering crisis in BC casinos:

“It is in an interesting coincidence, I’m sure, that this crackdown has occurred only days after Attorney General Eby launched his own scathing indictment of the inept gaming policy enforcement and money laundering problems that transpired under the former government’s watch. No doubt, the last thing the general manager or others in the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch want to do is to leave the branch vulnerable to being accused of falling short in its enforcement responsibilities.”

However, as the same article notes, the raids have done nothing to enhance BC’s image as a tourist friendly Province. Perhaps more importantly for locals, Eric Fergie of Fet’s notes that his small business could suffer badly.

“Fergie said he’s now worried how his small business will absorb the cost. ‘If we are fined heavily for the infractions and we lose our product, then, you know, we’ve got 20-something people that work for us and it’s going to be difficult’.”

Eric and Allura Fergie have been mainstays of Commercial Drive business since opening their original Fettucini’s Cafe in 1987.