R.I.P. Savo Jeremic

August 1, 2017

Savo Jeremic, the founder with his wife Ivanka of J,N,Z Meats on Commercial, died peacefully on July 20th at the age of 70 years. Their butchers shop has been a fixture on the Drive since 1988 and they recently took over completely refurbished quarters.

Savo was a great chess player and an avid fisherman, as well as a master butcher.

Back in 2000, Ivanka was asked why they opened a store on Commercial Drive: “Everything we do is special. Dry smoked, old fashioned. Like they do in Europe.  We used to have a beautiful store in West Vancouver, but everyone there is on a diet. Here there are working people who have to eat.”

If all they sold were black puddings and Jaffa cakes, I’d still be a regular.

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Another Take on Commercial Drive Vacancies

July 10, 2017

As readers of this site will be aware, I have been exercised lately about the number of vacancies on the Drive and, more particularly, the length of time some of these vacancies continue.  At the beginning of this month, we had three stores that have been vacant for more than a year, two for more than two years, and one for more than three years. There seems to be no activity on any of these long-term empty stores.

I mentioned this issue to the local BIA and their response was that this was a “global phenomenon” and so, I suppose, out of their hands.

During Car Free Day on Sunday I chatted with the owner of a small storefront in the heart of the Drive that has been empty for nine months. He told me they haven’t had any luck finding a suitable tenant: “And we are only asking $4,500 a month — the going rate.”

There was it seems to me, no thought on what might actually be needed to attract a tenant, maintain the space, pay taxes and mortgages — just that $4,500 was “the going rate.” There was also no appreciation that $4,500 is proving to be the going rate for keeping the store empty and revenue-less.

I’m no economist but none of this makes any sense to me.


The Barrenness of Choices

July 10, 2017

The half-block of Commercial Drive running north from Napier used to be a bright  busy space with Drive Organics, a hairdresser and a tattooist as I recall.  Today, that entire half-block has been taken over by Choices grocery and they have turned it into a desert.

Part of the true joy of Commercial Drive is the narrow storefronts, each one different from the next, and each one contributing its share of colour and life and vibrancy to the street and the neighbourhood. Choices defies all those good aspects of urban life, with a very long store, with opaque windows (so even the activity inside is hidden), and a featureless exterior. There are no eyes on the street, there is no activity, there is no fun here, it is a bleak wilderness.

And it is so easy to deal with: it is a produce store, for goodness sakes, and so perfect for street-side carts and tables filled with colourful fruits and vegetables and anything else they want to sell, You just have to look at Normans or Triple A or Donald’s to see how it is done.  It is not rocket science, but I get the feeling that Choices doesn’t really care: it is a business divorced from its community.  That may be why I never shop there.


The Best Of …

September 21, 2016

It is that time of year again, when the Georgia Straight announces “The Best Of” in Vancouver.  As usual, the majority of awards go to the west side but some local businesses score.

Those awarded #1 spot:

  • Attic Treasures for retro furniture;
  • Canna Clinic for best dispensary customer service (also #2 as best dispensary to chill, and #3 as best dispenary);
  • Daily Catch for seafood;
  • JJ Bean for local coffee chain;
  • Puff for best head shop;
  • Womyn’s Ware for sex toys (also #2 for fetish stuff)

Those in #2 place:

  • Choices for organic produce;
  • Spark for women’s wear independent;
  • Spartacus Gym for best independent gym;
  • Zool Suleman for immigration lawyer

Those in #3 place:

  • Donald’s for produce;
  • Figaro’s for garden store;
  • La Grotta for specialist cheese store;
  • Pasture to Plate for butcher

Congratulations to all of these, and to the many fabulous restaurants, bars, stores, and services in Grandview that were not recognised this year.


Date for the Calendar: Co-Op Bookstore AGM

September 21, 2016

On Friday 30th, the wonderful and venerable People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial is holding its Annual General Meeting. It will take place in the store at 7:00pm.

We have three bookstores on the Drive today, and we don’t want to lose any of them. Come along to the AGM and get involved!


Readers’ Choice Awards 2016

April 29, 2016

This week’s Courier includes the results of a reader survey on “the best of” Vancouver. There were quite a few winners on the Drive.  Most of the categories were voted on as “east”, “west” and “downtown”; so, except for the first, all the winners below are for “Best Eastside…”

  • Italian Day won best Festival city-wide;
  • Fratelli’s — Best Bakery;
  • St. Augustine’s — Best Pub/bar;
  • Vera’s — Best Burger;
  • Charlatan — Best Cocktail Bar;
  • Saloniki — Best Greek;
  • Sula — Best Indian;
  • Havana — Best Patio;
  • Bandidas Taqueria — Best Working Lunch;
  • Dream Cycle — Best Bike Shop;
  • Catz Lair — Best Hair Salon;
  • Donald’s — Best Produce Store.

Congratulations to them all.

For what it is worth, I agree with the Bakery, Greek, and Patio awards (so long as I could sit in Havana’s patio eating Fet’s food).  The others, for my taste, are as follows:

  • The Dime — Best Pub/Bar;
  • Cannibal — Best Burger;
  • Fet’s — Best Working Lunch;
  • Tino’s — Best Hair (salon);
  • Santa Barbara — Best Produce Store

I suspect I would really like Sula but I haven’t tried it yet. And I don’t have a bike, so ….


Good Scents

July 8, 2014

About half an hour ago I was waiting for a bus at First & Commercial.  The sun was beating down and even with my summer hat, I was feeling as if I might melt into the sidewalk. I noticed that AAA Produce had their awning down and there was a dark cool space where the shadow lay.  I walked over and stood relaxing in the dark coolness.

Suddenly I noticed that I was standing in a pool of delicious, delightful smells coming up and surrounding me from the peaches, nectarines, watermelons, mangos, apricots, apples, pears, melons, pineapples, grapefruit and oranges on display.

Boy, that was a splendid moment.