Bartenders Opening “The Diamond” In Gastown

March 27, 2009.

Regular readers may recall that we made mention of a new Gastown project a couple months ago involving some well known players. Since then, however, it has sat on Scout’s Anticipated Openings™ page, gathering internet dust under the title of “Gastown Secret”. For real, the owners have been so mightily secretive about it that we were even discouraged from commenting on the address. Some of you may have forgotten that it was even in the pipe. I’d advise against that, for tonight we’ve accrued a fat enough file to finally share the scoop. And dang, it’s a goodie…

It didn’t have a name back then, and it hardly needed one. With principals that are among the city’s top bartenders – Mark Brand, the 2006 Van Mag Bartender of the Year and co-owner of Boneta; ex-Chambar bar manager Josh Pape; and Sophie Taverner, formerly of The Cascade – they could have called themselves The Ghengis Khan Soda Shack & Swizzle Bar and they’d still likely open to a sustained packed house.

Located upstairs at 6 Powell St overlooking Gassy Jack Square, the sixty seat bar and restaurant is called The Diamond. They’ve picked up Christie Peters (ex-Feenies, Chow) and Pierre Natarani (ex-Feenies, Boneta, Medina) to run the small, easy Asian-themed kitchen (gyozas, ramen, etc), and Chambar’s Charles Ainsbury is on his way down to join the bar team as well (the world’s youngest Bartender of the Year, from Australia).

The business is a two fronted thing, with days seeing it run as a bartending school, something that will hopefully help elevate the bar scene from its rye and coke doldrums. They’ll also be offering spirit seminars to folks who want to sip and learn prior to heading out on the town, not unlike the many wine tasters you might see at Salt just around the corner. But it’s from 5:30pm until midnight (Thurs-Sun) that The Diamond will likely shine brightest.

It’s always really cool watching something like this come together. I’ve toured the place a few times already, and can tell already that it would have stood out strong if it had opened in the big restaurant boom of 2007-2008. But in a year when we can count the interesting openings on one hand, The Diamond, with its slogan of For The People, The Craft. Past & Present, sounds as sure a thing as the sun coming up.

Opening date: late April, 2009.

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Andrew Morrison is a west coast boy who studied history and classics at the Universities of Cape Town and Toronto after an adolescence spent riding skateboards and working in restaurants. He is the editor of Scout Magazine, the weekly food and restaurant columnist for the Westender newspaper, a contributor to Vancouver and Western Living magazines, and a proud board member of the Chef’s Table Society of BC. He lives and works by the beach in Vancouver.

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