We Take A Look Inside Calabash, Coming To Gastown This Spring

January 19, 2010.
Co-owner Roger Collins inspects the ancient original elevator on the lower floor at Calabash, due this Spring.

Researching for an upcoming magazine article I popped my head in to the construction site of Calabash, an upcoming 75 seat, two level, Caribbean-themed restaurant and lounge slated for the redeveloped space at 428 Carrall St. across from the old BC Electric Building on the border of Gastown/Chinatown. Owned by former Chambar staffer Roger Collins (of Foundation Radio) and former Cassis Bistro co-owner Sam Willcocks, the already ten month old project is slated for arrival hopefully as soon as April. The main floor will see a 35 seat restaurant and kitchen cheffed by Cullin David (10+ years as the executive sous at Provence), while the downstairs will sport a 40 seat lounge. While still very much a naked shell, check out that amazing elevator and the purple glass sidewalk skylights!

  • Roger inside the elevator at Calabash
  • Oh my gourd, it's a Calabash
  • Ryan and Roger on the lower level at Calabash
  • Ancient purple glass sidewalk skylights at Calabash
  • Ancient purple glass sidewalk skylights at Calabash
  • Construction maestro Ryan Murfitt and Roger Collins on the main floor at Calabash
  • The kitchen at Calabash
  • The main floor dining room at Calabash
  • Plans for Calabash
  • Coming up from the lower lounge at Calabash
  • Coming up from the lower lounge at Calabash
  • The lower level at Calabash
  • Ryan inspects the old elevator mechanism on the lower level at Calabash
  • What a find! Too bad it doesn't work, though it makes for a sweet DJ booth, no?

All Anticipated Openings

  • http://www.stephanievacher.com stephanie vacher

    that elevator is beautiful. can’t wait to try this place once it opens! :]

  • TransplantCaribbeanGirl

    OMG..CAN’t wait and I live in the neighborhood

  • Karl V

    Um, this isn’t in Gastown- it’s right square in the middle of the Downtown Eastside, kitty corner from Pigeon Park. Euphemistically placing it in Chinatown/Gastown doesn’t make it any less so.

  • Scout Magazine

    Of course you’re absolutely right.

  • http://www.10minutemail.com J.A.

    @Karl V – While you may be correct in saying that the location is within the borders of the DTES, you should do some research before spouting off. All of Chinatown, Gastown, Oppenheimer Park (formerly Japantown) Strathcona, Thornton Park and Victory Square are part of the DTES. This area has seen a huge amount of revitalization within the last few years. It is through pioneers such as the people opening restaurants in these areas that poorer neighbourhoods are able to turn themselves around.

    If you look at the Soma neighbourhood of today versus the 10 years ago, I think you will find that a few socially responsible merchants who chose to open in an area not typically considered to be prime real-estate were a driving force in the changes that have been realized in a short period of time. Other neighbourhoods that have seen similar progress in recent history include Soho, Greenwich Village, and Haight Ashbury. Admittedly, the previously mentioned areas were never quite as bad as the DTES, but you have to admit that there has been a huge change since the 1960’s, and this couldn’t have been accomplished with the kind of ignorant close minded thinking that you exhibit with your commentary.
    Why not encourage someone who is making an effort rather than putting forth misleading if not inaccurate information that can only do more harm than good?

  • robert

    Wondering how the restaurants opening in the DTES are helping the neighborhoods, other than driving the less fortunate out of the area. If creating a ‘cool’ new groove is helping the poor, drug additcted and homeless than I stand corrected. Soma is surrounded by viable businesses, bordered by residential areas that are not in comparison to anything in the downtown eastside. I am not a left wing righteous whiner, just curious how hipsters opening up establishments are positively impacting the ‘poorer neighborhoods’.

  • http://www.buycheese.com Joe Chaput

    According to the City, it is located in Gastown.
    As said upthread, Gastown is part of the DTES.

    See also here

  • chris

    I don’t give a shit where it is- leave the social commentary and whining to other blogs.

    I am just happy there will be another carribbean based restaurant in the city. Can’t wait till it opens and hope the food is great!

  • Happy Dragon

    For Robert:

    I appreciate your passion for wanting to help the ones in need in the DTES. It is a situation that needs attention and I hope that you are an advocate or one of the many great people that volunteer their time to try to make things better. But your comments are ignorant.

    Ignorance breeds contempt. You know nothing about the people opening the restaurant. Calling them hipsters in a malicious fashion is ignorant. They might be trying to do things for the poorer people in the area, you never know. Unless you personally know of the people who are opening the restaurant, keep comments like that to yourself and others who might appreciate your negative energy.

    You want positive impact, be the change, don’t chastise others you do not know for what they may or may not be doing.

    I am looking forward to some great Caribbean food in this city. I hope it delivers!

  • Natty Dread

    Well written Happy Dragon. I completely agree with your comments.
    I think you will find that Calabash will provide a low budget luncheon option to enable low income earners to eat out and engage with others in their community. This place looks wonderful and I know it will deliver.

    Robert quiet yourself you blood-clot!

  • Eryn Dorman

    Roger and co. are doing a wonderful thing by bringing a small independently owned buisness to the DTES, it can only improve the neighbourhood and inspire others to do the same. Remember Aurora Bistro and what Jeff started. Nuff said. Can’ t wait to see the new space Rog. Stoked for you guys!

  • http://www.mojo4business.com Sean Sherwood

    Had the opportunity to work with Roger, one of the true class acts in the biz.

    Long overdue to have his own space.

    A personality like that and a passionate food city looking for flavor makes this a guaranteed win.

    Best of luck, knock em dead.

  • http://twitter.com/Hez Hez

    So, Robert, where *should* people open restaurants, then? Shall we designate a special island in False Creek for the “hipsters” so they don’t contaminate the Bukowskian “authenticity” of the Downtown Eastside?

    Having lived at the corner of Cambie & Hastings next to the Woodward’s site for a good deal of the last five years, I’m more convinced now than ever that coexistence and understanding are what will make better humans of us all.

  • Jeff

    I live n Alexander, and am glad these guys are making a go of it. It takes a brave person to open up a business on that block of Carrall, and I for one will be giving it a try. I can almost taste the jerk chicken!

  • http://www.theNEUmusic.com Neuman Mannas

    Calabash gonna be wickeeeed! Can’t wait! Pce @Jake Money for the heads up!

  • Smiff

    Low income earners heading out for a night of dinner and lounging at a place with an antiqe elevator DJ booth and glass sidewalk skylights is a PREPOSTEROUS idea…not to mention a terrible business model.

    These hipsters are using the guise of “being the change” as leverage for a subsidized lease arrangement, and it’s looking more and more like a farce.

  • Scout Magazine

    If you qualified your statements they’d be more interesting. It’s always hard to argue with someone who has so very little to say.

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  • smiff


  • Shaft

    Dear Smiff,

    Do you know anything about the people who are involved in Calabash? Do you know there price points? There involvement in music or the community?
    Do you also realize they are the farthest thing from “hipsters”. Please do some homework before throwing negativity towards other peoples projects or ambitions. Lively up yourself!!

  • LMR

    If anyone cares to look into it, they will find that Caribbean cuisine,(a.k.a. food) is often made from inexpensive ingredients which are handled skillful, thus creating a delicious, filling and often very healthy meal. This makes it very possible to have low-cost lunch or even dinner menu. I am currently reading “Pigtails and Breadfruit” by Austin Clarke., and between that book and the words of my fiancee (from Trinidad) I have to say that Caribbean food is as masterful at making some beautiful out of what is available as any.
    It is easy to believe that this restaurant will be a welcome addition to the diversity of the DTES and not a “hipster” lounge.
    There are so many cultural influence in this style of cooking that it has become a unique and beautiful cuisine all its own. We should all take time to reflect on what can be learn from that, and less time trying to squeeze in any social/political commentary.
    I personally would love an opportunity to work there and learn hands-on about this varied and celebrated cuisine, but will definitely settle for eating alone if I have to ;-). I hope they have authentic Doubles. I hear they are divine.

  • Sara

    I walked past this place today and spoke to the gentlemen inside. They were pretty friendly. Personally, I was less interested in the decor, and more excited about what will be on their menu. I was pretty pleased to hear that they would have doubles, accra, jerk & ox-tail on their menu. There are no GOOD Caribbean-influenced restaurants in Vancouver, which is a shame, because the food is a blend of different cultures and histories intermingling to create absolutely delicious food.

    I was born in the West Indies, so I hope they bring it and deliver the goods =P

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