Coming to Yaletown is Charlie’s Restaurant and Bar. If all goes according to plan, it’ll open in the old Pinky’s/LK Dining Lounge address at 1265 Hamilton Street in the first week of February. I took in a tour of the construction site earlier today and much of what was Pinky’s has been swept away. They’ve kept all of the sexy, over-sized black leather horseshoe booths (albeit re-arranged), as well as the u-shaped bar, though the televisions are going to be removed and a light fixture spanning six feet will take their place. The FOH break down sees a 21 seat lounge, an 80 seat dining room, and a 15-20 seat bar. With luck, the patio will come online in time for summer.
The food, the province of Montreal import chef Brian Ritchot, will follow a mostly casual and contemporary Italian theme. The emphasis will be on share plates and pizzas (nothing fried), with ten 12 inch versions of the latter ballpark-priced between $14 and $19. The bar program, led by former Aurora Bistro GM Daniel Hawkins, will feature 8-10 signature and classic cocktails, nothing too frou frou but built from house made infusions, fresh juices, et cetera.
For those who know Australia well enough (that counts me out), owner Nicholas Foley (an Aussie) found the inspiration for Charlie’s from Hugo’s in Sydney, a feverishly popular lounge specialising in pizzas and cocktails, and incidentally the once-upon-a-time home to this year’s Vancouver magazine Bartender of the Year, Josh Pape (co-owner of The Diamond in Gastown). Though Foley has never owned a restaurant before, he worked in the Oz wine trade for eight years and is a consummate food lover. He also toiled (and I assume did fairly well) in finance, a field in which his plow has remained active since moving to Canada three years ago.
With both LK Dining Lounge and Pinky’s having previously failed here, one can’t help but wonder at the legs and underlying wisdom of the project. The whole block has a history of mercilessly roughing up new entrants. That said, the new Glowbal Group restaurant next door, Society, appears to be doing fine despite being absolutely flattened for being ridiculous on several levels in the press, while neighbouring Charm Modern Thai is on the cusp of becoming the longest tenant to survive at its address in half a decade (RIP Diner/Lucky Diner/Flite). Perhaps this particular stretch of Hamilton is on the up and up. It’s a funny old game that way. So who knows? For certain, we’ll crossing our fingers for a solid showing, and naturally wishing them all the luck in the world. Once again, opening day is scheduled for the first week of February, just prior to some sort of mass sporting event that people seem to be getting excited about. Here’s hoping they have their ducks in a row.