DINER: Josh Pape And James Iranzad To Open 115 Seat Restaurant On Hastings
by Andrew Morrison | Good news, gluttony fans. Local restaurateurs James Iranzad (Abigail’s Party, Cartel) and Josh Pape (former Bartender of the Year, co-owner of The Diamond) have picked up the voluminous, 2,400 sqft space at 120 Hastings across from the Woodwards complex with plans for turning it into a new restaurant and bar by February 2012. They’ve only just signed the lease on the newly renovated (read: empty) location, but trades have nevertheless made their assessments and the keys are in hand. The board is set. The pieces are moving. I can’t wait for this one.
The 100 block of Hastings is on the edge of the DTES proper. It’s been cleaned up a lot in the last year or so, with the scaffolding of renovated buildings having recently being peeled away and SFU Contemporary Arts’ toned and modern buttocks now poking out onto a sizeable stretch of its northern sidewalk. The spot is the main floor of a south side “Heritage B” building just west of Nuba, Meat & Bread, La Taqueria, and Revolver. Newcomers Acme Cafe and Save On Meats are on the next block east (Sean Heather’s Bitter should open there later this month, too). It’s a pretty perfect address, and I trust they got it for a relative song seeing as the block isn’t quite ready – but is nevertheless destined – for prime time. My read is that they couldn’t have chosen any wiser, and that 115 seats won’t be too tricky to fill. If it’s one tenth as popular as I reckon it will be, there will be some who will call Pape and Iranzad “gentrifiers” (which will amuse everyone they know).
After having the rough food concept explained to me, I imagine the kitchen will dish the kind of gutturally expressed but nevertheless refined comfort food that would appeal to carnivorous chefs on their nights off. Think chops, steaks, whole fish, off-cuts, small plates and so on. Think Andrey Durbach, Heidi Noble and Eleanor Chow sitting next to Adam Pegg, Lucais Syme, and Nico Schuermans at the bar drinking proper drinks and being very glad that someone else is doing the cooking. Think Toronto’s Black Hoof and LA’s Animal expressed in Vancouver’s uniquely awesome vernacular (one still hopes for tongue on brioche and BBQ pork belly sandwiches). Think Black Sabbath and early Genesis. I don’t know why, but you should probably just think it.
As for look and feel, I picture a totally feasible set of seeming contradictions: casual but exacting; unpretentious but expert; composed but boisterous; communal but intimate. These guys are two of our best young pros, and they’ll likely attract a top drawer set of staffers, despite the informal set up.
The early sketches I’ve seen depict a bar height banquette backing up to the brick and running the length of the wall to create a narrow service corridor between the facing high chairs and the deeply set, 12 seat bar (overseen by Pape, naturally). An open kitchen follows the line of the bar and leads to a proper chef’s table at the rear. It’s a basic composition, but it will lend itself to the desired communal feel of the concept.
Back at the front right, the plans call for a short staircase being cut into the floor that will lead down to a 500 sqft, low-ceilinged area with potential for 20 seat private dining. That’s all well and good, but this downstairs space is too cool for exclusivity (reminiscent of a miniaturised Calabash basement). A lot of potential. I’m hoping it morphs into a wine lounge with snacks on unbooked nights.
You can stay updated on Scout in the coming weeks as both the chef and the name are confirmed. In the meantime, behold the Rolls Royce passing the Miata above (gentrifiers!) and extend your morning office procrastination by discovering what other delicious things there are to look forward to by clicking below…