DINER: West Pender’s Much-Loved Finch’s Opening A New Market Cafe In Strathcona

by Andrew Morrison | Finch’s Tea & Coffee House, the legendary lunch spot at 353 West Pender, is opening up a second location called Finch’s Market this September. The new cafe and market is currently under construction at 501 East Georgia in the heart of Strathcona. It’s worth getting into a tizzy over because owners Jamie Smith and Sheryl Matthews have only ever dealt in awesomeness at the original Finch’s, and the market aspect of the new location gives them an opportunity to shine in a different way. In addition to the soups, sandwiches, coffees and teas that we’ve come to know and love in the last 8 years (yes, we can expect the same blue-brie, pear, and prosciutto baguettes), we can anticipate lots of organic produce and artisan foods on the shelves (ie. a nice daily market), plus house made ice creams, popsicles and more. The property was until very recently a tiny grocery called U-Go-To Store, and it was one of those sketchy places where once could fairly question the provenance of the stock (even the candy bars were stale). About a month ago, the tenant, who had converted the rear of the shop into a 3 bedroom apartment, just up and moved back to China. When I met Jamie at the space today, all the dividing walls had been knocked down to reveal what was really a 1000+ sqft. space with old brick walls and original beams (these had previously been boarded up). The actual physical position of the building means that once the windows, too, are sorted out, light will spill in like mad. Suffice it to say, if you’ve ever been to Finch’s, you know the end result is going to be a cozy den of withering charm. It’s literally a block from the Scout office, so we’re stoked that something of quality is on its way in. I’m going to have a hell of a lot more detail on the upcoming place in my next WE column, so look out for the paper next Thursday. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures…



31 Responses to “DINER: West Pender’s Much-Loved Finch’s Opening A New Market Cafe In Strathcona”

  1. Wendy on May 24th, 2012 5:09 pm

    That’s fantastic news! The original Finch’s is so, so lovely. And who can walk past a brie, grape and walnut baguette sandwich. Not me, that’s for sure.

  2. Lani Russwurm on May 24th, 2012 10:40 pm

    By “something of quality” I’m guessing you mean yet another overpriced yuppie enclave. I presume U-Go-2-Store/Fungs was forced out by crazy high rent – after all, there’s only so much profit that can be made from selling candy to elementary school kids.

    Thank goodness for the low-income housing projects in Strath that’ll at least limit the Kitsilanoization of the neighbourhood to some degree.

  3. Scout Magazine on May 25th, 2012 12:03 am

    You presume incorrectly, and by “something of quality” I mean just that. It’s Finch’s, not Hawksworth, so maybe dial down the knee jerk gentrification conclusions. I’m pretty much next door, so it’s my familiarity of what was that makes me glad of what will be. U Go To was one of the worst corner stores in the city. Nice folks, and fine for a pack of smokes and Mr. Noodles, but they didnt give a damn about quality, which was something that even the kids at Strathcona Elementary knew. Have you ever had to spit out a chocolate bar that you bought with your allowance because it was older than you?

  4. finch on May 25th, 2012 5:41 am

    Finch’s in essence is a reaction to gentrification, i wanted to make a nitty gritty down town cafe and not a pole up yer bum yuppie enclave! I am happier than a pig in poo to be off main St. and in a neighbourhood like strath, and it’s only been made possible by the property owners NOT seeking “market rate rents” that has made this next venture possible…


  5. Lani Russwurm on May 25th, 2012 9:45 am

    I know of one person who recently had to move out of the Jackson (upstairs) after more than 2 decades of calling it home because of rent increases. That’s hardly a unique case in this neighbourhood (& city) for both residential & commercial spaces, so I’m not sure how my assumptions (different from conclusions) are knee-jerk.

    I haven’t been to Finch’s other location, so I’ll take your word for it being a worthwhile joint until I try it for myself. My reservations are more about the context than any individual establishment. The plain old corner stores have all but disappeared from Strathcona proper and there are already 3 cafe/markets within spitting distance of the Jackson that cater to basically the same narrow demographic. It’s all very charming, but also kind of alienating and depressing.

  6. Jenn Hicks on May 25th, 2012 10:27 am

    YES! this is so exciting. Finch’s not only offers the best sandwiches in town, but they are run by extremely wonderful people…

    About a month ago, i made a lunch time trek from my office in Chinatown to Finch’s because it was my birthday, and i wanted to celebrate with a Finch’s sandwich. I called in my order while en route, and arrived only to discover i’d forgotten my wallet! Ashamed and mad that I’d potentially ruined my own birthday lunch, the Finch’s guy told me to just get them next time. It made my day! Good people still exist. And they run amazing sandwich shops.

    Can’t wait til September!

  7. Scout Magazine on May 25th, 2012 10:42 am

    The rent increase ship sailed some five years ago, so if your friend was still paying $500 a month for a 1 bedroom apartment or $1000 for a 2 bedroom in 2012, she was one of the very last. Nevertheless, I get the general lament/anxiety. I don’t want to see the character of my neighbourhood eroded or priced out of my reach either. That being said, would I rather see a commercial space languish or be maintained in a shit way than have something really good take it over? Of course not. As a consequence, I can’t see the coming of Finch’s Market as anything other than a net positive for the community.

    PS. The plain old corner stores have not “all but disappeared”. Benny’s, Union, Hawkes & Hastings, and Campbell & Keefer are still going strong. What’s more, U Go To wasn’t priced out, the owner just up and left without warning.

  8. elliot on May 25th, 2012 10:50 am

    I saw the renos the other day and was wondering what was going down. This is great news. agreed that U Go 2 was the worst. agreed that finch’s is indeed something of quality. let’s eat!

  9. Clinton on May 25th, 2012 11:18 am


  10. Songbird on May 25th, 2012 11:19 am

    Three cheers for Finch’s 2! I’ve been eatin’ sandies at their joint on Pender since Artigiano had 5 shops and Mr. Morrison was writing for Urban Diner. Very happy to hear that they are still so successful – it’s damn hard these days finding a quaint cafe that doesn’t play Pitchfork’s top 10 albums & use 20 adjectives to describe a cup of coffee!

    Lani, ease up man. Finch’s is on our side. Trust me.

  11. Loree Cameronq on May 25th, 2012 12:56 pm

    Finch’s makes my favourite sandwich in the city (you know the one: brie, walnut, prosciutto….) and I think Strathcona is a perfect fit for them. Hooray!

    @ Lani: Finch’s is about as far from a chain like Starbucks as you can get — I think I can safely say that Strathcona will never be anything like Kitsilano.

  12. Scout Magazine on May 25th, 2012 1:07 pm

    ^ “Strathcona will never be anything like Kitsilano.” Agreed, though I wouldn’t mind a stronger ocean breeze.

  13. Geoffro on May 25th, 2012 1:12 pm

    The only thing in life that is inevitable is change. Strathcona will change. Kitsilano changed. Gastown changed. In the meantime, I’m gonna eat me some goddamn sammiches.

    Re: Ocean breeze. When the viaducts come down and False Creek is extended into Chinatown, you’ll get your breeze.

  14. Jerry Incognito on May 25th, 2012 1:24 pm

    I’m not sure what plain old corner stores Lani might be referring to having disappeared in Strathcona, Benny’s has been in the same spot since 1912, the Union Market since the 30′s.. The only ‘recent’ corner store closure I can think of was at Union and Jackson – in the eighties!

    The REAL disappearing act has been the shops, stores and diners that used to line Hastings between Main and Campbell. What was a thriving affordable strip not 20 years ago; with the Dutch deli, Freybe’s deli, the Sunsrise Grocery (not that one), Princess Cafe, ABC diner, Ringo’s and easily a dozen other small businesses has all but disappeared.

    Karen, the owner of U-Go-To left to return to China, not because of rent increases or gentrification – but because she wanted to return to her homeland after her father’s death (it was originally his store) it was a tedious nickle-and-dime business (literally) and she could not find a buyer.

    I for one am happy to see that spot remain a business to serve local residents – rather than yet another condo conversion…

  15. Jen on May 25th, 2012 1:25 pm

    SOOO excited for me. I hope the neighbourhood embraces the new Finch’s. I ordered a “house salad with prosciutto” for lunch today to celebrate! I love this news.

  16. Scout Magazine on May 25th, 2012 1:31 pm

    Well said, Jerry, and worth noting that those Hastings exits weren’t a consequence of gentrification.

  17. Lc on May 25th, 2012 2:08 pm

    I heard they were considering opening up another cafe, so glad to hear it’s in the works!!
    I wonder where the organic produce will come from, will Jamie and Sheryl grow any themselves?

  18. bro on May 25th, 2012 3:16 pm

    “Kitsilanoization” lol
    last time I checked having grocery stores in my neighbourhood was pretty sweet.

  19. Your bro AM on May 26th, 2012 10:34 am

    I hope someone saves that U-Go-To-Store sign. A Vancouver classic.

  20. Bonfire Maiden on May 31st, 2012 1:33 pm

    Will you sell cigarettes? 5-10 cent candy bags? That’s one of the things low income neighbors have lost with Fungs. Sure their candy might not be the “freshest,” but for 10 cents you have enough to share with your friends.

  21. STRATHCONA EATS AND SHOPS | Crawford Row on May 31st, 2012 9:04 pm

    [...] Finch’s has been flourishing on Pender street for years, and now they are opening a new location right in the heart of Strathcona. Setting up shop at the corner of Jackson and E. Georgia, the new shop will open below “The Jackson” apartment building at 501 E. Georgia. Scout Magazine did a great article: http://scoutmagazine.ca/2012/05/24/diner-west-penders-much-loved-finchs-opening-a-new-market-bistro-… [...]

  22. Ly on June 28th, 2012 12:46 am

    While I love Finch’s (best sandwiches in the city) and I’m happy they’re moving into the neighbourhood, I can’t help but be a little perturbed by you demeaning U-To-Go.

    I grew up in Strathcona as well and these little shops define the character of the area. I know Finch’s has probably paid for you to write a promotional article about them (through Scout membership), but was there really a need to have that “good riddance, immigrant” slant to the piece? It’s as if you’re trying to justify Finch’s overtaking of the space. You don’t need that. Finch’s doesn’t need that. If anything, you’re doing wrong by Finch’s.

    You don’t need to build one store’s legacy by destroying another’s. As Jerry mentioned, the previous owner, Karen, was doing the best she could — the story of many in that area before it suddenly became prime hipster real estate. She had to leave under less than fortunate circumstances, probably not because of some shady business practices by way of chocolate bars.

    You did the same thing when you wrote about Oyster Express: “The space was a cheap Chinese import shop that dealt in T-shirts and the like until Chesney and his partner Soran picked it up back in December.” White saviour complex, anyone? It so happens the owner was a friend of my mother’s and others in the community. To dismiss and denounce her store in a short, snarky sentence is just not cool, considering these “cheap imports” and “T-shirts and the like” had a place and a reason to be available for sale in the neighbourhood.

    These mom and pop shops are disappearing, but neighbourhoods change, I get it. It’s sad if these places are forgotten. But what’s even more sad is if their memory is scoffed at in the name of promoting some other business.

    Please be more mindful of the people in this community which you supposedly have pride in. Not everyone runs artisanal specialty stores, nor should they.

  23. Scout Magazine on June 28th, 2012 1:34 am

    Some fair points, Ly, but some very unkind ones as well. I live in this community, and if I happen to prefer something to another, I should be encouraged to venture that opinion. I wasn’t scoffing, denouncing or destroying a legacy, and it’s a pretty horrendous stretch to state flat-out that my expressions of appetite cleave to an anti-immigrant bent. And it was equally unfair of you to suggest that Finch’s paid me to write a “promotional” article. I don’t do that. Finch’s is not a member of Scout’s GOODS section, and even if they were, that’s not how GOODS works. Members publish job opportunities and press releases for a small annual fee. That’s all. They write them themselves, and we label their posts very clearly (in the headline and subheader). We use it for local small businesses to get the word out on what they’re doing, and for our readers to finds jobs. I hope that’s very clear. This piece on Finch’s was just me being thrilled about getting sandwiches and groceries on my corner. The Oyster House story was about me getting fresh oysters two blocks away. I don’t rejoice at every change in my neighbourhood, but if you’d be so kind as to allow these two without making me out to be some insensitive, racist, classist shithead, that would be cool.

  24. Loree on June 28th, 2012 11:12 am

    Whoah, Ly… OFFSIDE.

    I don’t know how you interpreted all of THAT (“Good riddance, immigrant”?, “White Saviour complex”??) from those brief articles. Take it down a notch.

    Jeez Andrew, this food writing gig is rough!

  25. Echo on July 19th, 2012 2:04 pm

    This is awesome! I LOVE Finch’s but never went as often as I would’ve liked in an effort to avoid the horrible lunchtime “downtown office” crowd that inevitably took over everyday. Adding a location in Strathcona is the best idea they’ve come up with since Pear, Prosciutto and blue Brie sandwiches!
    Do you know if that delicious baguette they serve the sandwiches on will be available to buy in the store?
    Can’t wait!

  26. Bart on November 18th, 2012 10:54 pm

    Any updates?

  27. Scout Magazine on November 18th, 2012 11:06 pm

    We have a close eye on it. Nearly there.

  28. Jen on December 15th, 2012 8:21 pm

    When, oh when will they open? Any accurate guess?

  29. Scout Magazine on December 15th, 2012 8:25 pm

    Thursday/Friday were dry runs with family + neighbours. Monday is my guess.

  30. Danielle on December 17th, 2012 4:56 pm

    I have lived in Strathcona for many years, and you know what? I am thrilled that not only another cool place is opening to enhance our hood, but one that I have eaten at before, and loved! And yes, it rather jumping the gun with the “white saviour complex” remark. Wow.

    Welcome to Strathcona Finche’s! Can’t wait to come by and hang out!

  31. Zen on December 20th, 2012 2:21 pm

    Any chance there will be gluten free options available ? :-)