DINER: New Eatery “Tuc Craft Kitchen” Opening This Spring At 60 West Cordova St.

by Andrew Morrison | The new building at 60 West Cordova (off Abbott) in Gastown is going to see a 90 seat eatery called Tuc Craft Kitchen open on its ground floor at some point this Spring (if the planets align and all goes according to plan, it could be up and running as soon as late March).

It’s the second project from restaurateurs Colin Ross and James MacFarlane, who together own the Milestones location at Cambie and 8th. Joining them is chef Roy Flemming, a local hotel veteran (Radisson, Wall Center) who came out west via several restaurants in Montreal (Le Marais, Le Vieux Pecheur).

Nice guys, and industry lifers, too. I met Flemming and MacFarlane at their busy construction site the other day, and from what I gathered it sounds like they’re aiming to serve fun but sophisticated comfort food, with the menu changing as often as the seasons. The word “local” was thrown around, too, and in context with ingredients. Permit me my doubts. In the restaurant business, there are few terms more abused than “local” these days. The original usage of it is badly wounded, run over by a Sysco truck and then shot in the knees by a green-washing PR hack just doing his job. I can’t say if that’s the case with Tuc, but let’s just say I’ll believe it when I see them buying CSA subscriptions and building relationships with local farmers.

Regardless of the sourcing, the food still sounded promising. “It’s like you go to a friend’s house for dinner and that friend is a chef,” MacFarlane explained. When pressed for dish examples, he and Flemming offered up hanger steak bourguignon (a “deconstruction”), parsnip fritters, pork belly, crackling (mmm), tagine, and so on, with many of them served in cast iron skillets. Price points should be in the $3-$22 range, with a rib-eye likely coming in below $30. As far as their cocktail program is concerned, I think they’re looking for speed of execution above all else (ie. not the place to order an Old Fashioned).

Like I said, it all sounds tasty enough. The only thing that has me wary is the branding. The graphic looks like it was designed for a construction subsidiary of Concord Pacific (reminiscent of Yaletown’s R.TL), and the name itself – Tuc Craft Kitchen – is on the weak side of lame. It’s the word “tuck” – as in “tuck into some food” or “tuck shop” – but with the letter “K” removed for no good reason that I can fathom except for the vague hope that it might make it cooler. (Because, you know…Gastown.) I’m also assuming that the “Craft Kitchen” suffix is merely a redundant reminder to all comers that the restaurant actually has a kitchen, and that cooking is indeed a craft. I further suspect that they’re just a couple of pointless marketing buzzwords, and when you attach two buzzwords to a third word minus a perfectly good consonant, that makes three buzzwords, and three buzzwords are always better than just one. Or something.

But what’s in a name? They could have called it something much worse, like Social Tasting Kitchen Wet Bar & Secret Gastro Craft Resto Lounge, and we all would have laughed deep and long and heartily (I just trademarked that, Gershkowitz, so back the hell off). The truth is that there are plenty of horrifically named restaurants in Vancouver that are well worth a visit. It’s just that if the food, service, and atmosphere invite derision as easily as the identity does, then the market will do what it did to Space Lounge, Shaken Not Stirred, and other recent disasters — it will studiously avoid the address except to giggle at it from a safe distance in spasms of schadenfreude.

How likely is that scenario? Not very, because the safe money is on Gastown these days. If a place serving Red Bull-flavoured chicken wings can thrive and the laughable Secret Location has yet to burn down in an insurance scam, then anything is possible. What’s more, considering how the owners all come from the tightly controlled world of corporate restaurants, they probably have their systems dialed in like a diamond mine’s.

The space itself is full of opportunity: a long, thin concrete box with very high ceilings. To dress it up, they’re employing a lot of materials that they reclaimed from a recent demolition on 2nd Avenue. “We have old growth fir planks, tongue and groove yellow cedar and fir; all formerly structural and floor materials” MacFarlane says. He adds that the south and east walls of the restaurant will be covered in old tin found on a farm in Oregon.  The closed kitchen at the back looks tiny, but it’s big enough to do the job. Above it is a freshly constructed mezzanine that will end up seating 30. A 10 stool bar faces the remaining 50 seats in the main floor’s dining room. Big picture windows at the front will bring in at least some natural light, which should make the fir, cedar, and tin rather happy.

As you can see from the shots above and renderings below, they still have a ways to go…



Andrew Morrison is the editor-in-chief of Scout and BC’s Senior Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and TV shows on local food, culture and travel. He live and works in the vibrant Strathcona neighbourhood, where he also collects inexpensive things and enjoys birds, skateboards, whisky, shoes, many songs, and the smell of wood fires.

There are 41 comments

  1. and yet the Chronic Tacos on Water Street has (seemingly) shut down and the carpet shop is going going out of business so perhaps there’s hope for gastown yet (Secret Location notwithstanding) …

  2. It’s a think piece, about a mid level restaurant struggling with their own limitations in the harsh face of Gastown.

    I’d prefer to hear about an opening where someone said; ‘we’re going to most likely cook what we feel like. Sometimes the seasons will happen to coincide with the menu and that will be really cool. We’re going to be local in that we’ll use the 604 prefix to dial Sysco or GFS and our food will taste good. It will be a mix of fine, casual, comfort, spicy, asian, soul food that focuses on any demographic that can pay the bills.
    Our cocktail list will be classic focused until we notice that our neighbours do it better than us and then we’ll probably switch to cosmo’s and vodka sodas ’cause that’s what people drink on the weekend. After that we’ll focus on value driven beer and wine or as we like to call it granville island (cause they paid for the taps) and yellow tail because it sells.
    We’re hoping that the city passes our name but after the recent law banning douchey names such as craft, wet bar, social and gastro to ever be used in Vancouver again, we’re at a total loss of what to call ourselves. We’re thinking ‘Blah’ but it might not stick.’

  3. Wow, a bit harsh Andrew. I think the concept is good and like that it is not following a hipster brand. Also looking forward to leaving a new Gastown restaurant full for a change.

  4. @Scout – Nailed it.

    @ Philip – If by “hipster brand” you mean a place that is independent and trying to do interesting things instead of copying everyone else and doing a shitty job while doing it, then I agree with you.

    @ Tuc Craft Kitchen – That is one hell of a dumb name.

    @ Rudy There’s a law?

  5. Please. There is nothing original in the hipster Gastown thing anymore. From NY to Vancouver, same vintage look everywhere. Want to talk about original, come one. The whole NY vintage look is going on 8+ years now. Let’s get some old school chairs, some vintage hardwood and some vintage industrial lighting and open the doors. At this point, that look has become mainstream.

  6. This article made my morning.

    I bet they’ll have a killer eggs Benny.

    Tuc craf kitch

  7. You know what’s original in Gastown? Secret Location. Gaudy, disgusting … downright confusing — but a helluva lot more original than anything else that’s opened in the last year.

    On another note, I assume Tuc will shock us all by featuring tranny waiters. Hence Tuc.

  8. It’s called TUC because every dish, and a number of the cocktails, will contain TUC crackers as the secret ingredient.

  9. Lots of emotion and judgement around the opening of this place. I think I will wait until they open before I start passing judgement. I hope the food, service and atmosphere proves everyone, including me wrong.

  10. *sigh* This article made Hungry Foodie not Hungry.
    What Gastown needs is a place that serves unorganic bacon/eggs/hashbrowns/toast and drip coffee for $5. I love good food and don’t mind paying for it but I need my cheap grease fix and hate travelling for it.

  11. First of all while I agree with the name being a little weak not every restaurant has to have a huge story behind what it’s called. Secondly there are many restaurants that use words like “local” and “organic” on their menus that don’t actually have local or organic product, that said I think we should support the “trend” of local foods. Let’s give these “nice guys” a chance, maybe the menu will in fact be entirely local. Thirdly, Andrew it is nice that you mean no harm but perhaps you should think about the fact that though not every review can be glowing you should at least wait until the restaurant has opened before slandering it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but when they have a large platform they should stick to what they know, which in this case is restaurants, not branding and design.

  12. Hi Megan,

    Thanks for your comment. I don’t think I’m entirely unqualified to write an opinion on branding or design, but you’re entitled to you doubts, just as I am to mine. This wasn’t a review, so don’t be silly. I wish these guys well enough, and nothing I wrote could be remotely misconstrued as “slanderous”.

  13. Kudos to Andrew for writing an article worth reading. I’m so bored of reading reviews, previews, or other food related articles from Vancouver writers that avoid saying what they really think. In fairness to the guys from Tuc, they deserve to be judged on the end product. None the less, I think this article is a fair statement based on one [qualified] person’s opinion.

  14. Andrew, In fairness, you should publish a review of your numerous visits to Secret Location and thus outline what exactly it is about the food and service that’s so laughable?

  15. Thanks for the comment, Sean. To be clear, what I find so silly about Secret Location is its branding, decor, and concept (or lack thereof). Those things keep me from wanting to dine there. Is that not perfectly natural, and therefore fair?

  16. Local. “There are few terms more abused than “local” these days.”

    Even some of the old school restaurant dinosaurs (that are still roaming the city) say they use ‘Local’ ingredients. To add, even those who open as ‘Local’ soon veer to connivence due popularity, price and volume. Nothing sums it up more when ‘Local’ Albion-Sysco-Blah Blah Blah trucks roll up outside the eatery that claim the ‘Local’ fame.

    Andrew as always your honesty prevails. LMote tweeted a great read on the life of forging http://buff.ly/11sUgN0. That’s ‘Local’ .

    David Everitt-Matthias’ book ‘Essence’ is prime example of the meaning behind the L word.

    If you see a Finest @ Sea truck in front of your favourite spot, then ‘Local’ fish is on the menu. It might not be in season and be previously frozen but, it comes from the waters off B.C.

  17. there are plenty of restaurants that pay foragers to do the foraging. i know one character who makes his living that way.

  18. Just read a good piece by Gill on Forage, a restaurant of laudable conceptualisation and the bucks to boot. Yet the ‘meat & bones’ ,so to speak, of the experience was lacking in her view, and to her credit was well reasoned enough that both the potential diner and restaurant management would benefit in heeding her message.
    I totally get what you mean, just think we can all get a bit carried away with emphasizing aesthetics and ideas above the reality of the experience of dining itself. Ta

  19. Man lots of angry gas town residents on here. Deal with the new places opening. Don’t like it leave. Go back to Alberta or whatever small hick town you moved from. My guess is your angry because none of these places mentioned that you wish would burn down want you in their establishment. These places are meant for people that can afford it. Not 30k millionaires renting a 500sq foot condo because they will never be able to afford a home in a city that they did not grow up in. Go eat at chronic tacos. More in your price range. These places are run by educated and experienced people not some Internet warriors who think 2 years at lethbridg community college makes them educated. I guess constantly getting beaten down by drunk step dad as child has made you guys angry and bitter. That sucks for you!! Now please run along and don’t be jealous of the popular crowd moving in and pushing you out. That’s life. Maybe it’s time to go back to manitoba instead of pretending to be from Vancouver when all you did was move here you inbred hicks.

  20. Wow @facts

    What the hell are you smoking? That was the most non-sensical rant I’ve ever read.
    Go back to Alberta/Manitoba? Where’s that coming from. Most of the people posting on here live and work in this hood and have probably invested more blood, sweat and tears into it than you could understand but more importantly why the hate on for the Prairies?
    30K Millionaire? First of all, I don’t know what the hell that means. Secondly, you’re saying they are a millionaire that rents that is too good for the food but can’t afford a home? I’m so confused by this comment I think you actually made us all dumber for reading it.
    When did Chronic Tacos become a high priced joint?
    Did you flunk out of Lethbridge? Seems to be a bit of a personal note there. Maybe you came up with the creative Tuc Craft Kitchen name and everyone hit a nerve?
    Leaving the abuse comment alone, that’s just pathetic.
    And now the ‘popular crowd’ is ‘moving in?’ Ahh now I see, you are the one that actually just moved here aren’t you? Fresh off the bus from the big TO with your marketing degree and a year as a line cook. Popular Crowd? Seriously? Have you ever worked in this neighbourhood? Lived in it? You sound like some high school jack off that’s too cool for everyone else.
    You contradict yourself at every turn and should win the award for worst reader comment of the young year. I honestly was shocked (and saddened) to see that you wrote this at 8:36pm as I was expecting a 3:00am drinking binge excuse.
    I’m pretty sure you sounded like the most angry person out of anyone here and honestly, have you been to Secret Location? They have fucking bottle service for christ’s sake. If that’s your image of affordable, good people you are sad.
    Hell, you probably own it.

  21. I’m confused should I move back to Alberta or Manitoba? All the big words really confused me.

  22. Looks like Rudy is angry. I would be too if my step dad beat on me all the time!!!!

    Live in Gastown?
    Why? So I can sleep with homeless people and drug addicts and wannabe be hipsters who can’t even afford a home so they shack up in 500 sq. foot condos and complain day and night about places in a neighbourhood that for some reason they think they own when all they did was move there?

    Here is a reality check Rudy. You are a small fish. You cannot even afford to own your own place. Thus, when you can afford to open a bar then you can do whatever you want with it, Until then, shut your pie whole, pay your rent, go see your shrink and talk to him about how your drunk step dad used to beat you on the farm back in Alberta.

  23. As for my the for the prairies, the people from the prairies are small ton inbred hicks. You trailer trash move to Vancouver, a city I was born and raised in, and then claim you are form here, You are not. You are from Alberta. It is in your blood. Hence, you are a hick, and hicks should be commenting on stuff that goes on the big city. Now, if we were talking about farms out in the Valley maybe you would have some input, but when it comes to culture, all you know is horse manure and fertilizer. Thus, if you want to comment,go back to the city you grew up in and complain. You are not from here so you have no right to comment, unless of course we were talking about beers, manure, trailer parks, and -40c weather. Yee Haw!

  24. @facts

    You defend the city in one statement and then bash it the next.

    How did someone as ignorent as you ever find a website that supports creative, inspired and forward thinking.

    I’m pissed at myself for wasting my time talking to you.

  25. I’m in a betting mood… what’s the over/under on Facts being involved (ownership/manager etc) with Secret Location? I’ll take the over.

    Andrew: Isn’t “Facts” exactly why you installed the option to moderate comments on your site?

  26. People are fighting for their lives in the neighbourhood and all we can do is moan about what is ‘cool’ enough for Gastown.

  27. Xenophobic much @Facts?

    I personally didn’t enjoy the touch of snark and sanctimony in this article very much myself, but hey, it’s not my website and people can express whatever they like! I generally find what I read here informative and usually interesting, so I will be back.

  28. @Facts You are a sad excuse for a human and based on my experience, when people can’t let something go, they are usually in an indirect way refering to themselves. So I apologize on behalf of your stepdad for messing you up so horribly that you have to attack anonymous posters on the internet.

    Your comments are uneducated, ignorant and classless. People who moved here from the prairies are just as entitled to love this community and immerse themselves in its culture, entertainment, social issues, politics and yes, even its dining options, as someone born and raised. Because if I was from a small “hick” town in Manitoba and a big city hipster like you wanted to move into town and embrace the Western culture and wear stetsons and Wranglers, I’d welcome him with open arms and thank him for wanting to be a part of the community.

    If you had swapped out the word China or Iran for Alberta it would have been a full-on racist rant yet no one seems to hold this idiot accountable for his bigotting ways.

  29. Well said Chickster.

    As far as @Facts is concerned, I believe we have found the source of the Vancouver stereotype – vainglorious, stuck-up and nowhere near as progressive as it claims.

  30. one of the most bullshit reviews I’ve seen about a restaurant. You made all of your argument based of what-ifs, considering the restaurant wasn’t even open when you expressed your jackass hipster opinion.

    Just like a hipster to do, have a strong opinionated view with absolutely nothing to back it up. If you check out their restaurant now, you’d see that it’s better than most and is doing well, not at all in part because of this shite.

    Lol. Keep pretending you have standards, when in fact all you have is arrogance.

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