SEEN IN VANCOUVER #426: The Slow Bean & Culture Club At 99 W. Pender (At Abbott)

by Rommy Ghaly | Have you walked past the repurposed Budget Rent-A-Car lot on the northeast corner of Abbott and Pender in recent months and wondered what the hell? Of course you have.

Back in June of last year, a local videographer named Mairin Cooley took over the building under the auspices of DOVA (Drop Out Video Arts), a local arts and culture non-profit. Inside, she opened The Nines’ Slow Bean & Culture Club. It’s a cafe that doubles as an artist-run center, meeting place and gallery (and vice versa), the intention being “to use this building to boldly express, support, foster, and experiment with the kinds of cultural programming that mostly happens in the underground scene of Vancouver.”

And so, from 11am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, it serves up tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes at ridiculously affordable prices – $5 for a bowl (curry/stew served over rice) and $8 for a bowl and a salad – making it so that anyone who walks in off the street can take some time out to enjoy a good, healthy, midday meal without having to worry that much about cost or clogged arteries.

At night when the food service shuts, DOVA steps up to organize exhibitions, regular game evenings (last Thursday of every month), movie nights, speakers, and pretty much anything else that could be deemed interesting, fun, and in the interests of community building.

Stop and check it out next time. It’s at 99 West Pender — hence the “Nines” in the name.


Rommy Ghaly was born and raised in New York. He’s spent the past sixteen years moving around from city to city and country to country, trying (and failing miserably) to find himself. You may see him out in the streets with his cameras taking photos of people he doesn’t know. The results of those adventures can be found at

There are 7 comments

  1. They could have asked some ‘artist’ friends to have designed their signage. That goddamn cat stares into my soul every day when i walk to work.

    I feel it’s a bad stereotype of itself, or accurately a perfect example. A vegan/vegetarian cultural hub, that’s half-assed designed with a vague modus operandi.

    I wish I could take it seriously without considering it looks like it was put together by a jr. high drama club findraiser.

    I’m awful, i get it.

  2. Ciaran,

    They serve inexpensive & filling healthy food to all kinds of people (the going rate for moules frites up the street is a tad bit inaccessible for some DTES residents, no?) – and provide a space for artists etc. How is that vague?!

    I’d sooner support this ‘bad stereotype’ than the other ‘bad stereotypes’ that are filling up the empty spaces in Gastown.

    The signage is fun & welcoming – something Gastown could use more of these days. It’s a nice little throwback to the bygone era of beatniks & hippies. I’m sure the idea is to get people in off the street with its quirkiness.

    Awful? Perhaps you’re just a wee bit insecure, no?

  3. I must be awful too, but I’m with Ciaran.

    Also, I wouldn’t expect the place to be around for that long. Salient Group originally proposed a Bing Thom designed building on that lot. But in 2011 sold it to Kenstone Properties for $8.3 million. Condos!

  4. It’s a cat with freaky, contorted human arms and the dead, unrelenting gaze of Sauron!
    Maybe I am insecure that what’s left of my soul will be consumed by 9ines the cat.
    However I invite it opening up rather than a new milestones or cactus club.

  5. Yes, the sign and interior are tacky but no more tacky than other places new or old in the area. Frankly, I prefer this grandmother’s basement, junior high drama club look to the neon brightness and pretentiousness of Secret Location.

    That fact that they didn’t spend money on decor means they can keep the costs of the food down. Yes, they are there temporarily just like the SOLEfood urban gardens on the Concord land. It takes time to get permits for the development of condos and I’m glad it is not the drug addict campout it was this spring, that looked worse and scary to walk by.

    The cat and signage is not well done but it offends my eyes as much as those purple backlit people standing on each others shoulders on the 60 W Cordova building and that is a brand new condo.

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