by Andrew Morrison | Gastown’s award-winning L’Abattoir restaurant has secured the building directly at its back (the original Shebeen) with plans to employ its 2,400 sqft as a private dining facility for a seated max of 50 people and 100 standing.
Tucked in what is now being referred to as the Water St. Garage between the rear-end of L’Abattoir and the new but ill-fated Boneta and between Water St. and Blood Alley, it is one of the oldest original brick structures in Vancouver (if not the oldest). Its most recent tenants were the short-loved Apres-Midi Teahouse and a retail outlet for Haven. If you poke your head in or look through the windows, you’ll see that the place is already gutted. The interior is going to be completely redone. Owners Lee Cooper and Paul Grunberg will be building a new second floor, which will be the dining room, and reserving the main floor for their offices and a brand new state of the art kitchen complete with a pastry op that will occupy the lovely wainscotted bay window addition seen in the photo above (bottom left).
So why go through the trouble of expanding like this just for private functions? Why not built it into a completely new restaurant? “We figured that instead of spreading and spending ourselves thin that it would be smarter to extrapolate our brand and reputation into the private realm,” Grunberg explained. “It hurts to have to turn away bookings of 20 and groups of 50 to 100, and we do it all the time at the restaurant. We’re just not equipped to do with the demand. The expansion is about keeping our talent in the same place and not dividing it up so that half the team is in one location and the other somewhere else. That’s a classic move. A lot of restaurateurs do it, but Lee and I are operational types. We’re hands on. So this is really more about maintaining control and very high standards while giving many of our customers what we haven’t yet been able to give them.” Grunberg also says that the design of the new space will be in keeping with the aesthetics of the original L’Abattoir, albeit “a little more refined.”
And what of lunch? Cooper informs me that we can expect three starters, three mains and three desserts to choose from, plus a small a la carte section. It’s too soon, he says, to provide specifics, but he assures me of one thing: “There will be a beef dip. I want a good beef dip.” So do I! The only two places that I know of that do passable beef dips are Pat’s Pub and White Spot, so there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement on that score.
We can expect construction to pick up after the holidays and the finished room to start accepting bookings for the Spring. Lunch service will launch shortly thereafter.