VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #237 | If It Had More “Horseshoe” Lunch Counters

July 2, 2014.

the-only

by Andrew Morrison | A couple of years ago I was reminded of the enduring attractiveness of horseshoe-shaped lunch counters while exploring the hot messes that were the interiors of The Only (the once legendary restaurant with the spectacular sea horse neon signage) and The Logger’s Social Club directly above it. Both establishments were in shocking states of disrepair, but the integrity and beauty of their once bustling lunch counters was still plainly obvious…

Just the way they were shaped – to allow for omnipresent service and customer interaction (chairs bolted to the ground) – tickles my fancy to this day. Of course, Vancouver used to boast well over a dozen eateries that showcased seating in this style (eg. The Aristocratic), the most impressive among them being the beautifully stark cafeteria in the old Waterfront Station building (see below)…

Lunch-Counter

As to why the style went out of fashion is a mystery to me. Perhaps it has something to do with maximizing a dining room’s seating capacity, or maybe it’s about the increasingly anti-social nature of the modern, smartphone-wielding customer who doesn’t want to see or talk to anyone or be seen to be dining alone. But if that were true, why are communal tables so popular today? Horseshoe lunch counters and communal tables are essentially the same thing, except the former affords customers a little more personal space (in front) and allows for much better service (in between). Did restaurant designers simply forget about them? What ever the truth of it may be, I’d like to see more.

4549516747_ac16c19357_z

The only complete horseshoe lunch counter that I know of that currently serves customers in Vancouver is the one inside Acme Cafe at 51 West Hastings (above). I say “complete” horseshoe because there are others that are broken up at the apex by a service station (I’m thinking of Moderne Burger on the West Side). It’s only four years old, which is to say that the style is still practical, even in the age of wifi. Alas, contrary to today’s norm, you’ll find no signal inside. Nor will you find an outlet to power your laptop. Owner Peggy Hoffman explains that this is by design to encourage customers to interact with one another. “So many relationships have started right here,” she told me proudly this afternoon while motioning to her lunch counter. It draws a lot of single diners, she added. “Once it’s full, you can’t tell who’s single any more.”

MORE CIVIC IMPROVEMENTS

  • Wzy

    Surrey has a few, I think. Like Round up.

  • http://rommy.gha.ly rommy

    Does the Ovaltine Cafe not have a horseshoe counter? I can’t remember but I thought it did.

  • lrothney

    This was a good way to meet people. ” Pass the sugar please” and then start a conversation. Seems people are so cold now.

The scout Community

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters Abbey, The Abigail’s Party Acorn Alibi Room Araxi Ask For Luigi Bambudda Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Beach House Bearfoot Bistro Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe Bel Café Bestie Beta5 Chocolates Biltmore Cabaret Bishop’s Bistro Pastis Bistro Wagon Rouge Bitter Tasting Room Bittered Sling Blacktail Florist Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar Bottleneck Bufala Burdock & Co. Butter On The Endive Cadeaux Bakery Café Medina Caffè Artigiano Campagnolo Campagnolo ROMA Cannibal Cafe Chambar Chefs’ Table Society of BC Chewies Oyster Bar Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie  Chicha Chocolate Arts Cibo Trattoria Cinara CinCin Ristorante Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill Commune Cafe Cuchillo Culinary Capers Catering Curious Oyster Catering Co. District Brasserie Diva At The Met Doi Chaang Coffee Co. Earnest Ice Cream East Of Main Cafe Edible Canada El Matador Espana Exile Bistro Farm 2 Fork Farmer’s Apprentice Fish Counter Forage Grain Greenhorn Espresso Bar Hapa Izakaya Hart House Harvest Community Foods Hawksworth Restaurant Heirloom Vegetarian Homer Street Cafe & Bar Irish Heather Joy Road Catering Juice Truck Keefer Bar Krokodile Pear L’Abattoir La Buca La Mezcaleria La Pentola La Quercia La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop Lazy Gourmet Les Amis du Fromage Little District Local Philosophy Catering Lolita’s South Of The Border Cantina Los Cuervos Taqueria & Cantina Lukes General Store Lupo Restaurant Maenam Mamie Taylor’s MARKET by Jean-Georges Matchstick Coffee Roasters Meat & Bread Miku Restaurant Milano Coffee Minami Miradoro Mogiana Coffee Nicli Antica Pizzeria Notturno Nuba Oakwood Canadian Bistro Oyama Sausage Co. Oyster Seafood & Raw Bar Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) Pallet Coffee Roasters Parker, The Pat’s Pub & BrewHouse Pidgin Pink Elephant Thai Pizza Fabrika Pizzeria Farina Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn Pourhouse Prado Cafe Railtown Cafe Rain Or Shine Ice Cream Rainier Provisions Re-Up BBQ Red Wagon, The Revolver Coffee Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Salt Tasting Room Salty Tongue Café Savoury Chef Settlement Building Shameful Tiki Room Shebeen Whisk(e)y House Shelter Sidecut | Four Seasons Whistler Siena Six Acres Spotted Bear Tableau Bar Bistro Tacofino Tapenade Bistro Tavola Terra Breads The Stable House Thierry Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie Timbertrain Coffee Roasters Truffles Fine Foods Two Rivers Specialty Meats Urban Digs Farm Uva Wine Bar Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana West Restaurant Wildebeest Wolf In The Fog YEW seafood + bar

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .