Late last week I met up with Claudine Michaud, owner of Kitsilano’s Bioéthique Spa, on the eastern edge of Chinatown. She and her husband Kieren Beattie have been hard at work at three interconnected spaces at the foot of the Fan Tower at Gore and Keefer (611, 617, 619) for over a year now, and each address will be its own business operating on its own opening schedule. To wit, 619 will be another Bioéthique and will open at some point next year; 617 will see an as-yet-unnamed organic cafe launching in the Fall; and coming in June at 611 will be an ice cream shop called – wait for it – Fluffy Kittens.
Thinking that name might just be an elaborate April Fool’s joke, I later emailed Claudine about it origins. She replied that it had come to her in a flash, “and we thought it was perfect since everyone loves fluffy kittens (and if they don’t they don’t deserve ice cream)”. I love it. I also dig the idea of another ice cream shop to serve Strathcona and Chinatown (La Casa Gelato can get prohibitively busy in the summer).
I also like that these addresses – dormant for quite some time – are opening up again. The space at 619, for example, has been shuttered for well over a decade. Though I would have (selfishly) preferred a reincarnation of the restaurant that it used to be (Kim Heng Noodles) or at least something more umbilically attached to the history and culture of the neighbourhood than a holistic day spa (I have no room in my noodle budget for facials), life goes on and I shall take comfort in good coffee and ice cream. It was nevertheless fascinating to walk the creaky old space and see and identify where the woks used to be, where the dumbwaiter was once positioned, and where all the noodle production went down. Few things fascinate me more than the stratified archaeology of restaurants, and I tip my hat to Claudine — a very able Prof.
But back to Fluffy Kittens (I will never get tired of that name) … it will carry only locally made, hand-crafted artisan ice cream, gelato and frozen treats. That means products from the local likes of Nice Vice, Brown Paper Packages, Johnny Pops, and Artisto Gelato, among others. “All of these will be served from glass dipping cabinets so people can see how yummy the frozen treats look before they choose their flavour,” she explained.
All three spaces are unique in their own way. Fluffy Kittens in the smallest of the lot at about 650 sqft, but it has soaring ceilings and beautiful old bones. The other two are much larger with more elaborate character elements (great beams and pillars, plank flooring, frontages, etc.). As you can see from the images below, there is much work left to do in all three. Take a look…