‘Red Wagon’ In Chrysalis: Inside The East Hastings Institution As Reopening Nears

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As detailed in these pages last month, The Red Wagon in Hastings-Sunrise has gone under the renovations knife. The beloved diner is getting a complete redux — the interior has been gutted and they’re in the midst of rebuilding as we speak. When it reopens in May it will be with a refitted kitchen; new black and white checkered floor; exposed original cedar beam ceiling; a long banquette running the length of the room; the old lunch counter raised to bar height; and a more ordered table/chair arrangement (follow construction via Instagram @redwagoncafe). From what I understand, the soul of the casual neighbourhood joint – once featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives – will retain its blue collar vibe, but it’ll definitely be visibly refreshed.

But it’s much more than just a front and back reno, as owner Brad Miller is keen to point out. He is looking to expand evening business by adding a small cocktail program and retooling the menu with chef Matthew Thompson. The all-day breakfasts, burgers, and such aren’t going anywhere, but they’re aiming to add several suppertime-specific specials that will cleave to the “diner” theme. And during my walk-through of the construction site over the weekend, Brad mentioned a bunch of future possibilities, like building a patio along its Garden Street length (that would be a fine thing, if he can get permission). He also talked about extending the hours until midnight through Sunday, and possibly – eventually – even making The Red Wagon a 24 hour operation for us nighthawks (yes, please).

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