Why this Abandoned 19th Century Mansion-Turned-Restaurant Would Suit Railtown

Restaurant Porn is a regular column of daydreams presented as a means to introduce Vancouver diners and designers to concepts, looks, and fully-formed ideas that they might draw an inkling of inspiration from. We do our best to pair the foreign rooms with local addresses so as to let everyone in on the fantasy.

(via) It’s not often that we’re surprised in covering Vancouver’s restaurant scene, especially when it comes to locations. Anyone immersed in it long enough is going to get familiar with the established addresses that change hands over time. But every once in a while an old space that has never had a food and/or beverage operation in it springs into being as if from thin air, announcing its age with soaring ceilings, ancient brick walls, original beams and myriad clues to its previous life as…say…an industrial widget facility far disconnected from the 21st century. A good example of this is the 7,700 sqft Settlement Building at 55 Dunlevy St. in Railtown. The old foundry was converted to house several different operations (now Vancouver Urban Winery, Postmark Brewing, Belgard Kitchen) having never previously seen food/drink service in its 90+ years of existence. Vancouver’s original core is filled with such buildings, which is to say we hope to see at least a few more are similarly repurposed before they all become condos only foreign investors can afford…

WHAT IT IS: El Presidio Casa Bon, a modern restaurant in a completely renovated 19th century building (formerly a mansion) that had fallen into disrepair. It was designed by Mexico City architecture firm, German Velasco.

WHERE IT IS: In the city of Culiacan, capital of the state of Sinaloa in the northwest of Mexico (population 675,000+).

WHERE WE WISH IT WAS: Somewhere in Railtown, Yaletown or False Creek’s southwestern shore where a few buildings of comparable age and similar materials (eg. brick) miraculously still exist.

WHY WE WISH IT WAS THERE: The city is currently trying to engineer a situation in which industrial manufacturing returns to Railtown. This is a little late given the neighbourhood’s recent reinvention as a tech/fashion hub that appears to value building conversion over demolition and development. In our books, whether in Railtown, Yaletown or along False Creek, any move that helps to preserve the old bones of this town is a good one.

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There is 1 comment

  1. Andrew. Great article. We couldn’t agree with you more. Environment and atmosphere definitely can help make a great meal into a great experience. Over the years, we’ve tried to create interesting spaces in historic buildings. Our hope was to attract visionary entrepreneurs to deliver the type of experience that your article refers to. At Salient we’re incredibly proud that these historic buildings have become the home of such places as l’abattoir, Peckinpah, 6-Acres, Cork & Fin, Bao Down, Meet in Gastown, Coffee Bar, Mosquito, Acme Cafe, Meat and Bread, and Pure Bread. We’d love to do more in Vancouver. We’re working in Victoria’s old town and will let you know.

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