Local food industry veterans Miju Kawai and Hiroshi Kawai are aiming to open a darling little Japanese cafe this week or the next with their daughter, Moeno. The 16 seater is called Basho, which means “place” in Japanese. It’s located at 2007 East Hastings St., just a block east of Victoria Drive.
Hiroshi and Miju are lifers. They owned a neighbourhood lunch spot in Yokohama before moving to Canada to open North Van’s Kokoro eatery in 1994. After selling it nearly a decade later, they opened Hiroshi’s Sushi Creations on Oak Street in 2005 (it’s now called Tokiwa).
Inspired by the neighbourhood coffee shops that they loved and hung out in on adventures in Tokyo and Berlin, the Kawai’s want Basho to be a den of coziness with small personal touches that give off genuine warmth. Almost everything in Basho is handmade by the family, from the furniture and stained glass by Hiroshi to the pottery, quilts and knits by Miju and the aprons and wood carvings by Moeno. All the plates, cups, and dishes were either sourced from local thrift stores or made by hand. The music is all vinyl.
In addition to Japanese sencha, genmaicha and bancha, Basho will be steeping 3 black teas, 1 rooibos, and 1 herbal tea, plus coffee from Hand Works Coffee Studio. For food, there will be lunch sets of salads, sandwiches, and rice bowls, not to mention house-baked sweets. Expect matcha flavours, Japanese style crème caramels, and mochi.
As it stands now, they’re just one permit away from unlocking their doors. When they get the green light, the hours will be Tuesday through Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm. In the meantime, you can follow them and stay up to date on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
by Andrew Morrison | I checked out Platform 7 Coffee Brew Bar today at 2331 East Hastings (that’s right next door to Tacofino). The brand new space is modelled after a British train station circa 1900, complete with bench seating, antique light fixtures, big clocks, period signage, and a “roof” installation that jolly well protects against imaginary rains. They offer a limited selection of pastries, sandwiches, and such, and make/serve coffee in myriad ways (shots, pour over, et cetera). The beans are all from Stumptown, and there was much rejoicing.
The GOODS from Via Tevere
Vancouver, BC | The efforts of a pizzeria, a heritage group and a team of artists have restored a unique, 80-year-old painted advertisement on the side of a former grocery store in Vancouver’s Grandview neighbourhood.
In 2011, new owners began renovations at an old building located at 1190 Victoria Drive. While attempting to convert the lower commercial floor into what is now Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana, they removed an old layer of stucco, exposing a sign advertising Shelly’s Bakery, a company from a lifetime ago.
Once very common on commercial buildings, painted advertisements have become extremely rare, usually falling victim to weather, repainting or demolition. Within days, word spread throughout the neighbourhood, photos were taken and the sign was even spotlighted on the evening news by Mike McCardel. The owners, contemplating on what to do with the sign, were approached by the Grandview Heritage Group. The owners agreed that the sign was an important piece of Vancouver history and elected to save it. The sign was framed off while the balance of the building received a makeover.
Despite attempts by the owners to preserve it, the old sign deteriorated quickly, and by spring 2013 was in desperate need of restoration, having become almost illegible. A plan was made to restore the sign, the goal of which was to keep it looking old rather than repaint it like a new sign, however restoration could only be done with financial support. Once the plan was made, the owners of Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana, along with the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program, came forward with the support required. Shortly thereafter, artists Michael Kluckner, Victoria Oginski and Penny Street used the dry springtime weather to subtly repaint the mural, using techniques that Oginski developed in a career of mural painting and film and theatre work. The painting added just enough new colour on top of the old, weathered design to bring it back to life. The sign was then sealed with a final clear coat of epoxy to ensure the paint was protected from both the elements and vandalism for another generation.
William Curtis Shelly did a lot more with his career than simply run his namesake bakery, which was a huge operation for its day, with hundreds of employees and branches in New Westminster and North Vancouver as well as the head office at the northwest corner of 10th and Ash. He also built the first highway and ski chalet on Grouse Mountain in the 1920s, chaired the Park Board and was provincial minister of finance from 1928-32. The house in Shaughnessy at 1563 Matthews, where he lived for the final two decades of his life before his death in 1951, is now the American consulate.
How old is the sign? Based on surviving photographs of Shelly’s 4X advertisements that date from about 1940, the sign’s design is at least as old as 1935. Whether it was touched up later seems unlikely as the company updated its typography and the “happy baker” image in 1939. The sign was probably more or less forgotten during the Second World War years and then covered with stucco when the store was modernized, maybe about 1950. The Shelly’s 4X brand itself disappeared from store shelves in the 1950s.
The current location of Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana is the old Victoria Drive Confectionery, built in 1922 and most recently the home of Doctor Vigari studios, now situated on Commercial Drive. The renovation and design of the interior and exterior space reflect the history of the building, the surrounding neighbourhood and the owners’ Neapolitan heritage. Read more
Hot off the presses from our friends at FeastVan:
Fill your bellies (and pint glasses) with a good conscience during FeastVan starting this weekend. Indulge in a specially priced three-course dinner (or two course lunch) between January 18 and February 3 and $1 from every prix fixe dinner sold will go towards the Vancouver Inner City Back Pack Food Program, a rad initiative that helps kids who do not have reliable access to nutritious food by sending them home from school with healthy snacks that help to see them through the weekends.
We’re talking about good restaurants, folks. Au Petit Chavignol, The Acorn, Bao Bei, Campagnolo Roma, The Cascade Room, East of Main, Eight 1/2 Restaurant & Lounge, El Caminos, Habit, Harvest Community Foods, Les Faux Bourgeois, Nicli Antica Pizzaria, The Parker, Union Bar, and more are on board.
Not only that, but a percentage of the proceeds from every keg of R&B Brewing’s East Side Bitter sold at participating FeastVan restaurants will go towards the Back Pack Program and Les Amis du Fromage will be doing the same for every sale of take home macaroni and cheese. Pat’s Pub will do the same for every sale of it’s awesome Pulled Pork or Beef Brisket Sandwich.
No passes, tickets or coupons are required. Diners may simply visit their favourite participating restaurants throughout the 17 days to enjoy the specially priced prix fixe menus. Advance reservations are strongly encouraged, but walk-ins are appreciated. To make a lunch or dinner reservation, please contact the restaurant directly. Please note that some restaurants do not take reservations.
Reader “A.B.R.” | Mount Pleasant | Vancouver, BC | 4:48 pm | SHARE YOUR VIEW
We love posting the photographs that reveal the views from our reader’s windows. Whether it’s a back alley or a sandy beach, we’ve been stoked to see what you see from home, work or the road. Check out this gallery of our favourite reader submissions… Read more
Bob Kronbauer is a freelance creative director and photographer as well as the editor of the local blog-turned-not-for-profit, VancouverIsAwesome.com. In this weekly roundup he’ll share with you his favourite people, places and things that make up the city he loves so much. Some might be obvious while others are hidden, and some might be current while still others may be slices of Vancouver’s past. The one thing they all have in common is that they fall under the category of totally awesome… Read more
Say hello to local musician Veda Hille. Full bio after the exchange…
Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: I live on the eastside of Vancouver. There are a multitude of reasons to be here, including: Italian sausage, backyard parties, friendly cats.
What are you listening to as you answer these questions: Baby chatter, cat complaints.
The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Bad for me? I refuse to admit such a food exists.
Default drink: Pink Gin.
Drink you’ll never have again: Butterscotch schnapps.
Three things about Vancouver that make you feel like a kid: Most of them are gone. R.I.P. the train at Kits Beach; Chocolate Park next to the old Purdy’s factory; Woodwards’ food floor.
Favourite Vancouver bridge: Burrard.
Best Vancouver patio: I am currently fond of The Reef on Commercial Drive.
One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: Um, how about lower real estate prices?
Favourite place to see a band: My garage.
Cheap place for dinner: Dona Cata. Oh my god those tacos.
Book you’re reading: Alex Ross’ The Rest Is Noise.
Last place traveled: Berlin.
Biggest fear: Bitterness.
Worst cliche ever: “It’s all good.”
If you could rename yourself: Kissen.
Your ancestry: Danish-German-Dutch-English.
Under what circumstances would you join the army: I don’t want to imagine those circumstances.
Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: Born in Moosejaw, looked dapper in the 20s, fixed airplanes in WWII (stationed “overseas” in Newfoundland), worked for CN, played clarinet in big bands, taught welding at BCIT, smoked for 70 years, died recently in hospital in Burnaby.
Best bar stool in the city: Stools are too high for me. Dangly legs, no fun.
Dumbest purchase ever: That priest robe when i was searching for my eccentric teen identity.
What are you proud of: My stepdaughter and my son.
The thing that makes you the angriest: Lying liars.
The view from your favourite window: The ocean, the trees, our porch on Gabriola Island.
Favourite ice cream flavour: Anything caramelly.
Most beautiful body of water: Pacific Ocean.
Food your mom makes better than anyone: Lamb. Meatballs. Soup.
Talent you wish you possessed: Financial acuity.
The trend you wish you never followed, but did: Wedge heels.
Musical instrument you long to master: Banjo.
Sport you gave up: I was never sporting.
Best place to write: Alone.
The game you’re best at: Scrabble.
Mac or PC: Mac.
Favourite sports team: Alas, no.
The number of fist fights you’ve been in: Alas, none.
The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: High risk pregnancy.
Watch Veda Hille’s Laboratory
Three things of no value that you will keep until you die: I will do my best to keep a small crochet sheep, a cedar box made by a 6 year old girl, and our photo albums.
Local person you admire most: Andrew Feldmar (ed. note: more on Feldmar here, courtesy of The Tyee).
The thing you’re most ashamed of: Mistreatment of friends.
Best concert experience ever: David Byrne in NYC, Elliot Smith in my dreams.
Best people watching: Airports.
Best record label: Meh.
Describe your tattoos: I have a tattoo of the aforementioned crochet sheep on my forearm, with the words lucky lucky luck.
Favourite book as a child: Narnia series, Wrinkle In Time, The Dark Is Rising. Earlier: Hunca And Munca, The Two Bad Mice.
The dish you’re proud of: I make pretty good pizza. The last one had prosciutto, asparagus, and walnuts.
The thing that makes you the most nervous: Speed.
Town you were born in: Old Vancouver town.
Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, The A-Team.
First memory: Unsure.
Album that first made you love music: The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations.
Default junk food: Chocolate.
The career path you considered but never followed: Law.
Watch Veda Hille’s LuckyLuck
Thing you miss most about home when you’re on the road: Friends and family. Vancouver tap water.
Three websites you visit every day: Facebook, vedahille.com, gofugyourself.com
The first three things you do every morning: Nurse the child, tidy the living room, drink the coffee.
The thing you’re addicted to: Praise.
Luckiest moment of your life: Recognizing love.
Biggest hope: Continued excitement.
Veda Hille was born in 1968 in Vancouver Canada. She started playing piano when she was 6. Her family moved around a lot, from the city to the country and back again. Veda ran around in the woods and the streets, practiced piano, read books, used her Junior Scientist Microscope, and thought that maybe she would be a psychiatrist.
First she played classical music. Then came pop music, and a few years of jazz. There was the ill-fated year as an inept lounge musician. Then Veda went to art school. She studied sculpture, film, and performance art. She also worked as a cook. She began to get a handle on the idea of making things. She put that idea together with the music idea, and started writing songs in 1990. It became pretty obvious that she would not be a psychiatrist.
Veda put out an indie cassette in 1992. People liked it and she started playing around town. She slowly started the business of touring Canada, and also began a long relationship with the Canadian modern dance scene. In 1994 she released her first cd, and has released an album roughly every 18 months since then. By the time she started working with her current band (assembled in 1997) she was regularly touring Canada, the US, and Germany. Touring and recording and various special projects have kept her busy ever since. Veda plays piano and tenor guitar, dabbles in banjo, accordion, and protools, and has a new love affair going on with a nord electro keyboard and a handful of casios. She writes about the natural world, the trickiness of love, the constant threat of tragedy, and anything else that amazes her.
Lately the Hille empire has been diversifying further. Veda is a member of two new bands: Duplex! (rock music for kids) and The Fits (vaudeville duets). She continues to make her own records, and does so in cahoots with Ape Records, run by XTC’s Andy Partridge. Her new album, This Riot Life, will be released on Ape in early 2008, and will be followed by touring in Canada, the UK, and Europe. Veda is the in-house composer for Theatre Replacement and collaborates with them on at least one show per year. She has also been performing with the CBC Radio Orchestra, writing for the Leaky Heaven Circus, and working on a new choral piece for the Winnipeg New Music Festival. Stay tuned, because as Veda frequently admits in her music and her life, nobody knows what the heck is going to happen next.