by Stevie Wilson | In 1931 the Shell Oil Company opened this auto garage at 231 East Pender St. – it’s 20th location in the province – as the Lion’s Gate Service Station. The tucked-away business was originally run by Thomas Chang, whose name will be recognized by Chinatown history buffs as the son of Chang Toy – more commonly known as Sam Kee. Chang passed away in 1953, and the business was transferred to H.H. Leong who renamed it Henry’s Service Station. In 1959, Max Goldberg Supply Ltd, a nearby business located at 424 Main St., bought the building and continued to operate it as Henry’s until it closed in the 1970s. The company continued to use it as a storage facility until 1989. The Goldberg family had significant ties to the Strathcona and Chinatown neighbourboods; in addition to their 50-year commercial tenure, Max’s son, Harry Goldberg, sat on the Chinatown Planning Committee for many years.
Today, the building is in extreme disrepair and is already slated for demolition to make way for a new condominium project, but under the filth and graffiti remains a long-forgotten piece of Downtown Eastside history. Look closely and you’ll notice the structure’s unique Chinese-inspired architectural elements, including a curved hip roof, carved brackets in the bay corners, and similarly rounded rafter details along the exterior. In 1933, an additional fifth bay was opened on the eastern side of the station; the slightly wider design and more intact construction is still discernible. The parking lot’s uneven plane indicates where a gas pump island once sat, which also explains why the structure is set so far back in the lot. Much of this area is quickly disappearing in the wake of the G-Word, so keep an eye out for this and other forgotten sites while you still can.
The GOODS from The Parker
Vancouver, BC | The Parker’s summer menu from executive chef Curtis Luk is sure to be the hot ticket this summer. Highlights include ratatouille with heirloom tomatoes, sea asparagus and labneh as well the daily house-made alkaline noodles with fresh summer vegetables and spicy Sichuan tomato sauce. The gorgeous house-made cheese (plated with torched local honey, poached rhubarb and our caraway lavash crackers with edible flowers) was built to pair with Steve Da Cruz‘s wine program and is best served on our petite patio. Drawing rave reviews for dessert is the new cucumber sorbet served with summer fruit and olive oil cake (have it with a splash of chilled Pimm’s Nø.1 for the definitive summer dénouement). At the bar, manager Nich Box has personally selected a list of his favourite aperitifs to start your evening and continues to impress with new cocktails. Try the Saemundur made with Longtable Aquavit, fresh mint, cherry syrup and lemon bitters with soda – it’s the tall, cold drink for long, hot summer nights. Read more
by Shaun Layton | “The Brickhouse? Wait, where’s that?” That’s the reply you’d likely get if you mentioned one of my favourite dive bars in the city. Still, on occasion, you might just get an enthusiastic “I fucking love that place!” in response. And for good reason.
The Brickhouse, located on Main St. between East Georgia and Union, has been pouring beer and whiskey to DTES, Chinatown, and Strathcona locals for around 25 years. It’s definitely one of my “go to” spots for an after work solo pint, a game of pool with the lads, or a stop on the list if I’m touring out-of-town industry friends around town.
When you walk in on busy nights you’re greeted by a hostess at the front door. On slow nights, you can enter through the back in the alley by the Jimi Hendrix shrine. Old brick arches carry you through the cavernous space through to the main room, where you’ll be delighted by the character bar. Expect big fish tanks, lava lamps, shitty old red couches, pool tables, dart boards — it’s pure magic. One should never be bored sitting in this spot; the walls are covered with so much nostalgia. I’m not sure what the space used to be, but let’s hope it’ll never be anything else. It has such an interesting layout.
The atmosphere is incredible during either busy or slow, and the service is as adequate and genuine as it needs to be (as sure a sign of a great bar as there is). I recently visited a new self-styled “neighbourhood dive” and experienced quite the opposite. The place was empty (early on a Sunday) and the cool kid staffers couldn’t have cared less about the four guests in the bar. Service was non-existent. But perhaps that’s what they were going for, that whole “you should be honoured to be in such a cool bar” vibe. Alas, this isn’t Bushwick, or whatever part of Brooklyn they were trying so hard to emulate. That shit doesn’t fly in Vancouver.
That being said, a good dive bar should never be concerned with doing anything especially well, except keeping glasses full, music flowing, and me (the customer) coming back. The Brickhouse does exactly that, all while being laid-back and completely unpretentious. The two bartenders I’ve encountered are a younger lady who’s been there for over 8 years, and the owner, “Leo”, whose reputation precedes him in industry circles. Both are great bartenders, but only one is a legend.
The younger lady is very friendly, remembers what you drink, and keeps ‘em coming. Leo, one the other hand, is just something else altogether; a three-way cross between Seattle’s favourite bartender, Murray Stenson (pouring for over 30 years), a very regimented and stern blackjack dealer, and the soup nazi. Leo epitomizes efficiency; he doesn’t even look like he’s moving that fast (he isn’t), but every move he makes is calculated and with purpose. He just gets things done. On a Friday night, watching this guy take orders from the weekend warriors is something else!
I prefer the place early week, and so should you. On a quiet Sunday you’ll find locals reading books, out-of-towers (who must have cool friends who told them about it), and industry staff enjoying their “weekend”, such as they are. A B & T crowd kinda spoils the joint on Fridays and Saturdays, but that’s true of most places worth going to city-wide.
Oh, I nearly forgot! The food. A great selection of bags of chips is on offer here; my favourite being a bag of Cheezies to go with my Pacifico. It’s the perfect combo as I wind down after work, listening to the oldies rock ‘n roll soundtrack. If you haven’t been before, bring only your worthy friends, and don’t tell too many people. Places like The Brickhouse need to stick around!
Shaun Layton has helped to maintain a top notch bar scene in Vancouver for ten years, and since day one at Gastown’s L’Abattoir, where he is the Bar Manager. He also runs his own consulting company, designing bar programs and training staff locally and as far away as St.John’s, NFLD. Layton has competed and travelled throughout the USA and Europe, touring distilleries, breweries and bars. He was recognized in 2012 as the Bartender of The Year by Vancouver Magazine.
The GOODS from Les Amis Du Fromage
Vancouver, BC | The Salty Cookie Company and The Lemon Square join forces for a Pop Up Shop at les amis du FROMAGE in Strathcona on Saturday May 24. This pop-up will showcase the talents of these two fresh start-up pastry companies. It will run from noon to 5pm at the East Vancouver location of les amis du FROMAGE at 843 East Hastings Street in Strathcona. Take this opportunity to do some sweet shopping and show some support for these new start-up businesses!
The Salty Cookie Company is the dream child of pastry chef Meredith Kaufman. Having been a pastry chef since 1999 and a mom since 2004, cookies have always been a part of her life. What started off as a hobby of dropping off cookies to friends and loved ones, turned into a full time venture. Thus, The Salty Cookie Company was born.
The Lemon Square is a small slice of paradise. Handmade and all wrapped up just for you. Not your typical lemon square, this one is made with fresh lemons, BC butter and dusted with coconut. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked. Read more
The GOODS from The Parker
Vancouver, BC | The Parker is an award-winning vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown featuring Executive Chef Curtis Luk’s seasonal menu showcasing the best of our region and beyond. Owner Steve Da Cruz and manager Nich Box deliver an innovative bar program and a well thought out wine list with a deft touch and thoughtful service. Thanks to our amazing location and clientele, we’re growing! The Parker is seeking a bartending server with five years experience who is comfortable in all areas of service, expedition, and wine pairing. This is a part-time position to start, with many shifts opening up soon after. Send resumés to info [at] theparkervancouver.com. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | Get your spoons ready, folks. Crackle Creme (pronounced “crack le creme”) is a tiny, 450 sqft cafe currently under construction at 245 Union St. right next door to Harvest Community Foods on the western edge of Strathcona. It will specialise in the production of five creme brûlées. We can expect three mainstays – Vanilla Bean, Bailey’s, Durian – and two on rotation – possibly White Chocolate Raspberry and Matcha to start.
It’s a one man show owned by Daniel Wong, an enterprising young man and (very) recent VCC grad. His lack of restaurant experience shouldn’t be too much of an impediment, for people who dislike creme brûlée are exceptionally rare. What’s more, the once mighty dessert seldom shows up on dessert menus any more. Perhaps it became passé on account of its ubiquity…I don’t know.
I do know, however, that creme brûlée still invites endless variation, and that there are plenty of eateries for blocks around (with more on the way) that don’t serve the blowtorched sugar discs, which is to say that many of their dessert cards might go ignored in the near future by diners who get wind of this dedicated little alternative. Perhaps creme brûlée is ripe for resurrection.
Indeed, if this is a well executed, sweeter-than-usual trace of the food truck-inspired “do one thing well and the people will come” track, then there’s a good chance that it’ll enjoy line-ups this summer. A creme brûlée cafe is certainly a clever idea, and with waffles and coffee also on the menu, I trust the smell alone will draw in quite the crowd.
Thankfully, we don’t have long to speculate. Much of the equipment has already arrived (really, how much does he need?) and yesterday I found Wong in the space busily sanding down his countertops and counting down the three or four weeks until opening day.
by Stevie Wilson | Like most cosmopolitan cities around the world, Vancouver is known for its distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own character, landscape, and history. But what happens when an entire neighbourhood is razed to the ground and its community is displaced? The historic Hogan’s Alley in Strathcona is a unique example of how a neighbourhood can come to define the history of a group of people, and the intricacies of cultural identity within urban spaces.
The name “Hogan’s Alley” is often explained as being the colloquial term for Park Lane, an alley that spanned from Main Street to Jackson Avenue between Union Street and Prior Street, and the surrounding area. The lane, which ran parallel to Main Street, did originally border the sides, backs, and gardens of homes, but to consider the whole neighbourhood as simply an “alley” would be a disservice to the businesses, residences, and cultural centres that developed around it.
Hogan’s Alley was not marked on the city map in any particular fashion, and its precise boundaries are not entirely clear. City archivist J.S. Matthews noted on a photo from 1891 that the lane adjacent to the home at 209 Harris Street (now East Georgia) was known as Hogan’s Alley; from where exactly he learned the nickname is unknown.
While the definitive nomenclature is still up for debate, what is clear it that multiple generations of families and workers, predominantly of African-Canadian descent, called this area home for decades. Ultimately, many of these families were displaced when the City demolished a number of homes and businesses in Hogan’s Alley to build the second version of the Georgia Viaduct.
The black community which came to define Hogan’s Alley came to the area shortly after the turn of the century. Many individuals had come from Vancouver Island, likely in search of work in local resource industries, and this section of Strathcona (then known simply as the East End) quickly developed into a mecca for those of African-American and African-Canadian heritage. Many had also migrated to Vancouver from California and Louisiana. At this time, Vancouver was seen as having limitless economic potential.
Prior to his political defeat in 1934, Mayor L.D. Taylor had a unique and often controversial perspective of how Vancouver should mitigate the growing crime rates in the city. In particular, his “open town policy” on vice crimes such as prostitution, gambling, and illegal drinking meant that areas such as Hogan’s Alley were ripe for these types of “victimless” crimes to continue unchecked. Moreover, his ties to corruption in the police department further frustrated those who recognized the fragile state of the city’s lower-income neighbourhoods. Given Hogan’s Alley’s proximity to transportation centres and the commercial hub of Hastings Street (the very same reasons residents were drawn to the area in the first place), it attracted a wide variety of legal and illegal activities for locals and visitors in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Park Lane itself was only 8 feet wide and spanned only a couple of blocks, but the area was filled with a variety of after-hours entertainments, including bootlegger establishments, cheap eateries, and popular brothels. These businesses, popular with loggers, sailors, and other resource industry workers, included Buddy’s on Union for booze, the Scat Inn on Park Lane for music and food, and even a back-alley wine merchant called Lungo. All this – including stories of a blind prostitute known as the “Queen of Hogan’s Alley” – led to a rough-and-tumble reputation that scared many folks off and intrigued even more.
While Hogan’s Alley was a predominantly black community (Vancouver’s first), there were other cultures and ethnicities prevalent in the area as well. Several Jewish families and business were well established and an Italian consular office was located in the Bingarra Block at Union and Main. Some of the houses on the 200-block of Union Street, which became vacant during World War I, later became home to Chinese families.
It is important to note, however, that this area was once a comfortable community for Vancouver’s black population. Indeed, while other ethnically defined areas are historically common in Vancouver (Little Italy, Chinatown, Japantown, etc), this was the first – and only – example of a cultural enclave for African-Canadians. It is also the site of Vancouver’s first black church, the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel (823 Jackson Avenue), which was purchased by the community in 1918.
During its heyday in the 1930s and 40s, Hogan’s Alley featured a number of black-owned businesses that added a distinct southern flavour to the neighbourhood. One of these black-owned businesses was Emma Alexander’s Mother’s Tamale and Chili Parlour at 250 Union Street. Emma’s niece, Viva Moore, later opened the famous Vie’s Chicken and Steak House at 209 Main Street, which operated from 1948 until 1976. Run by Viva and her husband Rob, the restaurant was a popular spot for locals and even a few famous faces, including Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. Sadly, the unique culture and popularity of businesses like these, and the fact that a growing community was thriving in the area, wasn’t enough to protect the neighbourhood from “progress”. Eventually, Hogan’s Alley’s reputation as a red light district gave Mayor Tom Campbell’s government the justification to approve the $11.2 million Georgia Viaduct Replacement project.
Since its destruction in the early 1970s, the surrounding area has evolved from a primarily residential neighbourhood into a growing commercial sector, with a number of shops, cafes, and restaurants along Union Street catering to a new generation of Vancouverites. Modern civic and cultural organizations, such as the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, help memorialize and educate people on the experiences of black individuals in Vancouver, as well as the history of Hogan’s Alley.
The Jimi Hendrix Shrine at the corner of Main and Union (adjacent to the former site of Vie’s Chicken and Steak House) pays homage to the musician and his grandmother, Nora Hendrix, who migrated to Vancouver from Tennessee in 1911 and worked at Vie’s restaurant. Nora’s home at 827 East Georgia still stands today, where she raised three children with her husband Ross. In 2013, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Places That Matter program installed a plaque near the Hogan’s Alley Cafe in conjunction with Black History Month. While most tangible remnants of this historic neighbourhood are long gone, the legacy of its community and its place in the story of Vancouver is, thankfully, still remembered and celebrated.
The GOODS from Les Amis Du Fromage
Vancouver, BC | On Saturday, May 10th – les amis du Fromage will again host Petit Four Pastries for a Mother’s Day themed pop-up at their East Vancouver store. If your mom loves baked goods, then come by to pick up a gift! This time around, the ladies will be bringing their usual goods – the signature buttercrunch, all sorts of cookies and brownies, hand-painted decorative sugar cookies, shortbread and gluten-free almond financiers… And there will also be some limited-quantity, made-for-mom treats that would be great dessert that evening or for Sunday brunch: rustic chocolate cherry hazelnut coffee cakes, cranberry orange muffins and lemon thyme loaves – to name a few. Get all the details after the jump… Read more
The Writers’ Exchange is a local program that offers inner city kids a place where they can learn to love the craft of writing. The Writer’s Exchange used to be run out of classrooms across East Vancouver, but this past Fall it opened a public space at 881 East Hastings. Here, kids gather after school to learn about reading, writing and the versatility of their own imaginations in a safe environment – all for free.
The literacy superstars who run the show, namely Sarah Maitland and Jennifer MacLeod, are aiming to ensure that every Vancouver child has the opportunity to build the literacy skills necessary to access a world where anything is possible. That’s a pretty great vision and we think our city will be a better place for it. But stuff like this doesn’t happen unless community pitches in to make it happen.
And that’s where you come in…
TIME | Volunteer some time! A few hours one day of the week would make a huge difference. Giving kids a familiar and supportive mentor is a key part of what the success of The Writer’s Exchange has been built upon. “As a volunteer mentor, you can help with reading, creative writing projects, literacy games and cool crafts, or support a small group of kids during in-school book-making programs. Help us make literacy fun and accessible for kids!”
DONATE | If you don’t have time, maybe you have a little food or money that you wouldn’t mind contributing. Healthy snacks or cash donations are accepted with appreciation. The Writer’s Exchange also loves books and art supplies.
TECHNOLOGY | The Writer’s Exchange is looking for donations of Apple Computers. We know a lot of our readers are Mac users, so if you or your office or organization are looking at refreshing your hardware any time soon, please consider donating your old computers to The Writer’s Exchange. Macs are great for creating stop-animation videos, processing photographs used for some of the books that the children create and are generally easier for newbies to learn on. Anything after 2005 can be refurbished and used by these kids.
Connect with Jennifer or Sarah at The Writer’s Exchange here.
PS. Once upon a time, a burrito was born. He was sitting around in the freezer until someone put him in the microwave. The burrito never felt so alive. — Crissy, age 9
Honour Bound details the many cool things that we feel honour bound to check out because they either represent our city extremely well or are inherently awesome in one way or another.
The GOODS from Les Amis Du Fromage
Vancouver, BC | Les amis du FROMAGE, Vancouver’s most critically-acclaimed cheese shop, is set to deliver their famous macaroni and cheese directly to the doors of Lower Mainland residents thanks to their new partnership with SPUD – Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery. The aptly named “Best Macaroni and Cheese” can now be ordered online at spud.ca.
The Best Macaroni and Cheese from les amis du FROMAGE is based on a family recipe and is lovingly produced in small batches with quality ingredients at their East Vancouver location, just down the road from SPUD. Priced at $7.99 for 400g and $18.99 for 950g, this decadent four-cheese macaroni blend includes Cheddar, Gruyère, and Stilton. Each order is delivered frozen and ready to heat.
“I was honoured when SPUD asked if they could add our macaroni and cheese to their stellar line-up of ready to eat products,” says Joe Chaput, chef and co-owner of les amis du FROMAGE. “We are now able to reach areas well outside of Vancouver, including West Vancouver, Richmond, Langley, Mission, and Chilliwack.”
SPUD delivers local organic groceries to the doorstep of houses, apartments, and offices within Vancouver and surrounding municipalities. Customers simply sign up online and shop; their selected groceries are then delivered on a set day that following week. Read more
You know when the weather starts to change and you get confirmation of it in a restaurant? You can get yours now at The Parker with roasted turnips, house-made cheese, crispy bread, radishes, and generous spoons of parsley puree ($12) – so simple, strikingly pretty, delicious, and seasonally suggestive. As is the case with so many other dishes currently on the menu at the Strathcona/Chinatown eatery right now (pretty much the entire menu), it was like eating a sunny day in Spring. More plates and a cocktail or two of similar impact below…
237 Union Street | Strathcona/Chinatown | Vancouver, BC | 604-779-3804 | theparkervancouver.com
The GOODS from Les Amis Du Fromage
Vancouver, BC | Spring is here, and we can’t think of a better time to host a Pop-Up shop for our friends at Petit Four Pastries. We recently discovered Petit Four Pastries during a visit to the Bakers Market in South Vancouver.
This pop-up will showcase the talents of the four bakers: Ada, Alyssa, Carol and Minnie and feature their decorative cookies, confections and small, bite-sized desserts – otherwise known as… petit four! The pop up pastry shop will be open on Saturday April 5th from noon until 5pm at the East Vancouver location of les amis du FROMAGE located at 843 East Hastings. Take this opportunity to do some sweet shopping and show some support for this new start-up business.
Petit Four Pastries is a fun-filled collaboration between four bakers who come from three different cities and backgrounds: Minnie – a native of Hong Kong – was focused on make-up artistry. Alyssa – originally from Moose Jaw – worked throughout Europe in childcare. And while they didn’t know each other while in New York, both Carol and Ada had corporate positions in the finance and advertising industries, respectively.
Two years ago, they met in pastry school in Vancouver – and decided that Petit Four would be one forum that would allow them to work together – creating delicious and beautiful treats – with a little bit of humor and a whole lot of heart.
Since opening in January 2014, they have been growing fast – selling out weekly at the Vancouver Bakers’ Market and taking frequent custom / special orders. Read more
by Stevie Wilson | As one of Vancouver’s most unique neighbourhoods, Strathcona has plenty more to offer than just a grouping of heritage homes. The “East End”, as the area was originally called, was one the first residential settlements in the city and, unlike many other communities, it never developed its own commercial sector, preferring instead of rely on a handful of locally-owned convenience and bodega-type stores.
A great example of Strathcona’s continued romance with small markets is the street-level corner of the Jackson Apartments at 501 East Georgia. Built in 1910, the Italianate-style apartment building was designed by E.E. Blackmore, the same man behind the storied Pantages Theatre on East Hastings.
Georgia Street, which was then known as Harris Street, had been poised to be a direct streetcar route to downtown via the original Georgia Viaduct, but when those plans fell through (because the viaduct couldn’t support trams), the neighbourhood still had the BC Electric line, which not only guaranteed its popularity as a residential spot but also gave it enough commercial viability to attract some trade.
The first recorded main-floor business at the Jackson Apartments was the Costalas Costa Grocery in 1911. It began the address’ unbroken “market” tradition that continues to this day (though Finch’s Market specializes in coffees and sandwiches, it also functions as a neighbourhood grocery, selling everything from apples and dairy products to preserves and pasta).
It was here on this corner in 1917 that police chief Malcolm MacLennan famously met his end. He and an 8 year old bystander were shot and killed by a local man named Bob Tait in a shootout with the VPD. There is a mosaic memorial to the fallen chief set into the sidewalk just outside the front door.
In the 1970s, when the streetcar rails were removed, it was known to the community as Fung’s Grocery. More recently, locals will recall it as the infamous U-Go-2-Store, which featured a variety of smokes, pops, Mr. Noodles, No Name bags ‘o chips, and a few candies that cost just a nickel apiece.
Today, the address operates as Finch’s Market, whose owners, Jamie Smith and Sheryl Matthews, gutted the space and built from the ground up to reveal and maintain much of the space’s historic charms, including the original brick walls, large fenestration, radiator, and corner entrance to match the oriel windows (see above). Scout Editor Andrew Morrison lives close by and took plenty of pictures during the construction process, so be sure to also take a close look at the gallery below. You can really see just how big of a transformation it was. Oh, and pop inside sometime for a quiet lunchtime retreat (they do some seriously great sandwiches) with a little local history on the side.
Stevie Wilson is a historian masquerading as a writer. After serving as an editor for the UBC History Journal, she branched out with a cryptic agenda: to encourage the people of Vancouver to take notice of their local history and heritage with Scout columns that aim to reveal to readers the many fascinating things that they might walk past every day without noticing.
by Sean Orr | Coleman Country: BC Gov’t Poised to Move Against Portland Hotel Society. Behold the old standby of divide and conquer, and it’s really quite genius: federal and provincial government neglect creates a vacuum; organization steps in to do the work of government; organization is flawed (duh) but entrenched and stands in the way of government’s plans; government rides back in on high horse and “exposes” organization for profiting off poverty. The irony? If it was run like a bloated government bureaucracy it would get nothing done and have to pay three times as much to their employees.
And speaking of divide and conquer, Irwin Oostindle blames PHS for failure of W2 space: “If PHS had left even 1% on the table that could have seen the community amenity succeed, instead they strong-armed the process for their own benefit.”
I’m developing an appetite. Lunch, anyone? Vancouver condo king invites $25,000-per-person donations to Vision Vancouver. Not sure how The Province can feign outrage when this is pretty par for the course.
Cone but not forgotten: City of Vancouver taken to court over view corridors. Best comment: “Sure housing prices are out of control because demand vastly exceeds supply, but MY views!!! MY VIEWS!!”
Illuminating: Stunning Rodney Graham chandelier to be installed under the Granville Bridge. I’m not sure if Graham is using the chandelier as a symbol of the aristocratization of housing in Vancouver, but if he is maybe Westbank [the property development company] could also dress the homeless people who sleep under the bridge in tuxedos. After all, they believe “the entire environment should be designed in the public interest.”
Or maybe they could just dangle this free rancher from the bridge instead to keep costs down (because tuxedos are expensive)…
Schadenfreude of the day: Last call: Shark Club closing its iconic downtown Vancouver location on April 30. Iconic? No. Alas, it’s not a permanent closure either. It’s just a transition to new owners. Sorry.
Rat poison left in East Vancouver dog park, neighbourhood warned. Name change to Dog Illing Park?
Dave Grohl shocks local drummer, reveals he’s a big fan. Congrats on all the exposure, guys! This one’s for you: We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful.
Game of Homes: If B.C. Were Westeros From ‘Game Of Thrones’ It Would Look Like This. Winter complaints are coming.
Ladies and gentleman, this is your new Canucks goalie.