My new Van Mag feature on the coming of The Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe is now available in print and online. Excerpts and the link to the original after the leap.
Inside the Corner Suite’s site at 850 Thurlow are the skeletal remains of what used to be Piccolo Mondo (’84-’04) and Saveur (’04-’09). It’s hard to see the wisdom in the risk they’re taking. Little is left of the space, save the unnerving detritus of another restaurant’s failure: dusty coffee cups, glassware, and ashtrays; old chef’s knives with twisted tangs and broken handles; and racks of spent silverware. “It’s all ours,” McGillivray says with mock pride. The business was first listed for sale in October 2008 for $178,000. They got it for a mere $90,000.
After a few days, the discoveries began. Behind one wall they found an elaborate mosaic patterned in aqua, grey, blue, and green tiles. A peek above the cheap ceiling panels, concealing a labyrinthine tangle of useless piping and fittings, revealed an extra few feet of height they exposed and trimmed. The six-seat bar, slated for the sledgehammer, will be painted and fitted with a two-way mirror to become a neat service station.
The trick, as in any business, is to be as calculating as possible. A $138,000 bank loan coupled with $212,000 split between McGillivray and Da Cruz isn’t going to go far: besides the $90,000 to purchase Saveur (a sum that includes everything from the stoves and furnishings to the existing lease and liquor licence), there’s $25,766 for rent while under construction; $12,500 down on new kitchen equipment; $21,000 down on gorgeous blue Six Inch chairs from Belgium; $12,000 on tables; $7,250 down on a point-of-sale system; $18,000 for staff training; $16,000 for bar stock; $17,000 for food; $1,300 down for insurance; $3,800 for signage; $30,000 for painting, plumbing, electrical, sanding, plastering, and drywalling; and $15,886 for legal fees and computers and office supplies.
And then there’s the three-and-a-half-foot-tall Victoria Arduino “Venus Century” espresso machine, the bar’s centrepiece. It’s the sixth of only 100 ever made (the first is owned by the Pope), and the only one in British Columbia. It’s setting them back $21,000 ($5,250 down). All told, this leaves them with a mere $74,248 in the bank, roughly 22 percent of their investment. (They also have two unused $100,000 lines of emergency credit.) “It should really be 40 percent.” McGillivray shrugs, as if to say, But what are ya gonna do?
The full story here.