This is so rad that I have goosebumps and its like 29 degrees here in the vineyard’s shade…
The 63-year old Waldorf Hotel at 1489 East Hastings, originally designed by Mercer & Mercer in a (then) modern style, has been picked up by restaurateur Ernesto Gomez (Nuba, etc), architect Scott Cohen (Gastropod, etc) and musician Thomas Anselmi (Copyright, etc). They are now in the midst of renovating the iconic but much neglected 30 room hotel with a complete concept/branding overhaul and “boutique” status being the ultimate goal. We were given the exclusive details a couple of days ago.
Here’s the choice pull quote from the creative brief:
In 1955, capitalizing on an emerging interest in Tiki Culture, the complex was transformed into a “tiki” themed hotel. Original architects Mercer and Mercer restyled the existing decor, replacing the minimalist features of their original design with an exotic motif influenced by tribal cultures of the Polynesian islands. The newly renovated Waldorf quickly became known for providing a unique dining and entertaining experience that included authentic Polynesian cuisine, art, music and dancing. Catering to an affluent clientele of executives, citizens, visitors and guests, the hotel was an immediate success. This prosperity continued up until the 70s when, as the neighborhood found itself in decline and it’s clientele began to shift down market. Several attempts to revive the hotel in the subsequent years have not been successful at restoring its iconic status […] The group see potential to re-enter the market as a boutique hotel, targeting a different clientele. A dominant trend in the hospitality industry over the past ten years, boutique hotels have emerged as a popular option for smaller sized properties looking to appeal to customers who wish to have a unique experience when visiting a hotel. In the local economy there are high-end hotels that have a “boutique” strategy but none that cater to a mid-range customer. In many other markets this positioning has proved very successful, examples include: The Drake in Toronto, The Ace in Seattle, The Jupiter in Portland. The Waldorf aims to offer the same type of cultural experience for a midrange price creating a totally unique positioning for itself in the local economy.
In addition to their aesthetic and creative assets in Cohen and Anselmi, the partners have brought in chef Ned Bell of Kelowna’s Cabana to lead the food and beverage side of the operation. If you’re notfamiliar with the guy, he was once upon a time a sous chef to Rob Feenie and a Food Network star in his own right. I’ve known him for a few years now and he’s got serious game. His new playground will see a 120 seat “value-oriented” cafe showcasing hotel classics and Pan-American street food at Nuba prices (ie. cheap), a 60 seat dining room for Basque and Southern French fare at bistro prices, and a 100 seat patio (arriving next summer) serving Mexican seafood from an outdoor grill. On the Liquor Primary side, they’re keeping the 97 seat Tiki bar as close to the original as possible with exotic drinks and DJs spinning vinyl on an all-analogue stereo system featuring vintage Lansings Hartsfield speakers.
If that wasn’t kickass enough, they’re also creating a state of the art multi-media performance hall licensed for 300 people and playing host to the new location of Barbarella, the popular Main St. salon and barbershop. Throw in multiple projectors playing looped films throughout the building, a recording studio in the basement, and regular gigs of live music, theatre, comedy, and performance art, and you have a hurricane of change coming to East Hastings. The official launch will see a 3 day opening party on the weekend of Halloween.
Like I said, goosebumps…
I’ll be going into much more detail in a upcoming Vancouver magazine article on the current eastward gravitational pull of our restaurant scene, so that’s all for now.