Rachel Zottenberg and David Duprey of The Narrow, Rumpus Room, Ricksaw, and upcoming Fox Cabaret have picked up the ancient second floor Fu Wah dim sum restaurant space at 555 Gore Avenue (on the eastern periphery of Chinatown between Keefer and East Pender). With it, they plan on opening a Rat Pack era, old school Vegas-themed joint called The Emerald.
It’s a massive, unused space, one that had been dormant for at least a decade before the duo picked it up earlier this year. “It was pretty gross in there,” says Zottenberg. “It’s one of those places that people would never know was there.” I can vouch from that. I live and work very close by and never knew that it existed. The address isn’t even visible, and the doors are so thoroughly boarded up that they appear to be walls.
Though the interior has already been gutted and the kitchen (which is bigger than all of Rumpus Room) cleaned up, Zottenberg, Duprey, and the construction crew still have a lot of work to do. When it does open, we can expect a 25 seat lounge, a 65 seat dining room, and a couple of versatile private rooms. They have 4800 sqft to play with, not to mention 180 grandfathered seats. Not all of them, however, will be in play: “We’re going to have fewer seats than we’re actually allowed,” Zottenberg says. The real figure is closer to 100. Why? “Because what’s lacking in Vancouver right now is elbow room. We hear it a lot, and we want people to feel really comfortable here. We want them to hang out.”
The bar program is going to offer upwards of 35 drinks — a mix of classics, plays on classics and originals, while the food will follow the Vegas vibe with Chris Williams, lately of Boneta, Save On Meats, and Rumpus, doing the cooking. He’ll be working the neighbourhood for sourcing, which could mean things like a “catch of the day” from Hung Win Seafoods and duck from Money Foods, both of which are right downstairs from The Emerald. Beyond that, think updated takes on the classic shrimp cocktail, Turducken (for real), Steak Diane, et cetera. Dean Martin loved his spaghetti and meatballs and Sinatra was a sucker for Veal Milanese, so maybe we’ll see those, too. And despite the meat-centric traditions of Las Vegas, Zottenberg assures me that vegetarians and vegans will be looked after as well.
The projected opening date for The Emerald is early Summer.