Chef Trevor Bird, together with Fable partners Ron MacGillivray and Kathy Schleyer, are going to be opening an 86 seat restaurant in Mount Pleasant next Spring. They’ve just completed a deal that’ll see them taking over the old Reno greasy spoon spot at the foot of the iconic, seven-story Lee Building (built in 1912) on the northwest corner of Main & Broadway.
To those who know it well, the Reno is legend. It has eased thousands upon thousands of hangovers over the years with its cheap eats and hot drip coffee, and accrued a dedicated following of regulars as diverse as the city itself. Sure, the air conditioning, toilets, debit machine, and sometimes even the cooking have felt like a consequential lottery of sorts, but it predates much of its surrounds, and has stood for many as a last refuge, a secret kept from the encroaching legions of man buns and caramel macchiatos.
To others, of course, especially those who are new to the area or just passing through, it probably won’t be mourned at all. The food, though cheap, ample, and almost restorative, is nonetheless wholly dismal, and the service is monosyllabic at its most communicative. Few fucks are given about first few bites, a fact that troubles the delicate. Here’s one particular Yelp review that caught my eye on account of its abrupt histrionics:
This is not your average greasy spoon. It was scary, dark, dirty and gross. I feared for my health and sanity and left hungry after stirring a sticky fork around my plate for a couple of minutes, desperate to wash my hands.
The poor dear. Grief and relief aside, the current owners of Reno will close and vacate the property at some point in November.
Though the new project is yet to be named, it does have a concept that isn’t too far from the one they’re taking over from. The owners tell me that it’s going to be a diner – a greasy spoon minus the greasy.
I spoke to Bird and Ron this afternoon in their Kitsilano restaurant as their lunch rush was winding down. They both waxed on the draw of comfort food, establishing (easily) how there was a place for quality versions of it in the neighbourhood. “I like to eat healthy and I like to eat clean,” Bird explained. His goal, he says, will be to prep as much as he can in house, everything down to the hamburger buns and the condiments. For what it’s worth, I had a Fable burger just the other day and it was freakin’ delicious. These guys know what they’re doing.
It’s early days yet, but given that Fable is all about local suppliers and seasonality (the name being a play on “farm-to-table”), the new eatery can’t be as cheap as Reno, which has tabled an all-day breakfast for $3.99 for as long as I can remember. But I don’t imagine it will be exorbitantly expensive either.I’m looking forward to seeing how they thread the needle.
They hope to start construction in January, with a best case scenario opening date set for May the 4th. Hours of operation – with a full liquor license – will be continuous from 7am to 2am. Here’s hoping they keep the jukebox.