I can’t tell if its the four cups of coffee I’ve had today or genuine excitement, but I’m stoked about the coming of Nemesis at 302 Hastings Street. The 1,500 sqft space at the foot of the new SFU building overlooking Victory Square is in the early midst of construction now, but when it’s ready in early December it’ll be a voluminous, 40 seat, coffee/food-focused cafe named after the Greek goddess who always kept an eye on arrogance and hubris. A fitting name for an especially exacting and often precious milieu, no?
I checked it out earlier this week with the ownership group – all first timers – who are pictured above (left to right: Jess Reno; James Salmon; chef David Jackman; Cole Trepanier; Albert Tang; Michele Zuber; JP Santa Maria). It sounds like they’re aiming for Nemesis to slide right into the pre-existing, bustling, and competitive coffee scene as a temple to coffee culture. They want to help foster and celebrate it not only by the cup via beans from Melbourne’s famed and award-winning St. ALi (among others, like Pilot out of Toronto and possibly Mecca from Sydney), but also through a menu inspired by the world’s diverse coffee-producing regions. Expect hot and cold comfort foods, an in-house bread and pastry program, various cold brews and some craft beers for balance.
The chef is former Chopped Canada competitor David Jackman, who is no slouch (he was previously in the kitchen at Harvest and Merchant’s Oyster Bar), so it’s easy to see Nemesis as a possible game changer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind outsourced croissants and avocado slices on toast, but I’m on the side of anyone aiming to elevate the hitherto limited food game we’ve come to expect from coffee-first joints and so, I think, are a lot of other Vancouverites who are appreciative of the bean (witness the recent arrivals and successes of The Birds & The Beets and Bows & Arrows).
Nemesis’ address should prove interesting, seeing as it’s basically surrounded by marijuana dispensaries and head shops. It does, however, have a lock for daytime foot traffic, as it’s in the crossroads/arterial mix that includes the tasty, daytime likes of Nuba, La Taqueria, Meat & Bread, and Revolver. The interior is a blank slate of concrete and floor to ceiling glass, and Tetherstone doing the contracting/construction. I’ve seen the architectural drawings, and the owners painted a picture for me that included a big operations island dominating the space with deuce booths running down the length of the long wall. There’s also going to be a 20 seat sidewalk patio wrapping around the corner and up Hamilton St., so it has all the ingredients – on paper at least – for a pretty sweet hangout.
The hours are going to be from 7am to 7pm six days a week and 9am to 5pm on Sundays. They have a countdown on their website — we’re 47 days out as of today. Tick tock, and watch this space.
Great change from not too many years ago when the party line was you couldn’t possibly be serious about coffee if you spent any time on food.
This is a bold move, when they are just around the corner from easily the greatest shop in the city and minutes away from some of the others that could be considered in the top 5.
The building itself, a supposed condo for grad students (at outrageous prices) and the name of the building may cause some controversy.
And it is on the shadowy side of Hastings, while successful shops and SFU Harbour Centre, SFU Woodwards are on the sunny side of the street.
Best of luck. Hope the rent is low. Most of the independent stores, cafes at the SFU mountain village succumbed, and replaced by chains.