by Andrew Morrison | News of the coming of Joe Pizza in Gastown has local food lovers salivating at the prospect. It’s a cool concept and the owners – same as Ask For Luigi, Pourhouse, Pizzeria Farina and the highly anticipated St. Lawrence – have a pretty stellar track record of accessible deliciousness. But I’m not just looking forward to the food. The space, formerly Sean Heather’s old Rainier Provisions on the southwest corner of Carrall and Cordova, is a lovely one with a long and fascinating history of good times. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about it five years ago, along with some pictures of what it looked like the day that Sean Heather took it over:
The space – formerly Prime Time Chicken – has been the source of wild rumours for a couple of years. If you’ve been privy to them, you dreaded it was going to be a chain of some kind; a Keg, an American Apparel, a Cactus Club, you name it. In recent months, it’s been a rotating set for period movies and television shows, doubling for old Paris and then quick-changing to New York. That has only served to make the truth of its future even murkier. I’ve been told of many discussions and a few near signings — lots of restaurateurs and retailers have eye-balled the space […] Heather’s new pickup was pretty run down until recently. It’s been fixed up by BC Housing to the clean state of a starched skeleton, though its mosaic floor has been reduced to covering 1/4 of the total voluminous space. Its windows still drink up plenty of natural light, and air is thick with lore. Though this particular space doesn’t even have an official address any more, it was part of the The Rainer Hotel, built in 1907 for off-duty loggers and passers-through of every stripe. Once upon a time it was a bustling place, the outer navel of an earlier inner city.