Aaron Kafka (pictured above) took me on a walk-through of the third location of his eponymous cafe earlier this week. Located on the ground floor of the completely redone heritage building at 151 West Hastings Street, the 750 sqft space is set to open at some point this Fall.
Usually when I walk into a construction site I can use my imagination to see the end results. This is especially the case when the owner and/or the designer is next to me explaining the lay of it. I’ve done it many hundreds of times. But it didn’t work here; I’d known the exterior of the old Ormidale Building since I was a kid, but the part of it where the new Kafka’s is going had me genuinely flummoxed. The space was crowded with temporary drywall hoarding and there was a gigantic hole in the middle of the room that dropped down to a lower floor. Aaron patiently tried to explain the layout to me, even taking me outside again so we could start the tour from scratch. Did I get it now? Hell no.
Which is wonderful. After doing many hundreds of raw space walk-throughs like this, I’d prefer a surprise or two come opening day. I suspect that’ll be the case here. The four-storey, Edwardian Ormidale (built in the uncommon Richardsonian Romanesque style) was recently completely gutted, its interior replaced with a Class A building just inside the staid, old facade. Those responsible – B+H Architects – are award-winners when it comes to the tricky task of reimagining, renewing and repurposing old buildings by building new ones inside the old ones. In other words, what you see from the street (below) will be in stark contrast to the 21st century that awaits inside.
The Ormidale is now home base for Spaces, a newfangled co-working office company. Kafka’s has the frontage, with 16 seats split between the beautifully curved west and east windows. Aaron told me that he hopes to be submitting drawings for permitting this week or the next. Scott Cohen is doing the interior design, which should prove interesting (see also Nook, The Acorn, Les Faux Bourgeois, etc.). Considering the fact that Aaron has only just opened a new cafe on Great Northern Way (now hiring, btw), I doubt he’s in a frenzied rush.
When it finally does open and enter the fray of the most coffee-concentrated section of the city (Prado, Revolver, Nemesis, Timbertrain, etc. are all located within a pitching wedge of 151 West Hastings), the hours are expected to be from 7am to 6pm. I’ll slip back in and take some more photos after it starts taking proper, more tangible sense and shape (to me, at least). In the meantime, take a look inside…