Richard Chew, namesake founder of Chewie’s Oyster Bar, is set to unveil a new eatery called Chewie’s Biscuit Co. at 2822 West 4th Avenue.
A tightly branded restaurant squarely focused on the deliciously simple American biscuit is a very good idea. It’s been tried, tested and true in the states immediately south of us (eg. Pine State Biscuits, Biscuit Bitch), but it remains something – somehow – that has hitherto escaped Vancouver’s food scene. Of course there are spots that offer good biscuits hereabouts (I’m partial to the ones at Juke Fried Chicken), but no local establishment I know of is all about the biscuits.
That might be changing very shortly. With Richard Chew having sold his stake in the chainlet that still bears his name (thanks to a licensing deal), he was free to pursue a far simpler project, one that he’d long been dreaming of. “I’ve been looking for the right space for this idea for years.” he says. He’s lucky no other Vancouver restaurateur broke ground on it before he did, for this was about as inevitable a concept as Neapolitan pizza or “Nashville Hot” fried chicken.
Opening day for the new Chewie’s Biscuit Co. concept is being set for next Wednesday, September 19th, but by the looks of the place on my walk-through yesterday it might even open sooner. It’s looking good in there. Richard and his new business partner, Fred Gunn, took possession of the old Raviolini’s space on July 1st and have since transformed it into a 1,400 sqft, counter service restaurant complete with banquette seating, a long communal table and several bar-height window stools (32 seats in total). The branding by Glasfurd & Walker is on point, as is the slogan: “Better in a Biscuit”. Oh, and the associated concept imagery has me typing in a puddle.
I’ve seen the menu, and it’s as if my buttermilk biscuit dreams are coming true. There are NINE different biscuit set ups, and that’s not including the sweeter stuff like French toast biscuits and inside-out cinnamon buns. We’re talking fried chicken and bacon with sausage gravy, egg and cheese; a burger biscuit with an all beef patty, garlic aioli, onion bacon jam, lettuce, cheese and tomato; a fried chicken drumstick plonked on top of a “bonut” (biscuit donut) with a sweet and sticky glaze — and four others that are just as odd, if not more so. Seriously, the menu reads as if it were co-written by Elvis Presley, Willy Wonka and Martha Stewart between massive bong hits. It’s a good thing.
Chewie’s Biscuit Co. is a family affair, as Richard’s wife Tamara Fay and her sons Liam and Ciaran are in on the project, too (Liam is a trained baker). The goal from the start, Richard explains, is “to bring something a bit different to the sandwich game.” By the looks of things, I reckon he’s accomplished that. Indeed, if it’s as good as it looks I’d wager it will draw a crowd too (perhaps as big as the ones we’ve seen hungrily congregating daily – and now nightly – outside the new Downlow Chicken Shack on The Drive).
Opening hours will be from 9am to 6pm to start, but those could expand to include evenings if the demand is there. Bonus: They’re licensed with beers from Parkside and Whistler Brewing on tap, plus a couple of wines. Local roaster Agro is supplying the espresso.
Take a closer look, and try not to drool all over your keyboard like I did…