Is Gastown’s Restaurant Scene Cooked?

With so many restaurants having closed in Gastown over the course of the pandemic there have been whispers among those in and out of the hospitality trade concerning its future as one of Vancouver’s most exciting neighbourhoods for good food and drink.

Among those that have recently shuttered are the consequential likes of Sardine Can, Bauhaus, Coquille, Tuc, Peckinpah, Nicli Antica Pizzeria, La Mezcaleria, Wildebeest and the Irish Heather. That is not the full list, and it is important to note that many excellent restaurants remain (eg. Pidgin, L’Abattoir, Pourhouse, among others), but it’s evidence enough that the neighbourhood’s culinary character has taken a big hit. The question is, can Gastown recover to be as good or even better than it was before?

Before you answer that, consider this: There have been several boom/bust cycles in Gastown’s 130 year history. It’s possible that the latest cycle only felt exceptional to us because we experienced it ourselves. Many of the new tastes, new operators, and new dining rooms that made the area in and around Gassy Jack Square so magnetic over the past 20 years were – for the most part – plugged into addresses that had seen it all before. But I think what made this cycle stand out to so many food and drink lovers across the city was how it was miraculously spared the big box and chain operations that were diluting the vibrancy and appeal of other neighbourhoods in those same 20 years.

For certain, every Gastown restaurant that went down during the pandemic will be replaced in the wake of the bust we’re enduring now, but therein lies the current anxiety. Replaced with what, exactly?

Will Gastown's restaurant scene recover to be as good or even better than it was before?

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There are 8 comments

  1. The city will have to re-evaluate the neighbourhood and remove cars driving through. In need of a redesign for open air dinning with tents and buskers and pedestrians. Only early morning delivers allowed. Just like the rest of the world’s best neighbourhoods. (Heart) it will take one city planner with a very loud voice and one developers deep pockets to pull this off.

  2. Ha! Must be a slow news month. Those restaurants have left Gastown because the area is popular and there is increased demand for the spaces and so rent is going up. Bauhaus was mismanaged, and the space already re-leased to something better. Irish Heather never fit that space and it was re-leased immediately. Peckinpah re-leased immediately. New flavors are coming!! Recent new members The Greek and Di Beppe and Twisted Fork weren’t even mentioned. Nor were staples the Flying Pig, and Jules. Wildebeest was not even in Gastown. Pretty lame reporting just focusing negative energy on the tired “has beens” instead of positive vibes on the energetic “up and comers”.

  3. Gastown is fine and will rebound. What is not fine, the local media dwelling on negative news stories. Kinda fed up with this narrative.

  4. I work in the VFX industry and have been working at various studios there for 8 years. I would guess close to 1000 high paid workers are not trekking down there on a daily basis any longer. I eat in my neighbourhood now close to my home office.

  5. Gastown was at its peak when Boneta was still in its original location, you has Cobre, Sea Monstr, Acme, Chill Winston, So.Cial, Judas Goat etc. I don’t see those days returning and it sucks as I live here. Country roads, twisted fork, and the Greek please… the Greek is not what Gastown needs. Thankful the diamond and L’abbotair are still around for now. Maybe if the city did its job and fixed the road as its been promising for a decade and pretending to care about the keeping the area clean it wouldn’t hurt. Seems the young blood has moved into railtown, strathcona, and Chinatown, unfortunately there isn’t enough of it to go around.

  6. Funny thing about restaurants, there’s some doe-eyed kid out there that’s dreaming up the next one, so I have no doubt we will see another surge of new faces, ideas and tastes, not only in Gastown, but filling ALL the spaces across Van that are closing, regardless of the reason. I wouldn’t have a restaurant in Gastown had a previous concept not vacated the space. It’s like a food chain… (See what I did there?)

    Does the city need to pick up it’s socks? Sure, but that’s been status quo since pre-Bon days. Tourism will come back, maybe some of the offices, too. In the meantime, we do what we gotta to get to the next month. I’m strangely optimistic, really, and anyone who knows me will tell you how weird that is.

    We’ll come back better, come hell or high water.

  7. I agree with everyone on this thread. Gastown will be fine but it also won’t be fine but it won’t be for the reasons the media will say it’s not fine

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