The Beautiful but Haunted Vancouver Restaurant That Never Lived Up to Its Potential

The ever-evolving Restaurant Graveyard series looks back at the countless, long-shuttered establishments that helped to propel Vancouver’s food and drink forward. Full A-Z with maps and photos here. May they never be forgotten!

Opened by Sean Sherwood in 2006, Century (aka Century House) was a ‘Modern Latin Cowboy’ themed restaurant located in the old Lola’s/Ballantyne’s address at 432 Richards Street. Though the food from opening chef Remi Dubois was sadly underwhelming (I once wrote that he’d “created a menu that read like Pablo Neruda’s most seductive poetry but tasted like the dull juvenilia of someone allergic to seasoning”), it had an interesting bar program that was sometimes tended by Ron Oliver and Simon Kaulback, the duo that would open the since shuttered Mamie Taylor’s in Chinatown several years later. The real attraction, however, was Century’s interior design, which – as the photos top and bottom attest – was on the gobsmacking side of altogether different.

It’s certainly not very often that an eatery with a Che Guevara mural opens in a 1912 Edwardian-era Beaux Arts-style bank building, especially one that came pre-loaded with a ridiculous amount of original character (eg. wine-stained marble floors, Italian Skyros marble walls, gorgeous door frames, shimmering mirrors and chandeliers, beautiful wainscotting, a genuine bank vault, etc.), not to mention its very own ghosts, among them the sobbing spirit of a young female bank teller who was – the story goes – shot dead during a hold-up.

Despite its fantastic interior, Sherwood’s original vision for Century was never realized, leading to his early exit from the project and its unfortunate transformation to a nightclub operation and private function space. It closed in 2011 without ever living up to a twentienth of its potential. Though the space has laid pretty much dormant for over a decade now, the old bones of the restaurant are still very much there, its basement kitchen and functioning dumbwaiter gathering dust beyond our field of vision. It’s really nothing short of a tragedy that this space remains closed to the public.

There are 6 comments

  1. Agree – It is a tragedy that this building has been dormant for 10 years. Such a historic interesting place.

  2. thanks for showcasing this. I loved the dark, moody, mystery vibe of this place. Great to see photos and hopefully it will one day be revived!

  3. The potential of this place is outstanding! Hope that someone will breathe new life into the space.

  4. Weirdy serendipitous that I was on Scout looking at the article about the Blnd Tger opening and saw this posted.

    Thanks for the memories, Andrew!

    Spot on with the commentary too. Remy was talented enough in classic French that I had visions of him being Andrey Durbach’s successor, but he didn’t realize how much he had bitten off with this concept I think. His ambition matched mine in many ways, and it was so gratifying to work with someone who was willing to dive into things as deeply. He did have some mind blowing dishes, but unfortunately when he missed, he missed hard.

    What did this one in was our difficult partnership. Already tested to the limit during Lucy Mae Brown’s rocketship rise, it became impossible to ignore that there were serious philosophical differences in all areas. This project brought some uncomfortable truths to light that ultimately couldn’t be ignored.

    Most people aren’t aware that when I sold out, it was a lucky bluff on my part that did it, but was unfortunately the nail in the coffin for the group.

    The crews we had were dreamers, professionals, exceptional in ambition, and primarily responsible for the successes we had. I owe a debt of gratitude to them all, and haven’t been at all surprised to see many of them open their own rooms to critical success.

    Thank you Andrew, for the memory!

  5. Sir, Sean Sherwood, who owns this place today? Do you know? Would they give me permission to investigate it for a couple of days?