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.