“Looks different, eh?” Antonio Cayonne said late last week as we walked through the door of what will soon be revealed as Collective Goods. Different, indeed! The last time I’d seen the space was back when we broke the news of it in mid-May, back when BC’s Covid-19 vaccine intake was accelerating and the government was preparing to launch its four-step Restart Plan. It was a blank canvas, with only the kitchen and the shelving of the grocery wall suggesting anything of what we were looking at four months later. I remember they’d wanted to be open before the end of June, but these are strange, unpredictable times, and good things come to those who wait.
To refresh your memory of the project, here are some excerpts from that first story…
The 1,450 sqft restaurant, dubbed Collective Goods, is currently coming together at 3532 Commercial Street, where I recently met for a walk-through with GM Shiva Reddy and co-owners chef Sean Reeve, Andrew Jameson and Antonio Cayonne. Together, the group detailed the hybrid concept as part grocery, part wine shop and part bistro that will be open day and night selling everything from bottled sauces and bubbly from the retail side of the operation, and complete meal kits and fully menu’ed table service from the restaurant side.
It’s a business plan that was clearly conceived in a pandemic and mid-wifed by the myriad new realities that have given restaurateurs novel opportunities to not only sustain going concerns but also better and more fully serve the communities in which they operate. It’s very clever. Necessary, too.
The interior was still very much a work in progress on my visit but from what I saw I think we can anticipate something white, bright and woody. I spied stacks of butcher block table tops and green/blue cushioned chairs tucked away in the arched retail and wine nook, and didn’t find it difficult to imagine the four bar height seats at the open kitchen bar that Reeve was excited about.
I didn’t ask many questions about the menu (it’s too early) except to confirm that it wouldn’t be ‘bistro’ in the Parisian sense of that word, but rather a more casual, familiar expression of what we’ve seen from the group at The Mackenzie Room and Say Mercy! to date, which is to say chef-driven, Euro-ish, local and seasonal, tight but unfussy and real easy on the eyes. Jameson confirmed this straight up, saying he saw the new restaurant as a “casual version of The Mackenzie Room”.
While I haven’t held a menu in my hands, I’m told we might see things like a cheese and charcuterie plate, some chicken liver mousse, a duo of tartars, steak and fish mains, a Cornish game hen done in the Peri Peri style, and a house special burger. It all sounds very appetizing, and totally within the ballpark of what was expected. I’m looking forward to seeing how the opening menu integrates with the wine selections, which I haven’t seen or any heard word of. I’m also keen to witness diners say to their servers, mid-meal: “Can you please add two cans of crushed tomatoes, some pickled beans and a tin of sardines to my bill?” I know it isn’t unique in this fascinating day and age to seamlessly integrate retail into the restaurant experience (hats off to the smart and adaptable folks at Como Taperia and Caffe La Tana, among others), but the way they’re doing it at Collective Goods – making it not only a visual feast but also an operational anchor – is pretty cool. And doing it in a neighbourhood that needs it is even cooler.
Once again, the grocer is set to open at 10am on September 10th, with the restaurant set to start serving before the end of the month. We’ll update you on the exact day as soon as we know. The room isn’t completely set up in the photos below, but they nevertheless give you a sense of how much (and well) it has all come together…