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!
The list of shuttered Gastown restaurants is long and sadly growing longer. It’s an area in constant flux, fed with a steady stream of cruise ship normies and cultured foodies alike. And while the pandemic has been hard on a lot of neighbourhoods, I can’t help but feel like Gastown is taking the brunt. From boutique retail shops to dive bars, the list of closed or moved businesses reads like this:
Army and Navy, Wildebeest, Pub 340, Lamplighter, Clough Club, Irish Heather, Salt, Nouvelle Nouvelle, Livestock, Ollie Quinn, 131 Water Kitchen and Bar, MIA, Prado/Smart Mouth, Parliament, Peckinpah, Rogers Chocolates, E:cle, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, Poke Shop, Fresh Bowl, Structube, David’s Tea, Megabite Pizza, Litchfield, Orling and Wu, Espace D, ARC, Evo, Tuc Craft Kitchen, Six Hundred Four, M0851, Ampersand Bistro, Revel Room, Eyeland, Metropole, Nicli, La Mezcaleria, Charles Bar, Strike Mvmnt, Coquille, Bauhaus, Sardine Can, and probably a ton of others…
Add these to the fabled eateries already in the Restaurant Graveyard (Judas Goat, Mosquito, Boneta, Bauhuas, The Abbey, Cork and Fin, Tempranillo, Cobre, Sea Monstr Sushi, Chill Winston, and Blacktail Florist) and it feels like a revolving door. A lot of the places above have been replaced – Kozak in the Bauhaus/Boneta spot, Gringo in the Judas Goat location, Local in place of Chill Winston, and Roosh where Peckinpah used to be – so there’s some cautious optimism.
Without getting into the politics of high rents passed onto small business or the so-called worker shortage, Gastown is going through a rough patch. The sensationalist media stories painting the historic hood as some crime-ridden cesspool don’t help.
But for me one the most heartbreaking stories is that of the Greedy Pig. This cozy, unpretentious Saskatchewan-themed tavern was a beer- and bourbon-lovers’ living room (the drink list was created by none other than local barman, Nick Devine) with a seasonal food menu (the entirety of which could have been featured in the Comfort Food Guide to Vancouver) and an evocatively historic century-old room.
On top of the costs associated with the pandemic, owners Allison and Cameron McKinnon had to battle Cam’s throat cancer and resulting laryngectomy. With Cam unable to work, Allison struggled to keep the gastropub open.
sensationalist media coverage?? – are you serious….for five years now i’ve walked downtown from the commercial drive area past Powell street Brewing, past Christina Vancouver, passed Oppenheimer Park and through Gastown. While your propensity for sticking up for Vancouver’s most marginalized is admirable you are either being insincere or woefully ignorant
If anything the media coverage has been subdued. There’s a real problem with sick people openly injecting, defecating, threatening and worse and the problem has simply escalated in the last 30 months .
Be honest in your reporting – not ideological…its just not cool. An independent and thriving Gastown where local entrepreneurs putting their own capital at risk to show their creativity depends on safe streets
I live here Bob
I live in the neighborhood too and agree with Sean. Some of our neighbours have drug issues and no access to public facilities and are living as well as they can given their circumstances. I personally don’t want my neighbours swept away because they don’t meet some people’s preferences, I’d rather the people who have issues with my neighbours go to a mall where they can have the sterile environment they seek. I like the co-existence we have here. The business closures are not entirely related to neighbourhood, and likely associated with the experimental nature of some of the businesses or insufficient market to meet their business plans. Additionally, while there are a lot of closures, this has happened world-wide in Covid times, some closures have been planned in advance (all Army and Navy outlets in BC and AB, Orling and Wu to focus on their online store, Litchfield, etc), and there are many long term businesses still in operation, because they have a solid operating plan and plenty of customers who want to go there. Examples would be the tourist hotspot Spaghetti Factory, local favourites Nelson the Seagull, the Diamond, Milano, Six Acres, OK Boot Corrall, etc. I have never felt threatened or seen others threatened by my neighbours, they are either friendly if you meet the eye or doing their own thing if they do not.
And your point is what Sean? That the streets of Gastown are as clean, safe and enjoyable as ever?….that’s just simply isn’t the case and you don’t have to talk many of the increaingly fewer remaining independent business owners in Gastown to bear that out.
You are encouraged to do just that and feel free to report back in your op-ed
I agree with Bob. Keep up the so-called homeless fantasy and no businesses will go there. Parts of Detroit come to mind.
Gastown was like this for almost all of its history. They reinvented it as a cobblestone steampunk fantasy tourist trap in the 70s to save it being demolished for a waterfront freeway connector. In the early 2000s it went through another wave of gentrification and even more SROs and social housing were lost. Same with the Olympics- constant criminalization and displacement of the poor. Enter today where a poisoned drug supply has decimated PWUD and erased a long held code of conduct where apex predators have moved in. All this in a neighborhood named after a rapist. So yeah, sensationalist articles which ignore this history and refuse to acknowledge the deep structural inequalities and root causes of poverty and clutch pearls about graffiti and broken windows does Gastown a disservice.
Gastown has lost another gem. I will miss the good times, the delicious cocktails, and above all the welcoming atmosphere that the hosts provided. Sad to see another one of my favourite haunts close doors. 😔
My bands – The Judys- Jazzmanian Devils- Night Flower Orchestra – all played at The Greedy Pig. We loved it there. Allison and Cam were such excellent hosts. The two year anniversary of our last there is on Monday, coincidentally my birthday. I so wish it were still open, and the pandemic was over. Much love to you both, Allison and Cam, and thank you for your great support of the music scene.
There are better reasons than neighborhood decline for the closure, like Covid, business closures, 50%, then closed, blah blah blah. More than enough reasons.
I live here too and yes the area has greatly deteriorated, from a food scene things were probably at their peak around 2008-2012 or so. Still some great places here but the vibe is gone. The city has turned a blind eye to Gastown. Take a look at the condition of water st. It’s horrendous. Whatever happened to the promised footbridge from the end of Carrall over to crab park… the 100 block of West Hastings went from a huge success back to vacant block in a span off months. It’s sad. I appreciate the story about the greedy pig, it’s hours were sporadic for a long time and now I understand why. I will miss their food, the art on the wall and even the incredible Hulk gloves. Go Gainer!