It’s important to have a strong support system when you open a restaurant, but to open a second restaurant — just six weeks after opening your first — is an undertaking that will test the strongest of relationships (if you didn’t call in all of your favours round one, you definitely will in round two). It’s a good thing that this crew is big enough to be a support network unto itself.
A refresher on the mighty brigade of hospitality industry vets embarking on this project:
Ezra Kish (The Cobalt, The Boxcar, The Ellis Building and formerly The American) will be handling construction and management; Erin Rideout (who has spent many years working in / managing bars and restaurants in Vancouver, many on Main Street) will be on Front of House and the wine and beverage program duty. Todd Graham of HandTaste Ferments and Kody Abrams (previously Greenhorn Cafe) will be in the kitchen. Rayne Williams (formerly lead barista and coffee roaster at East Van Coffee Roasters) will be sparkling on the floor (and making sure the coffee program is tight). And finally, Tam Fuller (an all-around excellent human and local maker) will apply all kinds of elbow grease to transform the space into a new Main Street community hub.
The crew just picked up keys to the space yesterday. I met them last night to look around and ask a few questions about their plans for 2420 Main street. Here is what they had to say…
First thing first – what is the name of your new project? “No name yet. We are a team of six very different people, and we’re all creative (and odd), so many names have been floated thus far, but nothing has been decided. We can tell you it will end in “by Wild Thing” or start with “ Wild Thing presents”.
Concept: “This one is a pirate bar. . . kidding. . . I think we’re kidding. Definitely kidding. We love Wild Thing, and our neighbours and our block of Powell Street. We are very happy with what we have and are creating there. Over here on Main street we have been given a bigger platform (and a bigger kitchen) to express ourselves. We come from worlds of music, skateboarding, comics, art. We’re also from all over: Nova Scotia, Semiahmoo, Vancouver; some of us spent time living in Seattle or Australia for years. We want to relax a bit more and show more of our origin story. The things that shaped us.”
Menu: “The Menu will be similar to the vegetarian & vegan menu at Wild Thing, but with the addition of some small amounts of seafood and meat options (but the majority of our focus will remain on vegetarian and vegan food). We’re aiming for the food to be approachable and affordable with a strong emphasis on local and small farm ingredients wherever possible. All non-vegetarian options will be local, organic and free range.”
Team: “Everyone that has been a part of developing and shaping Wild Thing Powell Street is a part of this new project. So yes, same misfits, different address. Most of us have lived and worked in this neighbourhood for most of our adult lives. I’m pretty comfortable saying that a lot of us had the ultimate goal to be able to do something over here. To be among Hyde, Budgies, Superbabba, Kranky Cafe, Antisocial is honestly the best. Even more exciting is how much more money we will all be spending at Dimension 8 and Pulp Fiction.”
The bones of 2420 Main (Wallflower Restaurant since 2009, and before that, Aurora Bistro) are pretty darn nice. This team is well aware of that fact (hat tip to Chef Jeff Van Geest, who transformed the space back in 2003 to what will forever be one of the most impactful and beautiful restaurants of its day – Aurora Bistro). Plans are to clean it up and restore the good stuff while updating and adding their personality to the room.
From co-owner Erin Rideout: “Where Wild Thing ” is meant to be a bright, earthy, light escape from the city where you can sit down to have a nice glass of wine and plant-based snacks. Our focus on Main Street will be providing something new to the area for brunch, dinner and bar snacks. The Main street spot will feel a lot more like finding that fun, creative, hang-out place. More for the eye to look at. Ironically this spot could be more “wild” than Wild Thing.” If we heard someone walk in and say “this is neat’’, “look at that, that’s rad,” or “Wow, they have this on the menu?!” we wouldn’t be mad. We don’t want anyone to feel like they are walking into someone else’s clubhouse or that the menu or room doesn’t have something to offer them. It’s been our goal from coming together to be as inclusive as we can be. It’s hard to check every box, but we will keep doing our best.”
This ambitious team aims to have doors open in six weeks. No structural changes are required, and on my visit, last night, co-owners Ezra Kish and Tam Fuller were already busy pulling back the drywall and inspecting flooring — so they may just achieve their goal.
Main Street can look forward to a new independent restaurant run by a team of pals who have lived and worked in this neighbourhood for decades (by Kish’s estimation, they have a combined 100 years of Mount Pleasant experience as business owners and residents between them) at some point in September.
As co-owner Rayne Williams explains, “It’s a phenomenal feeling that Eric and Heather (owners of Wallflower) trust us to take over the space and to make sure it continues to thrive and serve the community.”
Stay tuned for updates… in the meantime, have a look at the photo gallery below and follow Wild Thing on Instagram here.
Congratulations to Ezra Kish, Erin Rideout, Todd Graham, Kody Abrams, Rayne Williams and Tam Fuller (and special thanks to Erin Rideout for taking the time to provide thoughtful answers to my many questions).