Vancouver’s inventory of independent neighbourhood restaurants fell by two with last week’s announcements of the closure of Dock Lunch and Oh Carolina, so it’s particularly nice timing for some positive restaurant-related news. Luckily for us, ‘It’s Okay Bar‘ is stepping up to the task.
Behind the project are co-owners Colin Canning (Tacofino, Blueprint), Michael Sanderson (La Bomba), and Alex Dulong (Hero’s Welcome/GoodCo Bars). Located at 2481 East Hastings Street, between legacy business Rio Friendly Meats and TD Bank, It’s Okay is a freshly painted (bright green) anomaly on the block that will be hard to miss.
For a refresher, take a read through our story on the project from last September:
“While the concept – a proper neighbourhood bar – has been a shared dream for several years, the team was patiently waiting to find the right address before their vision could unfold.
They knew Hastings-Sunrise was where they wanted to be, so when the old Master Chef space (also What’s Up Hot Dog, and most recently Bad Apple) on East Hastings came available, they pounced. The size of the room (which clocks in at 900 sqft, with 35 seats total including a 10 at the bar) felt right, the neighbourhood was ideal, and it didn’t hurt that it came with sweet 2am licence.”
When I met with the team back then, they explained their vision as “an immersive experience with classic bar decor that brings art, design, music, and a trend-forward aesthetic to the forefront”… Essentially, they wanted to channel a 1970s New York neighbourhood bar. I wasn’t frequenting NYC neighbourhood bars in the 70s – so don’t get on my back about the specifics of authenticity – but from what I saw when I took a tour through the space on Wednesday, January 10th (and what the photos above and below show), It’s Okay is ready to roll on schedule and on point with a late 70s feel.
The Room | Studio Roslyn did a great job with the room: nothing gimmicky, just a subtle throwback vibe that lands in a comfortable way. A combination of a modest but aesthetically appropriate cut of 70s style carpet on the floor and a large format photo collage of Magic Johnson in action on the wall anchor the front seating area. The remainder of the room is taken up by a west-facing ten-seat bar under an avocado green and dusty rose curtain canopy and four booths running the east wall. Wood panelling throughout and an eggplant coloured ceiling tie the room together. There are a few screens ready to stream sports, but no windows aside from those looking south onto East Hastings, which allow just enough natural light for you to distinguish between night and day – but not enough to gauge the exact time without the aid of a clock. In other words: the perfect amount.
The Drinks | Think a nice selection of draft and canned beer, some wine (half-priced bottles on Sundays) and a few cocktails. On my pre-opening visit, a gentleman from the neighbourhood stuck his head in to ask, in an almost accusatory tone at first, if It’s Okay would be serving non-fancy, affordable beer. Thankfully for all, the answer is “yes”: $5 non-fancy beers can be had – along with bottomless bowls of pretzels, if you come on a Wednesday. The full menu is viewable in the photo gallery below.
The Food | It’s Okay offers classic bar snacks (house made salt & vinegar chips, pretzels, pickles, shishito peppers, chicken wings and arancini), as well as more substantial items such as sandwiches (chicken schnitzel, chopped cheese, spicy Italian and artichoke, to name a few) and a line-up of salads (arugula fennel, squash farro and traditional Caesar). It’s also worth mentioning that some genius on the team has added McCain Deep’n Delicious as the sole dessert – why would you want anything else? Scope out the entire food menu in the photo gallery below.
It’s Okay bravely plans to “officially” open door tomorrow (Friday, January 13th – as in “Friday the 13th”). That’s some anti-superstitious confidence, right there! Get in and feel good. Check the It’s Okay IG feed for hours and daily specials.
Owners | Colin Canning (Tacofino/Blueprint), Michael Sanderson (La Bomba), and Alex Dulong (Hero’s Welcome/GoodCo. Bars)
Design | Kate Snyder and Jessica MacDonald, of Studio Roslyn
Take a sneak peek at what to expect via the photo gallery below…