Mah Milk Bar is the joint effort of two cafe pros: Harry Swinburn, from Melbourne, Australia, and ‘Vancouverite’, Maggie Campbell. Since acquiring the keys to 1502 Victoria Drive (previously South China Seas Trading Co.) this past June, the duo has been working to remodel the 550-square-foot space on the corner of Victoria Drive and Grant Street into a proper neighbourhood ‘Milk Bar.’
“What’s a ‘Milk Bar’?” you ask. In Australia (where Swinburn is from, and Campbell has worked) it’s a go-to spot for daily basics, synonymous with a corner store. And that’s precisely what Mah Milk Bar hopes to become: somewhere for people to nip in to to grab milk or bread, or the eggs you ran out of halfway through making your breakfast pancakes. But the vision for Mah doesn’t stop at convenience; the deeper motivation here is to create a warm and welcoming space for the local community to congregate.
“We want to create a warm, welcoming space that offers all the conveniences of a small grocery store with the coziness of a local coffee shop,” says Campbell. “We will have fresh, high-quality espresso coffee and made-to-order breakfast and lunch options. We also want to give a platform to locally owned and produced brands and add value to the already amazing East Van community.”
Though the space is tiny, it’s still big enough to fit six indoor seats. A small North-facing patio area along Grant St. will offer up additional spots via built-in bench seating, where visitors can relax. As the duo is aiming to open in a couple of months, they’re already working on their stock selection to fill the compact store.
“We’ve dreamt about this for over five years, and now feels like the right time,” says Swinburn. “Vancouverites are starting to see the value in smaller, locally-owned businesses that help create a stronger sense of community.”
Fingers crossed for an opening day this Fall! Stay tune to the Mah Milk Bar Instagram feed here for updates.