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New “Ed’s Daily” Cafe & Commissary Kitchen Set For Spring Opening In Strathcona

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Local caterers Dax Droski and Brett Turner (Cocktails & Canapes) have taken over the 3,500 sqft main floor at 686 Powell Street on the northern extreme of Strathcona. The is to open a new neighbourhood cafe and commissary kitchen there by the end of April. It’s called Ed’s Daily, after Turner and Droski’s paternal grandfathers.

Construction – as you can see from the shots below – is already well underway. It’s been a big job, and it was still a big job during my walk-through yesterday. The place had been derelict for several years, but it’s got quite a past, as local historian Lani Russwurm noted a few years ago in her excellent Past Tense blog:

686 Powell Street was once known as the Bows and Arrows Hall. In Vancouver’s early decades, Squamish longshoremen specialized as lumber handlers on the waterfront. In 1906, they formed Local 526 of the Industrial Workers of the World (or Wobblies), and held their meetings on the Mission reserve in North Vancouver. Local 526 won some initial battles with the shipping companies, but was crushed the following year during a lockout designed to raise working hours and lower wages. In 1913, Squamish longshoremen again organized, this time into Local 38-57 of the International Longshoremen’s Association, which became known as the “Bows and Arrows.” Over the years, several prominent aboriginal leaders in BC earned a living as lumber handlers on the waterfront, notably Joe Capilano, Andrew Paull, and Dan George.

The Bows and Arrows Hall was used as the headquarters of the central strike committee during the 1935 waterfront strike. A police memo from June 1935 reported that “doormen are located inside each door, keeping watch and checking persons who may wish to enter. Nobody is allowed to enter without first giving a signal. As yet we do not know the correct signal.” Chief Constable Foster was hoping the ever-present police patrols on Heatley Street would encourage the strike committee to relocate.

At some point, perhaps in the 1950s, 686 Powell became a licensed establishment. In the early 1980s, punk bands with names like Face Value, the Tickets, and the Modernettes played there when it was called the Waterfront. Under the names Heatley Rooms and Teslin Lodge, the upstairs operated as an SRO hotel until 1991 when it was converted into Harbourfront Hostel. Downstairs became Teaser’s Bar & Grill, still under the grandfathered supper club license until it was shut down 2001. Keeping in line with its long history of failed social experimentation in the Downtown Eastside, City Council agreed to transfer the liquor license to Granville Street. This was a good thing, City staff argued, because there was “an over concentration of liquor licensed establishments” in the DTES, and – apparently – not enough on Granville.

Today 686 Powell sits empty and derelict, its history forgotten, while homeless people clutter the streets. I never would have noticed the building if I didn’t go looking. The absence of a “for sale” or “for lease” sign or development application shows that the owner got what they wanted – a lucrative liquor licence – and has no incentive to do anything with the leftover carcass except to sit on it until market conditions ripen.

And ripen they apparently have. The property has been significantly renovated, inside and out. There’s now plenty of natural light coming in through brand new windows that were cut into the walls. But if these walls could talk! The stories they would tell! The showers that the strippers used to use from when it was Teasers have been demo-ed to make room for more kitchen space, but the building’s past is still evident elsewhere. There’s some particularly great graffiti, for example, on the roof of the stairs down to the basement that dates from when it was a punk hideaway, and there’s still some visible through a light coat of paint on the basement’s walls. There are old brick archways in the office space, which I imagine used to be stable entrances around the turn of the 20th century. That might explain why there are classical equestrian metopes guarding the front door, but who knows?

Anyway, Ed’s Daily is going to be a 24 seater serving grab and go breakfasts and hot lunches cafeteria-style with a robust coffee program overseen by the good folks at Matchstick Coffee Roasters. I expect it’ll be a hive of activity, even when bereft of customers, as 3/4 of the space is given over to commissary purposes. They’ll be renting out the considerable kitchen space and equipment to start-ups and small businesses (eg. food trucks) who can’t afford kitchens of their own. They’ll also use it for classes, coffee cuppings, demos, special suppers, and a bunch of other things besides. Expect them to be open on May 1st, if not before. Take a look:

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  • Heatley Powell Historical Photo - south
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ALL ANTICIPATED OPENINGS

There is 1 comment

  1. I hope they will also offer the commissary for local uses like a community kitchen time, or tokens like what Save On Meats did. You can’t open up shop in such a community known for its grassroot strength without acknowledging and participating in its needs.

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