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DINER: New “Graze” Eatery To Serve Only Plant-Based Cuisine In Old “Fray” Address

A new restaurant called Graze is slated for the former Fray spot at 3980 Fraser. The 2000 sqft, 75-85 seat eatery will serve entirely plant-based comfort cuisine from chef Karen McAthy (she of Good Girl Bad Girl Preserves, lately of W2 Media Cafe, and caterer for Creative Mornings). The owners are local front of house vet Bridget Burns (Ginger 62, TheVeganProject.com) and “serial entrepreneur” Michael Lyons (not chef Michael Lyon of Kelowna).

Since Fray only announced its closure on March 17th and Graze intends to open in early May, it follows that most of the changes will be cosmetic. I know that the bar/lounge area is being expanded, but beyond painting and lighting (“organic textures and colours”), it sounds like renos will be kept to a minimum. They have access to another 2000 sqft upstairs (private functions, etc.), but that will be a second stage of construction, and well down the road after opening day.

The food concept appears to be closer to the Naam than The Acorn, which is to say a little simpler and more down home. Oh, and if term “plant-based” has you flummoxed, it’s just a less scary way of saying “vegan”. Think gluten-free, roasted yam and eggplant-stuffed perogies lit with garlic, applewood salt and smoked paprika; pickled beet fries; house made tofus; veggie pot pies and the like. There will be no lunch service, only supper and weekend brunch. I’m told that prices will be accessible, with everything on the menu under $20. “No one will leave hungry,” says Lyon.

Though I’ve only met her once (and briefly), McAthy struck me as very down to earth and committed (her kitchen will doing a lot of pickling, preserving, and smoking), and I assume from Burns’ own blog that ownership is invested in ways that transcend the financial.

Overall, though I think folks in the Fraserhood (and beyond) were rightly bummed to see the irrepressibly casual Fray fold, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Graze fill the vacuum with ease. There’s been an increasing demand for quality restaurants hereabouts, and meatless dining is definitely on the up and up. Smart restaurants are usually good restaurants, so I’m looking forward to this one (even if it’s bereft of bacon).


There are 17 comments

  1. Wow. Michaele Lyon. Of Canada Export Centre infamy. Can’t say I buy him as a Vegan restauranteur. Weird.

  2. Gawd. Why buy a burger place to sell rabbit food? Fray was packed every night with meateaters. Now they’re starting from scratch. Not a clever entrepreneur move.

  3. What Frog said. It might do allright, but right now I sure don’t see it.

  4. Chef Karen McAthy makes the best perogies! Yum, Can’t wait till Graze is open!

  5. This is a great addition to the neighbourhood, which already boasts Nice Shoes and Ferry Cakes (both cruelty-free business that don’t sell animal products). I can’t wait for it to open. Time for the ‘burger brains’ to expand their consciousnesses a little, don’t ya think?

  6. Closer to Naam than Acorn has me a bit scared, I hope they are better!
    Great addition to the neighbourhood, can’t wait for them to open!
    A bit sceptical of a vegan restaurant where the chef isn’t vegan, but I really hope they will be doing great!

  7. But Tim, you probably go to an Italian restaurant(for example) where the chef aint Italian!! No reasonably minded chef would be vegan.

  8. I’m very excited for this new eatery! But please don’t be like the Naam. That place is terrible. Service is the worst. The employees can barely even dress in a presentable manner.

  9. I think it’s entrepreneurial genius. There’s a massive market for plant based food in Vancouver, and based on the remarkably high quality of Bridget’s blog, the restaurant will no doubt blow us away. Rabbit food…pfft. Don’t be so narrow minded Bugs.

  10. Re: Geebs (first post at top of list). Learn to spell first, then get your info straight. I worked for Mr Lyons at Canada Export Centre and he was vegan even then and an environment activist too (check his fb page). This seems more natural a fit, but a much smaller venture. Can’t wait to try the food! Just what the neighbourhood needs.

  11. I’ve spent some time with this team, they’ll do very well. They’ve got conviction and integrity without the all the haughty self importance I see in other social good endeavors.

    Best of luck you two, kick some ass. (oh wait that wouldn’t be vegan, kick some …grass?)

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