A no messing around guide to the coolest things to eat, drink and do in Vancouver and beyond. Community. Not clickbait.

Five Years Ago This Week, Inside the Mess That Would Eventually Become ‘The Arbor’

L t R: Paul McCloskey, chef Rob Clarke, Scott Lewis and Shira Blustein.

For this edition of #ThrowbackThursday we go back exactly five years to the summer day when we first paid a visit to The Arbor construction site.

Time flies when you’re flipping great veggie burgers and dunking delicious fries! I remember this day well, back in June, 2016, when the gang from The Acorn showed me around their new spot just a few doors north of their higher end original. The casual restaurant wouldn’t open for several months (November, 2016), but at this point just the idea of The Arbor‘s simple meatless concept thrilled me as something the neighbourhood could really sink its teeth into. Here are my notes from the time, plus a gallery of photographs…

Shira Blustein and Scott Lewis, owners of the award-winning Acorn vegetarian restaurant on Main Street, have joined forces with former Farmer’s Apprentice frontman and wine guy Paul McCloskey to secure chef Wayne Martin’s old Crave on Main address (3941 Main St.). It will be the home of their latest effort, The Arbor.

They’ve only just taken possession of the seemingly cursed 1,000 sqft space (most recent iterations include Kitchen On Main, Pop-Up Kitchen, Tapas 23 — they fell in a blur, so forgive me if I got any of those names wrong), and I trust that they’re the solid, reliable crew that this spot has been waiting for. They have the requisite experience and reputation, plus a really solid-sounding concept.

The Arbor, I was told during a walk-through of the space last week, will see classic, always familiar comfort foods done up fast without meat. It will be similar to The Acorn next door in that chef Robert Clarke’s artfully inventive streak can’t be helped, but it will satisfy more traditional, casual cravings like Mac & Cheese or a vegetarian Big Mac-style double decker burger. Given that the future of The Acorn will now be forever tied to The Arbor, don’t expect them to skimp on quality ingredients. These guys are nothing if not adamant about local, seasonal, organic sourcing. They’ll be baking their own breads, and there will be gluten-free and vegan options for everything.

Setting it even farther apart from its sister restaurant is that fact that The Arbor will be open for quick counter-service lunches in addition to sit-down dinners. Further, the new restaurant will boast 28 outdoors seats — that’s 8 on the sidewalk-facing deck (through swing-up/down garage door frontage) and another 20 tucked away in the rear hideaway (the one gorgeous constant about this address has always been its back patio). Oh, if you’re unfamiliar with what an arbor is, it is a leafy, shady recess formed by tree branches, shrubs, etc.” Quite fitting, don’t you think?

  • IMG_8823
  • IMG_8874
  • IMG_8887
  • IMG_8872
  • IMG_8876
  • IMG_8870
  • IMG_8871
  • IMG_8886
  • IMG_8884
  • IMG_8877
  • IMG_8878
  • IMG_8883
  • IMG_8882
  • IMG_8880
  • IMG_8879
  • IMG_8893
  • IMG_8890
  • IMG_8865
  • IMG_8896

Neighbourhood: Main Street
3941 Main St.

Exactly Five Years Ago, One of Vancouver’s Best Restaurants Softly Opened in Chinatown

These photos were taken the night of the Japanese-Italian inspired restaurant's first friends and family service in late April, 2016.

Five Years Ago in East Van, Patiently Awaiting the Arrival of Really Good Pie

The new Pie Shoppe address allowed for more room and natural light, not to mention the ability to actually seat guests.

Five Years Ago Today, Inside the Beginnings of Nightingale Restaurant

I remember being floored by the sheer size of the project, which loomed more like a cathedral ruin than a restaurant.

Seven Years Ago Today, Awaiting the Launch of Gastown’s Short-Lived Blacktail Florist

I remember this walkabout very well, mostly because of how convinced I was of the likely success of the place. Alas, no.