The ever-evolving Restaurant Graveyard series looks back at the countless, long-shuttered establishments that helped to propel Vancouver’s food and drink forward. Full A-Z with maps and photos here. May they never be forgotten!
Cafeteria was a short-lived, 30 seat restaurant from serial restaurateurs Chris Stewart and Andrey Durbach (see also “Parkside” and “Etoile” in the Restaurant Graveyard). It lasted two years in the heart of Mt. Pleasant at 2702 Main Street, opening in the summer of 2010 and closing in 2012. Previously, the address was home to a cult-hit looker called Ping’s Cafe.
Though definitely expressed with a European accent, Cafeteria’s concept cleaved close to no particular cuisine style. Stewart and Durbach wanted a no-frills, “super casual” eatery with a short and sweet wine list to compliment an ever-changing menu featuring dishes that never exceeded $20. The design, simple but slick, kept customer focus on what was on the plate and in the glass.
The opening day menu included the delicious likes of “Nobu-style” tuna and prawn sashimi, chicken schnitzel with spaetzle, Dungeness crab tortelloni, and butterscotch pudding. (I still vividly remember the schnitzel, which was superb.)
Stewart and Durbach sold the space to chef Andrea Carlson and her partner, Kevin Bismanis, who would soon thereafter open the award-winning and critically acclaimed Burdock & Co. in its place.
From my notes at the time, dated October 25, 2012:
Cafeteria owners Andrey Durbach and Chris Stewart knew that Carlson was looking for a spot in the area, and they were looking to down-size their far-flung operation without taking a loss (they also own Pied-a-Terre, La Buca, and The Sardine Can). A chat here, an email there, and the deal was done. All was set and signed back in September, but it wasn’t until last week that Carlson got the keys. She and Bismanis are hoping to turn it into a 30 seater – called Burdock & Co. – before the end of November.
Though I wouldn’t want to trade Burdock & Co. for Cafeteria, I can’t help but pine for the latter a little, and not just because the schnitzel was so good. The place was simple, focused and capable, and there was always something magic and interesting to be had.
The following images were taken just hours before Cafeteria’s very first guests were served. Take a good, close look at the menu shots. Don’t you think Cafeteria would be killing it if it was still around today?