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On Staff Orientation & Service Stories @ Gastown’s L’Abattoir


I’ve started researching for a couple of features for Vancouver magazine this week. One of them is on restaurant service across the city, which as I’m sure you’re aware can range from the outright deplorable to the superbly air tight. I’m taking it as an opportunity to work shifts at three different establishments that will hopefully reveal to readers some of the different kinds of styles and philosophies represented in the more fascinating coves of our restaurant scene. One of these will be the soon-to-open L’Abattoir in Gastown.

It’s my hope that participating in service through the prism of a hotly anticipated restaurant opening will prove of interest on several levels, not least because the exhilarating systems check that is opening night is something that only happens once in a restaurant’s lifetime. It’s then that you discover what works and what doesn’t, and when experience steps in to calibrate.

Staff orientation began yesterday, with the fourteen member front of house crew (several familiar faces) in their civvies listening to co-owner/chef Lee Cooper going over the menu, wine guy Jake Skakun explaining the list, and bar manager Shaun Layton (interview) presenting his cocktail list in a room that was still very much under construction (see pics below).

Though I wasn’t umbilically attached like the other staff, I was still a little nervous. It had been about 10 years since I’d done any sort of orientation in a restaurant, and nearly four since I hung up my apron and started writing full time. I’d like to think floor work is “old hat” or like shoes I can just slip back on whenever the fancy strikes, but the butterflies suggested very much otherwise. Good times…

The hall past the bar & kitchen toward the atrium...
The front door from the bar...
Co-owner Paul Grunberg takes a breather outside...
The front door from the mezzanine...

The back atrium...
The back atrium...


  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | The first day of demolition
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | Looking down at the entrance from the mezzanine
  • Paul Grunberg and Lee Cooper in the original Irish Heather space (before it was L'Abattoir)
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | The mezzanine
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | The mezzanine
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | Big windows
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | Looking upstairs from the entrance
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | The bar area
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | The 22 seat solarium
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | Paul inspects the ancient and sordid works of vandals
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | From the back hall looking toward the bar area
  • Demo day at L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | owners Lee Cooper, Paul Grunberg, and Nin Rai
  • L'Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown | From the solarium looking back toward the entrance

All Anticipated Openings

There are 2 comments

  1. I haven’t been quite as excited about a restaurant opening quite like this one. I have enormous respect for Paul having dealt with him in various locations in his career. He is a true professional. And I mean, come on, it’s in the old Irish Heather location, which cannot be duplicated anywhere on earth….

  2. I just tried L’Abattoir for the first time tonight.. thanks for letting us know about this incredible new Vancouver gem. I didn’t want to leave.