Heather Hospitality opens Rainier Provisions in Gastown

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      Heather Hospitality Group, which owns over half a dozen Gastown-based restaurants including the Irish Heather Gastropub, Salt Tasting Room, and Judas Goat Taberna, opened Rainier Provisions (2 West Cordova Street) today (February 12).

      The restaurant located in the ground floor of the historic Rainier Hotel includes a deli counter and licenced café. The deli will feature local and hard-to-find artisan charcuterie and cheeses, such as those from East Vancouver’s Moccia Urbani, D-Original Sauage Company, Germany’s Drews Driessen, and England’s Neal’s Yard Dairy. Customers will also be able to purchase pantry items, including Italian olives, bottles of squid ink, mustards, and olive oil.

      The café portion of Rainier Provisions will house 102 seats—with plans to open a 40-seat patio by summer—and breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served. Diners can expect comfort food dishes such as roasted meats served with mashed potatoes, pot pies, sandwiches, and sausages. Vegan and vegetarian dishes will also be available. Coffee is provided by Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and 18 types of bourbon and six beers on-tap will be available at the bar.  


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      Feb 12, 2013 at 12:18pm

      Does anyone else feel like the location for this spot is kind of fucked?
      I mean, on "the ground floor of the historic Rainier Hotel" - no mention of the fact that the Rainier is the only women's-only supportive housing/treatment centre in the Downtown Eastside... I like artisan charcuterie as much as the next guy, maybe more, but I like social justice better. Do the social justice side of me and the foodie side of me need to be so diametrically opposed? I just want to eat delicious food in a location that isn't displacing vulnerable people and the places that serve them.

      Vancouver, y u make it so hard to like food *and* have a social conscience?


      Feb 12, 2013 at 6:29pm

      For the record, the agency that provide housing to the folks upstairs is our landlord too. They invited us into the space because after 18 years in Gastown, we have a record of giving back and getting along with our neighbors.

      We feed the 40 people upstairs once a month from the Irish Heather, and now we can feed these ladies once a week in Rainier Provisions. No money changes hands for these meals.

      I have also acted as a business mentor to a upstairs tenants, providing advice, in as much as I can, on job interviews, letter writing, etc

      We also are balancing the "pricey" charcuterie with a carvery based menu that offers hot meals for as little as $8 a plate.

      The lady who lived at the front door for 3 years Maggie has moved into one of our unused doorways. We frosted the windows on 3 sides and provided a combination pad lock on the gate so she can come and go as she pleases- she says that she feels safer now.

      Thing is, it is easy to find this sort of thing out - just drop by, have a look, ask a few questions. We are an open book on the subject when asked, just not comfortable shouting it from the rooftops.


      Sean Heather


      Feb 13, 2013 at 1:12am

      Hi Sean,

      I appreciate your response. I've heard previously about the Heather Hospitality Group's initiatives- I think they are great, and I commend your efforts. I have no intention to paint you or anyone involved with the project as heartless. I think a lot of what you do is good & well intentioned, including your artisan sausages.

      My initial sentiment, however, stands. In this city, I feel I am continually faced with the choice between supporting exciting local businesses, & feeling like a dick/enthusiastic participant in the displacement of poor people in the DTES for going in to said businesses to savour my (delicious) $6 ice cream.

      I'm not extreme; I'm not on the fringe; I'm not anti-business; I want to enjoy my goddamn charcuterie. I just think that higher-end businesses that choose to set up camp in the heart of the DTES are, despite their efforts to the contrary, contributing to the displacement of vulnerable people - and - I struggle to see how this is anything but self-evident.

      Gentrification - despite the best intentions and altruistic actions of those businesses moving into the area- is changing the neighbourhood, and will rather quickly make it more & more unfriendly to low-income people. This happens in spite of efforts to create bonds with existing service providers, groups, or individuals. Positive personal interactions do not mean that your presence is not part of a greater structural quandary. Influx of high-end stores = influx of high end consumers = desirability of neighbourhood goes up = poor people pushed out.

      Don't get me wrong: I'd love to see the DTES become a vibrant neighbourhood where all economic classes of people can totally hang & get along. But the housing market is too tight, and the middle class push for affordable real estate combined with a dearth of protected social housing will mean that low income people will be pushed out, if current trends prevail. Believing anything else seems willfully ignorant or delusional.

      I see expensive restaurants coming into a cheap area, and a sad splitscreen of wealth next to poverty. If things continue as they are, and we look at the 5 blocks surrounding Rainier Provisions in 5 years, what will it look like? A neighbourhood 'revitalized'? For whom?

      I just know that I sincerely wish I could go to Rainier Provisions without feeling I was betraying my values.


      Feb 13, 2013 at 1:15am

      p.s. Gold star to whomever can find the double negative (and figure out a way to phrase that sentence so that there isn't a double negative)!

      Martin Dunphy

      Feb 13, 2013 at 1:27am


      I don't see that as a true problematic construct, except for the repetitive sound of "not" so close together. That can be solved by changing one (or both) to its (their) contraction form(s).
      Yes, I know, overuse of contractions weakens one's writing. And sometimes I eat too many cookies.

      scott hawthorn

      Feb 13, 2013 at 3:48pm


      I am Sean's business partner in Rainier Provisions. I'd like to think that when you come in to the Rainier and enjoy your meal and experience that you feel good about yourself because YOU CHOOSE to support a place that is feeding everyone upstairs in the building once a month. Because you supported us we can afford to support others in the building. You should take some credit for this and feel good about yourself for doing so.

      Sean and I have given support to people and institutions in or that support the DES in some way direct or indirectly. We do it because we like to help out and think it's the right thing to do. We have always felt uncomfortable telling people about it or using it for marketing purposes so have been reluctant promote it in the past.

      But if you must ask we have specifically supported individual binners over the years, given 6000 lbs of fruit to the food bank a couple years ago, among many other things.

      For 7 years I have owned a space at 8 east cordova street that I give rent free to someone for a year to promote their idea (commercial or not). I also mentor that person to help them get their idea off the ground and onto a path they would like to go.

      Please support those that support others in ways that reflect your values.

      Happy Wednesday! :-)



      Feb 18, 2013 at 11:59am

      My apologies for the delayed response - I didn't see that you'd replied, Scott.

      It's clear that we aren't really talking about the same thing, here - because you listing off philanthropic or community partnerships doesn't impact or address my initial argument, or initial discomfort - which is that your presence in the Rainier building, whether benevolent or not, is contributing to that neighbourhood changing, and becoming a space that's no longer welcoming to low-income people.

      It is an uncomfortable thing with which to come to terms - and I don't expect to change your mind, or for you to really thoughtfully consider my argument. But I maintain that this isn't an issue that will be solved by charitable food giveaways, and to me it feels like your charity actions, though commendable, are a way for you to avoid confronting the fact that, despite your charity, the presence of high-end businesses in the neighbourhood contributes to long term negative effects on poor people who live and access services in the DTES.

      Happy Monday!


      Feb 22, 2013 at 1:50pm

      Dear Scott and Sean, I would just like you to know the vast majority of people living in Vancouver are proud of you guys trying to run a business while helping out. If no new business were opened our economy would never have the chance to grow, new jobs would be near impossible to create in small businesses and there would be people unemployed, longer. I think you and the guy running Pidgin are given little credit and based by the minority and I just hate to see it. I just hope you realize how much everyone wants to see you all succeed and make an example to all other business owners showing how you can make money while helping those unable to get out of a rut.

      Congratulations sir.