East Van's Red Wagon reopens quietly after renovations

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      Hungry East Van all-day-breakfast lovers can finally leave the house or apartment again at the crack of noon.

      The Red Wagon, a wildly popular compact diner with French bistro leanings (2296 East Hastings Street, near Nanaimo) has reopened after a closure of a bit more than a month, mainly to shore up and replace an ancient floor that was slowly collapsing.

      Owner/chef Brad Miller, who opened up his nearby and newer sister restaurant—Powell Street's Bistro Wagon Rouge—for afternoon hours during the reno, told the Straight Sunday afternoon (May 8) during a break outside the kitchen door of his original six-year-old "neighbourhood joint" that he chose Friday (May 6) for a "soft reopening".

      "Yes, I'm working the line," he confirmed in response to a question about his chef's garb. He said his loyal customers, who usually create lineups well into the afternoon most days, were slowly coming back as word got out.

      One readily apparent sign of the work is a new black-and-white checkerboard linoleum floor. The walls also have a new coat of paint, the ceiling's original cedar beams (formerly hidden) have been given an airing, and the lunch counter is raised to bar height and has new stools.

      Menu-wise, the drinks list is tweaked (with the addition of artisanal sodas, among other changes) and there are a few new food items, including a smoked-bacon breakfast sandwich, a smoked-salmon omelette, chicken-noodle soup, a clubhouse sandwich, and a revamped, more traditional Cobb salad.

      Future changes might include a Garden Avenue side patio and extended evening hours.