End of a sarcastic era: Sassy LGBT brunch spot Elbow Room Café closes its Davie Street location

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      After 35 years, a sassy spot in the city has gone silent.

      Infamous for dishing up “big-ass” brunch with a side of sarcasm, Elbow Room Cafe closed its doors at 560 Davie Street today (October 30) for its last time at that location—but its future still remains up in the air.

      The restaurant is located on a site owned by the city that will be redeveloped for new housing and its lease expires on October 31.

      Bryan Searle (right), with partner Patrice Savoie in the short film "A Little Elbow Room" (by Mavreen David).
      NATIONAL SCREEN INSTITUTE

      Founded by Patrick Savoie and his husband Bryan Searle in 1983, the spot originally opened at 720 Jervis Street (north of Robson Street) before it relocated to its current venue straddling Yaletown and the West End in 1996. (Searle died in 2017 at age 87.) 

      The menu included items such as the Elbow Room's World Famous Big Ass Pancakes, the Mr. Nelson country-style breakfast ("He loves his meat"), the Rocky Five (Not the Movie) eggs benedict, "I Have No Imagination" omelettes, and the Tom Selleck burger.

      The Elbow Room

      What set the eatery apart from other brunching destinations was the humorous and entertaining insults from its servers.

      A sign on the window states "In the event of a lineup please give your name to the hostess inside. Leave your bad attitude outside!” while the menu warns "Food and service is our name, abuse is our game!" and lists a number of "rules" about their unconventional approach to service.

      Craig Takeuchi

      In addition to its sassy servers, it became a popular hangout for local LGBT communities.

      During the onset and height of the AIDS crisis, the restaurant rose to the challenge of supporting those with HIV/AIDS and has continued to the present day to contribute to HIV causes. For instance, diners who were unable to finish their meals were asked to donate to local HIV organization A Loving Spoonful, which the eatery raised over $123,000 for.

      Elbow Room server Nelson Lamarche (left) with Elbow Room: The Musical cast members David Adams, Justin Lapeña, and Allan Zinyk.
      TRACEY KUSIEWICZ

      The story of the storied eatery was told on stage in Elbow Room Café: The Musical, by local playwright Dave Deveau. Filmmaker Mavreen David also made a short documentary "A Little Elbow Room" about the eatery. 

      General manager Nelson Lamarche had told the Georgia Straight in an interview that whether or not the restaurant would reopen at some point remains undetermined. 

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