Steven Clarke says it’s a challenge for his family and many others to find food that’s both convenient and nutritious. Accordingly, Clarke and his wife Meghan are working on a new restaurant that will serve “everyday healthy foods” in Vancouver.
In an interview, Clarke told the Georgia Straight that the menu at Tractor (1903 West 4th Avenue), which they hope to open by the end of April, will be focused on salads, soups, sandwiches, and stews.
“They’re all healthy comfort foods, and they’re all actually quite painful to assemble on your own at home,” Clarke said in a Kitsilano coffee shop, after showing the Straight his restaurant’s under-construction location at the corner of West 4th Avenue and Cypress Street.
Clarke, a 38-year-old former banker who lives in Dunbar, took over the 1,400-square-foot space on February 1. It previously housed the Plasmabed Store and, before that, a Play N Trade video-game shop. When the Straight visited the site, there were mounds of dirt on the concrete floor and workers were in the midst of doing trenching in preparation for piping.
According to Clarke, future customers should expect a cafeteria-style restaurant offering “real food” that’s “heavy on veggies”. The food will be cooked and served from an open-concept kitchen. Sit-down and take-out patrons will order and pay at the counter.
Clarke noted that he’s in the “late stages” of hiring a chef. But he envisions a menu of 20 or so items, including 10 to 12 salads. Customers will assemble their own meals, perhaps by ordering a mix of salads—such as a kale and apple salad with pine nuts; a golden beet, fennel, and jicama salad; and a sugar snap pea salad with radishes and walnuts—with “protein add-ons” like grilled organic chicken and wild fish.
“That’s a lot of salads, for sure,” Clarke said. “But frankly it’s a bit of a statement on how we think of the world. We think there will be a really beautiful variety in taste and a beautiful variety in look.”
As for price range, a “hearty dinner” might come to $15, while a “light lunch” could cost under $10. Food will be priced by portion—say a scoop of salad—rather than by weight. Tractor will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Clarke still has to apply for a building permit, a patio permit, and a food-primary liquor licence. Tractor’s floor plan shows seating for 35 people inside and another 18 on the proposed patio, which would occupy city property on Cypress Street.
David Wong of WHG Design is designing the “bright, modern” and cozy interior. There will be “lots of white, lots of greys”, and tables of reclaimed wood will rise from the concrete floor, according to Clarke.
“We really think clean is important, so we want you to be able to see everything and see how clean everything is,” Clarke said. “There is literally nothing behind closed doors, except my little desk chair and that’s it.”
Clarke noted the restaurant’s target market is 30-to-50-year-old health-conscious women. He believes Tractor’s location—by a cluster of restaurants on West 4th Avenue, a few doors away from a YYoga studio, and up the road from Lululemon Athletica’s headquarters—is perfect for their concept.
“It just feels like the right neighbourhood for healthy food,” Clarke said.