Graze vegan restaurant to open in former location of Fray on Fraser

    1 of 3 2 of 3

      When Fray closed in March, the co-owners of the shuttered East Vancouver eatery revealed that its buyers plan to turn the place into a vegan restaurant.

      That fully vegan restaurant is called Graze (3980 Fraser Street), and its opening is set for early May. This week, Graze co-owners Michael Lyons and Bridget Burns told the Georgia Straight that their establishment will serve brunch and dinner, and fall into the casual fine-dining category.

      “We really felt that there was a big gap in the market here for people that are looking for a healthy, well-balanced, familiar, comforting, satiating meal that’s also plant-based,” Lyons said, seated next to Burns in a booth at the restaurant.

      Lyons, a 42-year-old entrepreneur, is Graze’s majority owner. Burns, the 31-year-old blogger behind The Vegan Project, is the restaurant’s general manager. The Mount Pleasant residents have hired Karen McAthy, the co-owner of Good Girl Bad Girl Preserves and the former chef at the W2 Media Café, as Graze’s executive chef.

      Last month, Fray co-owners Kyle Polanski and Chris Parry blamed a “partnership dispute” for the sale of their popular eatery near the intersection of Fraser Street and East 24th Avenue. In a statement posted online, they claimed that “a minority shareholder recently signed a contract to sell the business, against the instructions of the majority of investors”, exposing them to a lawsuit.

      Lyons maintained that no threat of legal action was necessary to see the deal go through.

      “We really don’t know the details of their internal problems,” Lyons stated. “It was on the market for eight months and so we bought it.”

      Graze is expected to open in early May.
      Stephen Hui

      Lyons and Burns took possession of the 88-seat space last week. They plan to overhaul the bar, set up a lounge area, and paint a mural on one wall. The aim is to create a “natural and comfortable” setting. This means lots of green, wood, and, according to Burns, a “balance of repurposed, vintage stuff with new—pops of new”.

      As for the food, Lyons said the menu will feature “creative twists on traditional items”. Dishes to watch out for include a fire-roasted vegetable pot pie with mashed sweet potatoes, gluten-free perogies, a Benedict, and pickled beet, yam, and sweet potato fries.

      The focus is cooked food, but there will be raw options. Ingredients will be local and organic as much as possible. Starters are expected to go for $6 to $11, while mains will cost $14 to $18.

      “We want to appeal to omnivores,” Burns said. “We want them to come in and try and be excited and inspired by the food.”

      Michael Lyons and Bridget Burns plan to open Vancouver’s newest vegan restaurant.
      Stephen Hui

      Graze has inherited Fray’s food-primary liquor licence. Notably, all the alcohol will be vegan. (Many common beers, wines, and liquors use animal products in the filtration process or as ingredients.)

      The restaurant will be open for dinner six nights a week and for brunch on weekends. But the co-owners said they’d consider changing their minds about closing on Mondays if there was demand for a Meatless Monday option.

      They also want to run Graze in a sustainable manner. To this end, they will have on-site composting and are looking at ways to use rainwater. The back parking lot will become a garden that will grow kale, tomatoes, and herbs for seasonal specials, and they also plan to source some produce from urban farms.

      “It’s making the plant-based food really accessible to people with all kinds of diets and achieving that multisided benefit of not having to worry about the environmental impact or a compassionate issue and knowing that you’re getting healthy food every time you dine,” Lyons said.

      Lyons and Burns admitted they’ve talked about potentially starting up a food truck and even more restaurants at other locations. But, for now, they’re focused on getting Graze ready for opening day.




      Apr 4, 2013 at 2:38pm

      Vegan perogies! Awesome. Can't wait.


      Apr 4, 2013 at 2:59pm

      Great to hear that they'll have vegan alcohol, but will they keep the $5 corkage fee The Fray offered?


      Apr 4, 2013 at 4:04pm

      This is a much needed addition to Vancouver's dining scene. I can't wait to try it!


      Apr 4, 2013 at 5:30pm

      Graze's owners, Lyons & Burns, have questions to answer, and they can try candycoating it all they want, but they won't be able to deny the ultimate truth - the opinion of their customer base. Fray was very popular with Cedar Cottage residents and when Fray closed down they wrote about it on the neighbourhood list serve. Thousands heard the story about what these new owners may have done. It came across as a kind of "take over", as if the new people had pirated the restaurant. If area residents come to this conclusion, and view Graze's people as unethical, Graze won't last long. Because nobody likes to support people who engage in aggressive and unethical business practices, and residents won't appreciate someone hoping to use their fortune to convince people otherwise.

      covey runner

      Apr 4, 2013 at 6:01pm

      certainly a more attractive ownership group.

      Gail and Steve duffy. Aka Jenny's mom and dad

      Apr 4, 2013 at 7:52pm

      Glad to see you have moved on from our pretty boring kitchen to your fabulous new digs! But a fabulous cook needs a fabulous kitchen.!, We wish you much success in your new endeavour. Bon Appetite!


      Apr 4, 2013 at 7:54pm


      Can't wait to check out the full menu. I hope they have a few sinful treats for us Vegans with a sweet tooth :-)

      And, luckily for those concerned about outsiders coming into the area, these guys are locals who have deep roots in this community.

      What a great new addition!


      Apr 4, 2013 at 10:02pm

      I can't wait to see this place open. The politics of what the previous owners were experiencing shouldn't even enter the conversation. Sellers who sell stuff (and their friends) shouldn't blame the unsuspecting buyer for buying their stuff. Be nice, "pennypincher"--people who pour their livelihoods into a small restaurant in an up and coming neighbourhood are taking a great leap and should succeed or fail on their merit alone, not on your ill-will.


      Apr 4, 2013 at 10:40pm

      A welcome edition to Vancouver's growing veggie dining scene. Hope you'll keep us posted on your path to opening day. Is there a website to bookmark?


      Apr 5, 2013 at 5:51am

      The menu looks like it will be very tasty. Who doesn't love a pot pie? And they take so much work to make, it is something really worth buying in a restaurant. Plus, if it is full of veggies, it won't be just tasty, but healthy too. Yumm!