Graze Restaurant closes as company ponders new possibilities

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      One of Vancouver's more appealing vegetarian restaurants has shut its doors.

      Owner Michael Lyons and manager Bridget Burns opened Graze Restaurant in May 2013 at the former Fray location at 3980 Fraser Street. 

      “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 told the Straight at the time.

      Burns was a cofounder of the Vegan Project. She was let go two months after the opening and earlier this year, she won a $15,000 court judgement after filing a wrongful-dismissal suit.

      Every Tuesday night, the restaurant held fundraisers for worthy community causes.

      But nearly two weeks ago, Graze served its final meal.

      In a statement on the Graze website and Facebook page, Lyons thanked customers and wrote about how much he enjoyed promoting the acceptance and adoption of a plant-based diet.

      "I believe that we have demonstrated clearly that vegan cuisine is not just environmentally responsible and compassionate to other creatures and healthy for our bodies, but that it can also be creative, hearty, satiating and delicious! And you have told us definitively that you agree!"

      The message goes on to say that the company has been planning on developing retail products, including non-dairy nut-based cheeses.

      "Our next location will need a larger commercial kitchen for our cheese production and proper cheese storage space. While actively searching, an offer to take over our current location came along.  Although months sooner than we would have preferred, it was a reasonable opportunity—one that will allow us to pursue our other goals sooner."

      Stephen Hui

      Earlier this year, the Straight featured the then executive chef, Karen McAthy, in a cooking column by Michelle da Silva. McAthy, a vegan, talked about how much she enjoyed being able to work in a restaurant that didn't serve meat.

      “When you go down the path of becoming a vegan or vegetarian, it’s difficult finding places to practise that,” she said. “If you want to be a cook, you often have to do a lot of other things until the right place arrives and you can marry your professional interests with your ethics.”