It's the end of an era in the West End as two longtime neighbourhood favourites are shutting down after operating for over 40 years in business.
The gathering spot Dover Arms Pub at 961 Denman Street is set to close in April. It was established in the 1970s.
The 2,645-square-foot premises packed in loyal patrons, even on sunny Sunday afternoons, with its mix of live bands, sports on TV screens, drink specials, and comfort food, such as bangers and mash, burgers, poutine, brunch items, and more.
While the closure was confirmed by a staff member, the Georgia Straight is awaiting a response for an interview with the pub's owner.
Meanwhile, the equally longstanding, family-run West Valley Market will close down at 1156 Bute Street, just off Davie Street near the rainbow crosswalks.
By phone, owner Colin Lo talked about his family's 5,000-square-foot grocery store, which spans two annexed storefronts, opened in 1975 and offered local residents a range of produce, seafood, frozen food, dry goods, flowers, and various other grocery items.
Lo explained that due to a lack of parking, they primarily focused on residents within a five- to 10-block radius from their location, giving the business a hyperlocal focus. For instance, in response to the large international student population in the area, they increased the amount of food items from certain international cuisines such as Korean, Japanese, Thai, Indian, and Mexican.
Although there has been some increased competition with Kin's Market and Your Independent Grocer having opened up in the area over the past few years, Lo said neither that aspect nor any rent increases factored into their main decision to close.
Originally opened by the Lo brothers—Bob, Alfred, and Colin's father Andrew (who immigrated from Hong Kong)—Colin and his mother Fanny took it over about a decade ago.
By phone, Colin Lo said that in preparation for their closure, they've already shortened hours, are clearing out stock, and will shut down by mid-April.
He emphasized that they weren't forced to close and that their decision to close was their choice due to his aging parents and his own inability to run the store on his own.
"They really enjoyed being in the store," he said of his parents. "My dad really loved to work there but…we're just tired…They need a vacation!"
He laughed as he said that, adding that people will probably more understanding if they're aware of that fact.
He explained that they work 14 to 15 hours per day, seven days a week throughout the year, and only closed for Christmas.
Lo said that as he has been a realtor for about seven years, he also reduced his involvement with the store for the past three or four years.
Despite their fatigue, he expressed great appreciation for the support and loyalty from customers over the years.
"It's really bittersweet because on one hand, of course we'd love to continue serving the community but on the other hand, my parents are getting pretty old and a lot of the time, it's a tough business, and I personally can't run it by myself," he said. "We have a really loyal following. A lot of our customers became really good friends and we're going to miss the relationships, the talks, and just everything."