The owner of Our Town Café had no idea of the outcry that would erupt after the news about his café's closure got out yesterday (May 3).
Dave Holmes, who owns both the building and the café, contacted the Georgia Straight today by phone to provide a more complete explanation of what happening. He said he didn't anticipate that the closure would even become a news story, let alone one that would spark discussion about real estate.
"In retrospect, it makes sense but at the time I did not think it was going to draw attention to the whole development issue in the neighbourhood," he said. "That's why I just wanted to make it clear, like 'Look, I'm not that guy. I'm a local, and I have every intention of carrying on the tradition of the café and I love the building and that's why I'm going to spend a significant amount of money to clean it up."
To back up a bit, Holmes said he purchased both the building and café at 245 East Broadway in 2015, as well the building and second Our Town Café at 1398 Kingsway (which was part of the deal).
Soon after the purchase, he sold off the Kingsway building and café. The Kingsway café was closed down by the new owners (which became a Pallet Coffee Roasters location).
Holmes said he brought the Kingsway staff over to his Mount Pleasant location, which had been open for about 14 years.
Because the Broadway building was becoming rundown, he filed a heritage application permit with the City of Vancouver to improve the exterior, address some safety concerns, and renovate the café interior, including improving the bathrooms, installing a stage and new lighting, restaining the floors, and more.
However, because the city approval process could take up to a year for approval, he had to close the café down and let his staff go as he has no idea when he will be able to reopen it. ("I shudder to think how long it could take," he said.)
When it does reopen, regulars will be pleased to know that the overall format will be the same.
Holmes said that the menu will remain largely the same but he may eliminate some items that weren't selling and introduce some new food selections.
With the creation of a proper stage, they will be able to continue hosting live music and events.
Most of all, he said he feel it's important to ensure the approximately 3,500-square-foot space remains a comfortable, inclusive, welcoming, and friendly environment.
He thanks customers for their loyalty and love for the café and hopes to reopen as soon as possible.