While Vancouver is known for its fresh look thanks to the perpetual rain, its architecture also looks strikingly contemporary and youthful, compared to numerous other cities. But that's because it is.
The continual erasure of the past and a perpetual construction of replacements have posited the city within an infinite loop of nowness.
In the early 2010s, Vancouverites began to see some familiar, longtime storefronts and venues shut down, such as Duthie Books, Videomatica (which has relocated within Zulu Records), and the Ridge Theatre. This wave of closures took place amid industry shifts due to technology and mushrooming competition from online sources.
Then in 2015, there were the shutterings of numerous big-name retailers such as Chapters (on Robson), Target Canada, Sony Canada, and Mexx Canada (not to mention Canadian LGBT newspaper Xtra shifting from print to online only.)
Over the past year, a series of longtime businesses have been shutting down throughout the city.
Many of the family-run operations calling it quits have been due to reasons ranging from retirement to health problems. Yet quite a notable number of closures are due to development or rising rents.
While we normally compile obituaries at the end of each year, it's quite telling when it becomes significant to list all the familiar establishments that have been lost.
While there are undoubtedly countless more than are listed here and there are also many that have relocated, such as All India Sweets or Cactus Club Richmond, here's a roundup (listed in chronological order of closing dates) of many of the well-known or significant businesses that we bid adieu to this year.
3035 West Broadway
This Kitsilano hot spot for late-night study sessions permanently closed its doors in January after 24 years of operating (for the most part) 24 hours a day. Owner Hiu Wan decided to shift his focus to his catering business instead.
In January, the company, after filing for bankruptcy protection, announced it would be shutting down all 102 of its Canadian outlets. That included its location at 1148 Robson Street, which opened in December 2014.
2301 Main Street
This 15-year-old Mount Pleasant vegetarian restaurant closed on February 26.
Hot Art Wet City
2206 Main Street
Across the street from the Foundation, this Mount Pleasant art gallery, which opened in April 2013, shut its doors on March 31 after facing rent increases when its lease was up but is in operation and running events.
Lolita's South of the Border Cantina
1325 Davie Street
695 Cambie Street
In April, the Georgia Straight reported that this live-music venue was set to close. As part of plans to reopen a vacant space above the Media Club (which the Media Club space will be a part of), the City of Vancouver decided not to renew the Media Club's lease.
Dover Arms Pub
961 Denman Street
A West End pub that would pack in patrons wall to wall even on sunny Sunday afternoons, it went permanently dark in April after over 40 years of good times.
West Valley Market
1156 Bute Street
Opened in 1975, this family-run West End grocery store decided to close down in April as well for retirement reasons.
In May, this local footwear chain announced that it would be liquidating all inventory. The longest-running locally based business on this list, it has just celebrated its 100th anniversary two years ago by launching a new flagship store at 900 West Hastings Street in 2015.
However, heightened online competition in addition to rising rents and wages caused the company to shutter after 102 years.
In the Lower Mainland, the company had locations in Oakridge Centre, Park Royal South, Brentwood Mall, and Richmond Centre, in addition to a Victoria location at Hillside Shopping Centre.
Our Town Café
245 East Broadway
Situated at the nexus of Broadway and Kingsway, this 14-year-old Mount Pleasant coffee shop shut down on May 3. The owner informed the Georgia Straight that he is renovating the building and hopes to reopen the café in the future.
Vancouver Art and Leisure
1965 Main Street
This independent, queer-friendly, artist-run gallery and music venue had to leave the premises it inhabited since 2015 on June 6. The organization was unable to negotiate an extension on their tenancy. That location has housed artist organizations for 25 years.
2603 West 16th Avenue
With almost 20 years under its belt, this restaurant, which straddled Kitsilano and Arbutus neighbourhoods, served its final French-inspired meals on June 18. Its related pastry and dessert shop, Sweet Obsessions (2611 West 16th Avenue), continues to operate.
Francesco's Ristorante Italia
860 Burrard Street
Across the street from the Sutton Place Hotel, this Italian restaurant opened as Don Francesco Ristorante in 2002. It was sold to new owners in 2013 and closed on June 25. The location was taken over by Italian Kitchen, which relocated from 1037 Burrard Street, only a few blocks away.
1125 Robson Street
The formerly popular American apparel chain vacated its premises in June to make way for Japanese retailer Muji, which opened on December 2.
Seymour Street parkade
This parkade was shut down in July to make way for a new 33-storey office tower at 753 Seymour Street.
Numerous gas stations have been shutting down over the past few years. Chevron closed three gas stations in 2016. In 2017, the company sold off five West Side locations to developers:
- Oak Street and West 41st Avenue (on August 16)
- Cambie Street and West 16th Avenue (on August 18)
- Cambie Street and West 59th Avenue
- Macdonald Street and West 4th Avenue
- West Broadway and Alma Street
Safeway English Bay and B.C. Liquor Store
Numerous businesses on the 1600 Davie Street either shut down or relocated due to plans for redevelopment. On August 23, the B.C. Liquor Store closed down but plans to reopen in the new development, as will Safeway English Bay (1641 Davie Street), which shut down on August 31.
14 Water Street
When Vancouver ecofriendly fashion designer Nicole Bridger decided to streamline her stock, she closed her Gastown flagship store in September and has shifted to online orders and pop-up shops.
1235 Davie Street
This longrunning Italian restaurant said goodbye to the Davie Village in September after several decades in business.
3 Alexander Street
After 11 years as part of Vancouver's dining and nightlife scene, this Gastown gastropub ended its run in September. The space was sold to the Joey Restaurant Group.
Cloud 9 Revolving Restaurant and the Empire Landmark Hotel
1400 Robson Street
As one of the two revolving restaurants in the city offering diners panoramic views of the city, Cloud 9 Revolving Restaurant at the top of the Empire Landmark Hotel closed down on September 30. The Empire Landmark Hotel, built in 1973, also shut down to make way for new development.
Operating since 1953, this department store began liquidation sales on October 19. The company operated stores at Capilano Mall in North Vancouver, Metrotown and Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby, Guildford Town Centre in Surrey, Willowbrook Mall in Langley, and Coquitlam Centre in Coquitlam.
1068 Davie Street
This casual eatery closed on October 21 in the Davie Village after its 25th anniversary.
Gyoza King and Chicco Japanese Dessert Café
1508 Robson Street
Vancouver's first izakaya, Gyoza King, opened in 1993, preceding a wave of izakayas such as Guu and Hapa Izakaya (which shut down its location at 1479 Robson Street one block away back in 2016). Although the eatery permanently closed its doors on October 30, it hopes to reopen in elsewhere in the city sometime in the future.
Its related neighbouring business, Chicco Japanese Dessert Café (1504 Robson Street) closed on November 19 after 17 years in business.
The site is slated for development.
1078 Cardero Street
This old-school convenience store operated in a house in a residential area in the West End for 75 years. It closed on November 1 as the landlord would not renew the lease.
1731 Comox Street
This 23 year-old gym inhabited a venue that housed sports and exercise clubs for approximately 40 years until its closure on November 14. It was located adjacent to the Coast Plaza Hotel, which is being converted into a rental tower. The hotel's Brasserie Restaurant (which opened in 1979) and Comox Street Long Bar and Grill (which is over 20 years old) also shut down.
2200 Yukon Street
This well-known Vancouver outdoor and travel gear store operated for 70 years until brothers Jerry and Keith Wolfman decided to close the business on November 1, after being approached by a developer. The growth in online and big-box competition, plus increasing property taxes, also factored into their decision.
24 hours Vancouver
When Postmedia and Torstar announced on November 27 that they were swapping ownership of over 40 newspapers in November, this commuter daily (which launched in 2005) was one of the casualties. The 24 hours Vancouver newsroom had already been shut down in 2016 after Postmedia bought it from Quebecor.
51 West Hastings Street
This comfort-food diner in Gastown opened in 2010 and closed on November 28 due to the business being sold.
This European import business, whose official name was European Specialty's Importer Ltd., shut down on December 19 after 60 years of importing German and European food items to Vancouver, particularly to the former Robsonstrasse district of European businesses.
After a 68-year run, Glacier Media announced that the final edition of the weekly Westender newspaper would be printed on December 21.
Nick's Spaghetti House
631 Commerical Drive
An East Van institution, this family-run Italian restaurant closed on December 21 after 62 years in business (and countless plates of spaghetti and meatballs). As owner Nick Felicella did not want to sell off the business and his descendants did not want to take it over, he decided to shut it down.
The Umbrella Shop
1106 West Broadway and 526 West Pender Street
After 82 years and three generations, the owner is closing this business down at the end of this month due to unexpected health issues.
Here's a list of some more closures:
- after 14 years in business, Rx Comics (2418 Main Street) closed in Mount Pleasant on January 28 but relaunched as 8th Dimension Comics.
- Gastown modern Chinese restaurant Bambudda (99 Powell Street) closed on February 19 after just over three years due to the building being renovated
- Milestones Yaletown (1109 Hamilton Street) closed in February
- StackHouse Burger Bar (1224 Granville Street) opened in 2011 but shut down on March 27
- Hub restaurant closed its West End location at 1037 Denman Street on May 8 and will reopen in North Vancouver at Lonsdale Avenue and 13th Street. On October 10, its Yaletown location (1165 Mainland Street) shut down after seven years but may reopen in a new location.
- Shanti's Curries (4191 Main Street) closed on June 21 after four years
- near Yaletown, Juno Japanese Sushi Bistro (572 Davie Street) ended operations after eight years on May 27 but its owner launched it as a second location of Ramenman
- Bulgarian café Acacia Fillo Bar (1103 Denman Street) opened in 2006 and closed on July 18
- one of two Bean Around the World (3598 Main Street) locations on Main Street permanently called it quits on July 30 after 16 years of serving coffee, as the site was sold to developers.
- Village restaurant (1143 Davie Street) closed in July after launching in 2015
- In August, Charlie's Little Italian (2610 Main Street) closed on August 6 after 12 years (it began as Habit Lounge before relaunching as Charlie's in 2013)
- just off Robson Street, Caliburger (830 Thurlow Street) shut down on December 9 after only opening in June 2016