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Openings and closings (2004–2005)


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Jamie; I worked at the Armoury restaurant with Jack fuller and Chef Henry Bachman, a great kitchen and front of house staff,  many years later many front of house staff work for Earls.

The front of house staff at the armoury all were very good, it was one of the best crews I have worked with.

steve

LOL...then you may have thrown me out on a couple of occasions Steve...remember those big overstuffed chairs downstairs in the lounge...made one feel like you were in that Tom Hank's flic with everything so big...

Henry Bachman...now there is a name from the past...

Jack Fuller? Did he go to Calgary [bankers' Hall]or is he the Fuller brother with the Red Deer Earl's.

Funny, I was just speaking with Brian Plunkett from Calgary last week about Noble having left Catch [never impressed with the fine dining room, poor service, overpriced, less than inspiring fish whether it was purportedly day boat catch or line caught, etc.] but did enjoy some meals in the oyster bar downstairs and the staff spoke highly of "chef" and his training] and wondering where he would end up...Earl's...that is interesting....excuse this Albertan's ignorance...hey, we do it for "King Ralph" virtually daily...but what is Paramount Place?

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Thankyou Jamie for the news.

My vote goes to George Tidball

I think I have an even more curious inkling to check out Earls, I was wondering where Michael Noble was??

What is the latest on this, is there a press release???

steve

With pleasure, Steve. Obviously there were lots of interesting discussions going on over the Christmas holidays, and like a kid staring at the Christmas tree, I've been sitting on a few of these announcements since then.

Quite a message to the industry in Michael Noble's appointment. And certainly an interesting sidebar to the convergence of value in "brand extension" casual dining rooms (Feenie's on Broadway and soon in Burnaby, Harry Kamboli's new digs, Enoteca, the Small Plates phenomenon et al) versus established CFD chains like Earls that have been hiring well-regarded 'names' such as David Scholefield and Anthony Gismondi to deepen value and taste on their wine lists. It's also interesting to note that Earl's purchasing VP George Piper instituted an organic greens program long before many FD rooms.

Although I know there's some snobbery out there about CFD or so-called 'three-ring binder' chains, recent road trips through the States and UK continue to corroborate what I've long suspected--that several of the CFD chains that were birthed here in Western Canada (Earls, Cactus Club, The Keg, Joey's Global Grill, Milestone's) do a quite remarkable job at a very tough price point--at a $20 to $25 average dinner check.

The new rooms (wait till you see Paramount Place; the new Park Royal Cactus Club is a sleek beauty) are gorgeous. The service training is legendary--I hosted a couple of teams from the UK in the past year who came explicitly to see how it's done.

So I got to thinking, how come they're noticeably (often, remarkably) better than what's available in Eastern Canada, the States and the U.K.? I reckon that in a smaller sized city such as Penticton, say, the local Earls may be the dependable, default choice for a casual meal.

But it strikes me that the real determinate is in a larger city such as Vancouver, where the competition for customers at this price point is especially fierce given the virtually unlimited value choices, especially in Asian cuisines. In short, they simply have to be consistently excellent, with nary a microwave and a very limited dependence on the deep fryer. Add in intrepid sourcing and highly integrated distribution (economy of scale) of raw product. Add back the service. Add in an expert real estate team. And add in that one ineffable element--a sense of humour and, dare I say, even fun, and you get the point.

That might be one reason that The Keg is doing so well in Dallas, beating them at what we might have assumed was their own game.

I suspect we'll see a press release in a week or two, and that Michael will visit us here in person once he's settled in after his trip to France. We probably shouldn't forget that he follows some other highly skilled development chefs: Chris Mills (who is now at Earls siblings Joey's Global Grill and OPM), Alain Leger (ex-Metropolitan Hotel, now executive chef at the Brentwood Bay Resort--both of whom trained under Noble). And Cactus Club has one of the most skookum development kitchens in the country at Broadway and Ash--you may have seen their development team featured, with president Richard Jaffray, on a recent 'Chef at Large' on FNC. Turns out it's a very tough process to develop a chain-wide recipe.

It also intrigues me that the food media, who intrepidly chase the next new FD room or perhaps more esoteric Asian or storefront neighbourhood find, virtually ignore this category (with the exception of Tim Pawsey of The Courier, who regularly weighs in on CFD), even though many Canadians, especially at this end of the country, surely don't. But don't ask me. We had occasion to canvass a number of name chefs a while back as to where they eat on their nights off. While many preferred Japanese with their spouse, if the family was involved, you probably already know the answer.

Cheers,

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Jamie; I worked at the Armoury restaurant with Jack fuller and Chef Henry Bachman, a great kitchen and front of house staff,  many years later many front of house staff work for Earls.

The front of house staff at the armoury all were very good, it was one of the best crews I have worked with.

steve

Earl's...that is interesting....excuse this Albertan's ignorance...hey, we do it for "King Ralph" virtually daily...but what is Paramount Place?

Paramount Place is a major mixed-use 24-storey eatertainment complex (with a sturdy residential tower above) and defined by Hornby, Burrard and Smithe streets. In addition to the cineplex (which will offset the loss of the soon-to-disappear Capital Six complex on Granville Mall), there will be a number of new restaurants, including a state-of-the-art new build Earls. It's pretty.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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about earls food consultants

Léger has also been a product development chef/project co-ordinator at Earls 52-unit restaurant chain in Vancouver and opened their new chain concept “The Publik” in Edmonton, where he was responsible for menu and recipe development, research and food product tasting and kitchen design.

Yes; this shows how small our world is, they worked together, so there is that contact. These days a chef might want to have a family and a life so choices a chef might do could be a little different then the past, might choose something because of lifestyle and family life, being a hotshot chef can hamper a social life and definately crumbles most home lifes.

Myself I see many big name chefs changing lanes, many of them have done there time in vancouver, leaving for a better life and more money, it is hard to buy a house in van on a chefs wage.

steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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I have lived in a number of cities in the US and Asia and you simply do not see the same kind of domination of that earl's-keg-cactus club that you see in Vancouver. There are larger chain places such as Chili's and Cheesecake Factory but the quality and service at earl's et al is much much better.

As with anything - I think competition breeds excellence. The cost structure and economics in Vancouver are tougher than anywhere else. Though absolute rent etc... in other cities may be higher - the margins between what people take home and what people make are razor thin here. You have to be very very good to get people to part with their money in Vancouver.

Also - these CFD restaurants reflects a combination of a high awareness of food but a general lack of food snobbery (look at the postings in the Vancouver forum vs. other cities) in Vancouver. But for most people really interested in food - the FD are always pushing the envelope and bringing increasing sophistication into the Vancouver dining scene - but the CFD are very quick incorporate trends that work into their menus (White Spot has Butter Chicken!).

It was very interesting to see on Food Network Chef Michael Smith pitch new ideas to the Cactus Club and seeing the thought process of what gets on the menu.

I really tip my hat to anyone who opens a restaurant in Vancouver - particulary those who compete in the CFD price range even though their quality may be better (HSG). That is why I think most people (myself included) hold back on really slamming a bad place - they die a quick death on their own.

I have heard that there may be some consolidation between some of CFD companies in Vancouver not sure if there is any truth to this - but with the hyper competition and the tough real estate game - I would'nt be surprised.

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  • 1 month later...

well dosa hut (hastings and clark) seems to unfortuanately have bitten the dust, although i'm not sure how it survived the month and some closing time a few months back(when i originally thought it was gone) shame as south indian in general and dosa places specifically are few and far between here, and also the brass monkey on denman is also history , a little too wannabe hip for my tastes anyway and as i was walking down denman the other day i noticed the soon to be opened newest place in pooch eats the doggie-style deli( yup, not kidding) and it gets worse the sell t-shirts lauding their eats with the caption the dsd" why dogs like to like their bowls", sorry folks just thought fair warning was in order here for your next venture down denman way

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Leaving aside the all the obvious jokes - the opening of a food store devoted to dogs in the West End doesn't surprise me at all.

There's lots of pampered pooches in Vancouver and already a number of dog bakeries or deli's, not to mention the success of Modern Dog magazine - the lifestyle magazine for urban dogs and their companions. Then there's the dog spas and summer camps.

Cheers,

Anne

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  • 2 weeks later...

The occasionally oblivious one here, asking how Sami's (Sami Lalji's place) on West Broadway and Oak has been closed. Anyone know when and why?

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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The occasionally oblivious one here, asking how Sami's (Sami Lalji's place) on West Broadway and Oak has been closed.  Anyone know when and why?

Say it isn't so! NOOOOOOOOOOO! Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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:sad:

It is so. I drove past today on a birthday-gift buying expedition and noted that there was a pink and white sign plastered over the front door that read something like "Coming in April" or words to that effect.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Since the thread is titled "Openings and closings", I thought I'd add an opening I noticed this weekend...

The Kathmandu Cafe at Grandview and Commercial. It seems they intend to open in April.

The sign in the window (and the very basic web site) speaks of Nepali and Tibetan food. Sounds interesting....

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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hmm nepali and tibetan sounds cool although from what i remember of food in nepal it was a hell of alot of dhal bhat( nepali version of thali) and momos which are like tibetan dumplings .the tibetan sounds great as i never did get a chance to get to that place upstairs on the 600 block w. broadway before it closed

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I ate at Sami's a couple of months ago and it had the feel of a soon to be closed place. The ladies working there were less then inspired. the food was okay though, but the room was cold and the waiteress seemed to disappear into the kitchen for long periods. I actually had to look for her to get my bill.

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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Royal India on Water Street has closed down... going to miss the butter chicken. It's re-opening as an Italian restaurant! I doubt it will survive much past summer based on the previous restaurants at this location.

Stephen

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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Moderne Burger and Dan is temporarily closed due to fire damages. Anyone know when they will re-open? I miss those juicy burgers, crispy fries and cherry coke at Moderne, and I miss their cubed steak and delicate Kyoto style specials the chef makes at Dan!

ahh where's the button for the fries?

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ok one more to mention but kinda significant i'd say major chutney ( cambie & 18 th ish) significant as i believe the only fijian-indian resto in van, and i also noticed that the old fox and firkin on davie is now sold, very much anticipating what will end up there as what are the odds of a pub and a mc donald's going out of business in a prime hood like that let alone in the same location, jinxed location ?

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And just think- Checkers across the street is packed every night- it must be the meat bingo.

I don't think the neighborhood lends itself to a corporate ethos. Maybe that is the problem?

Ann

Edited by annanstee (log)

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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pepita's was mentioned in the entertainment book thread, so i thought that if it was referring to the denman location( maybe the only one?)i thought i'd post the news here , sorry to say it too is gone and been replaced by pacific crab co.

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