November 09, 2009
What's Happening on 500 Block Robson Street?In the Photo: Sign in the window of the future Robson Street Japa Dog, and everything it promises is true.
A few months ago someone purchased the south side of 500 block Robson street and immediately set about jacking up the rents. It was a circumstance that forced out many long term tenants such as Robson Shoe Repair, a florist/key cutting shop, a hairdressing salon, the Cafe S'il Vous Plait, and one or two other small businesses. (If you can mentally GPS in terms of major grocery stores, it's the block north of Richards Street between the IGA and the H-Mart.)
Until now, most of these small store fronts have been sitting vacant with paper covering their windows, but it's interesting to see who is moving in now.
Beard Papa, the cream puff bakery chain from Japan, looks almost ready to open at 548 Robson. Right next door at 530, and no doubt to the excitement of its huge Vancouver fan base, it looks as though another Japanese inspired business, Japa Dog, is taking not one, but two adjoining locations.
The spot is still under renovation, but with Japa Dog's trademark gung ho enthusiasm for their product plastered over the street front, the moving in announcement is street art at its best. We had heard that Japa Dog was expanding to five new locations, however we thought that meant more one-man street carts. Obviously they are getting out of the rain and on to bigger things. Good for them. It seems only yesterday the owner and his wife were at their Burrard Street stand, working on their feet all day ... and with their baby riding shotgun in a Snugli slung from Mom or Dad's back.
And what is going to happen to the old Cafe S'il Vous Plait? Anyone know? The funky, art deco architecture of the building cries out for a modern, Shanghai-style, comfort food, Chinese bistro (can you hear us Andrew Wong?), or maybe a cute retro diner specializing in comfort food and classic cocktails.
Let's hope it's not coming down for yet another glass-walled Starbucks, or something of that ilk. We already have enough of those on Robson Street alone.