Everyone loves a good diner experience. And luckily for all of us Vancouverites, the team behind Fable Diner has brought us a diner experience that not only looks and feels great, but is one you’ll want to come back to time and time again because the food is so darn good!
Chef Trevor Bird is a talented Top Chef personality who is known for his work defining Canadian cuisine through his farm to table restaurant, Fable. We were honoured when we had the opportunity to meet with him and his front-of-house operations partner, Ron MacGillivray, to discuss their exciting new diner concept in the heart of one of Vancouver’s most historic buildings in Mount Pleasant.
At the corner of Main Street and Broadway, the iconic Lee Building was built in 1912 and had housed a diner since the 1940’s. Trevor, Ron, and their team wanted to maintain the heritage soul of the space while incorporating their core farm to table values. The result? “A modern day diner serving food made with integrity and skill served in a clean and welcoming space by good people.”
Working with our partners at Evoke International Design, the goal was to bring a luxury diner space to a very old, historic building. We did this by marrying the old elements in the building with the new fixtures we were bringing in. The luxury diner design called for gorgeous finishes – brass details, white oak panelling and millwork throughout the 86 seat restaurant, and custom lighting to keep the space warm and bright. We couldn’t blow the bank though, and had to get creative with saving costs where we could. This included using a lot of brass laminate and powder coating instead of solid brass, and painting out white the old brick pillars in the space (which also helped maintain that heritage feel).
The old building presented many challenges as we took the design to a structurally sound build. For one, the location. Located on one of the busiest corners in the city, we had high traffic, a bus stop right out front, and small alleyways to get in and out of the space. The previous diner fans were also OLD and could not be repurposed for the new restaurant. The challenge? They were located on the building’s rooftop and the only way to get them off was by a crane. So we did. We brought a crane in to that tight alley and lifted the old fan off at 6am, dropping a new one on the roof top later that day. That was a PSC first! We also had to do a full power shut down in the middle of the night in a 60 unit residential building, as the old building definitely needed a hydro, water, and gas upgrade to make sure the new diner could run as a modern day diner should.
It was all worth it. The result is a fast-service diner where the focus of the space is on the massive kitchen. Guests will also take notice of the slatted oak drop ceiling. A monster feature, it not only took hours of planning to make sure it would go up safely and securely, it also took a team of 7 of us to mount it when it came to installation. Check it out!
In addition to the aesthetic results, we’re also proud of the fact that the restaurant construction ran efficiently, came in on budget, and achieved what the client was after. We faced some new challenges to get there, but learning with every project is part of the job (and the fun!). And now we get to sit back and enjoy. Our clients more often than not become our friends, and visiting our past spaces is part of why we love doing what we do. And the West Coast Toast and Trucker’s Breakfast sure do keep us comin’ back for more.
Photos: Martin Knowles Photo/Media