The Commercial Street Cafe opened in November 2012 in the heritage building Gow Block. Some people may remember when it used to be Ernie’s Grocery and more recently a store/café. When the space was up for sale, the four friends knew they wanted a great café in the neighbourhood and worked through the steps to make it a reality. While opening a café was not on their bucket list, according to Nadene, they were pleasantly surprised when their bid for the cafe went through and CCEC approved the business loan.
They renovated in nine days to create an open concept space that spans two rooms. They have Pete as head chef in the kitchen, Chris running the day-to-day as the general manager and Nadene busing tables in between her job as a graphic designer. Margot as coffee manager setup the coffee bar and is now on sabbatical back home in Nova Scotia. Tracy Thorn of the Cake Conspiracy, whose cake-decorating business needed more space, uses their kitchen in exchange for baking. It is a great partnership where the food and atmosphere is wonderful.
Commercial Street Café is truly a neighbourhood coffee shop. When I visited on a mid-week morning, there was a steady stream of moms and dads with young kids stopping in for a coffee and baked treat. The owners can walk to work and feel that as they are community based, they have more at stake in running a successful cafe. They haven’t done much advertising and are focused on the day to day operations. They are learning a lot and have plans to grow their business and neighbourhood connections in the years ahead.
“The credit union has been with me through all stages in my life, from my first home, to services related to my graphic design business and now, a commercial mortgage for the café. CCEC is more than a bank. It is about personal relationships where, for example, Shelly provided tips on using our ATM card in Mexico and Nikki sharing tips on visiting Disneyland.” Nadene
“CCEC cares about you. They know you and I’m not lost in the shuffle.” Chris
3599 Commercial Street at East 20th Avenue, Vancouver