Dining Out – 50 Years Ago

I’m indebted to my friend, Rod Clarke, one of the proprietors of The Paper Hound Bookshop, for pointing out the book on which this post is based. It is called Where to Eat in Canada: 1971 and is a guide to dining establishments in the nation that were judged by the editors (Anne Hardy and Sondra Gotlieb) to be worthy of note that year. 1971 doesn’t seem so awfully long ago to the likes of me and those of my generation (and earlier), but it was, surprisingly, half a century ago!

Included in this little guide are several listings for Vancouver, only one of which is still a restaurant (with a name that is almost the same, today). [1] In this post, I’ll pull out a few of the listings for further consideration.

Hy’s Encore, 637 Hornby

Hy’s Encore (today, Hy’s Steakhouse) is the only one of the Vancouver listings in Where to Eat which is still at its location of 50 years ago. The earliest mention of Encore in the local press was in 1962, so that is likely its first year in business. It was located across the street from The Cave nightclub (and, later, was adjacent to Sugar Daddy’s Discotheque).

According to Where to Eat,

The decor is the same the country over: the wall of books (glued in place), the paneling and the mirrors, all designed to give an air of conventional opulence.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p.153

The crimes against books appear to have been removed [2], thankfully, but I suspect that the cave-like entry to Encore looks much the same today as it did in ’71.

Today’s Hy’s seems to have retained its classic feel of a stereotypically dimly lit, darkly and heavily furnished men’s club. It’s a minor puzzle to me how Hy’s has been able to sustain itself at its Hornby location for nearly 60 years. Probably it’s a testament to quality steak and seafood prepared and served well.

Interior contemporary shot of Hy’s Vancouver. I suspect the brick archway was present when Where to Eat in Canada 1971 was written. There is no sign of any pasted books, however. Photo credit Scoutmagazine.ca

La Cote D’Azur, 1216 Robson Street

Crop of CVA 778-354 – 1200 Robson Street south side 1974.

This French restaurant (which is “french riviera” en Francais), went out of business in 1995 as it faced demolition that year for redevelopment of the property. [3]

Where to Eat enthused:

Inside the old converted house, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed and the service deft and welcoming. The prices are rather high but the food is superb . . . . The menu is in French, and owners, Maurice Richez and Alex Katz, maintain that every dish is a specialty of the house.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 151
Sun. 23 April 1976.

Iaci’s Casa Capri, 1020 Seymour Street

CVA 779-E06.35 – 1000 Seymour Street east side 1981. Iaci’s signage is visible at the northernmost house.

In the 1970s, this little Italian restaurant (according to one source, the first such in Vancouver) was located directly across the street from The Penthouse nightclub on Seymour (today the furnished apartment complex called “Level” stands in its place). It was open from 1939-1983.

This may well be the most unusual restaurant in Vancouver. In fact it isn’t even a restaurant in the ordinary sense. It’s the Iaci family home and has been for at least 25 years. The family are all still living in the old house, and meals are prepared individually in the family kitchen.The dining-room upstairs will hold 35 people and there’s a basement room for banquets. Mama Iaci’s kitchen is also in the basement, and there she personally supervises the preparation of food, as often as not doing things herself.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 154

This place has been written about at length, so I won’t say anything more, here.

Jade Palace, 252 East Pender Street

VPL 85874U People walking along Pender Street in Chinatown 1972 Curt Lang. The Jade Palace is on the far side of the street about mid-way down the block

Where to Eat begins its listing for the Jade Palace as follows:

The manager of this popular Chinese restaurant is a man with a sense of humour and a taste for large and varied menus. C. C. Sun is his name. He says the C. C. stands for Canadian Club and maybe it does.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 155.

The C. C., in fact, stood for Chia-Cheng, not Canadian Club. And, apparently, the Jade Palace became known as the first place in Vancouver that served the ever-popular dim sum.

Where to Eat isn’t a hugely humorous work, but there are occasional sentences that cause one to smile, as did this one in the Jade Palace write-up: “Crabmeat over Chinese greens is a good buy at 2.50, but one suspects the crab may have arrived fresh from the sea after a stop-over in the can” (Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 155).

Schnitzel House, 1060 Robson Street

CVA 306-25 – Schnitzel House Restaurant on Robson Street B. Silk, ca1970.

The Schnitzel House on Robson Street was an institution from 1960. It closed in 1985, moving with the new owner (briefly) to 830 W. Pender.

This is as warm and intimate as an Alpine inn. As the name implies, the specialty is schnitzels and they’re first rate. There are ten varieties on the menu, priced from 2.50 for the wiener to 3.20 for the cordon bleu, which is stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham.

Where to Eat in Canada, p. 160

By 1985, Robsonstrasse was beginning its transformation to Rodeo Drive North.

Concluding Remarks

If you’re interested in viewing all of the Vancouver listings in the guide, I’ve reproduced those in a pdf document, below.

To my surprise, Where to Eat, remains a going concern. The guide continues to be published; it was first published in 1967. The principal editor is today the same person who edited the 1971 edition: Anne Hardy.


  1. Okay, two, if you include the Sylvia Hotel.
  2. It is difficult to be certain based on the photo by Crystal Schick (Calgary Herald) at this link, but it appears that the Calgary version of Hy’s may still have the pasted books!
  3. Many thanks to Maurice Guibord for his assistance with figuring out when La Cote went out of business.
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8 Responses to Dining Out – 50 Years Ago

  1. Gordon Watson says:

    No matter where I’ve travelled, be it southwestern France, Los Angeles or darkest Manitoba, I’ve always considered restaurant guides to be essential accoutrements (even in the Internet Age– I’m much more inclined to take the advice of a knowledgeable food critic than that of a disgruntled Yelper). When I was a sales rep for a national publisher thirty-plus years ago, I had a sales territory covering much of western Canada. The annual edition of “Where To Eat in Canada” was something of a Godsend when looking for decent eating places in both large cities– eg. Edmonton– and just-passing-through small– eg. Princeton, BC; Kenora, Ont. And the older editions still come in handy when one wants to wallow in nostalgia.

  2. Endre E Nemeth says:

    Curious if your book has an entry for Primo’s Mexican Grill, an old favourite which operated for decades at 12th and Granville? They are still around albeit at a current location on Marine Drive in White Rock. Still family run, now in the hands of the third generation of Villanuevas (and same great food and service that us old timers remember). That said, I guess that would make three restaurants still operating from the 1971 guide (again assuming Primo’s is in the original guide).

  3. Endre E Nemeth says:

    Actually, is the Old Spaghetti Factory on Water Street in there? I think they opened in 1970, perhaps 1971, and I know they’re still at their original location at 53 Water Street.

  4. mdm says:

    No, neither Primo’s nor Old Spag Factory appears in Where to Eat. You can check it out for yourself by having a look at my PDF at the conclusion of the post. Thanks for commenting.

    • Endre E Nemeth says:

      Your PDF only shows pages 148 to 167 of your guide so I wasn’t sure if the previous and latter pages to those included more restaurants.
      That said, I just noticed the book is called ‘Where to Eat in Canada: 1971’ not ‘Where to Eat in the Lower Mainland’ so that would explain the limited (and in this case, the very limited) selection on Vancouver.

  5. Craig L. Stefan says:

    Hi folks; Do you people ever get together anywhere to just sit around and chat over a coffee or something? It would be so nice to meet with other like-minded people to re-live a bit of our past here in Vancouver and share a few stories while making some new friends. Any chance that might become a reality one day? I miss my old Vancouver and I am sure we could all even share a few tearful stories of “I remember when”. Just a thought. Any takers? Tnx! – craig stefan 604-298-0924 cls4554@shaw.ca

  6. Interesting, I’m researching a new book project right now (that’s a couple of years away from being realized) on Vancouver Restaurant History, and these are some good leads.

    I should add, it’s neat to see the old Iaci’s house at 1020 Seymour. I remember there was a recording studio in one of those houses in the 1990s, where rent parties were often held before most of that block got leveled.

    At 1044 Seymour, which I think is the house just at the end of that row I think, there was a fire there in the summer of 1977 that claimed one victim, but two VPD members who had been doing surveillance for thieves in the parking lot responded to the fire before the fire department go there, and managed to pull a few people out of the house. They received commendations for bravery. The whole story is told in my last book called Vancouver Vice.

  7. Ronald Appleton says:

    For Aaron, please do not miss including The On On Tea Garden and Puccini’s… plus our Kerrisdale favourite for over 50 years, still going strong, Minerva’s, consistently delicious, lovely staff and the same family of owners.

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