“Senator Grill” to White Spot’s “Garden Spot”

CVA 586-6971 – Senator Grill exterior at Cambie and 25th. Don Coltman photo. May 1948.

The Senator Grill was built in 1947 and opened in the summer of that year. The owners were Joseph W. Brault and John L. Cameron. Brault, a veteran restaurateur, had run an establishment just a few blocks away from where the Senator was (probably B & L Fountain Lunch). Cameron was new to the restaurant game.

1948 ad.

Brault and Cameron appeared to spare little expense on the Senator: architects of the “ultra-modern” building were Watson and Semmons. The furniture was of a “very high quality construction, specially designed to suit the luxury-type interior. In all, the building reportedly cost $55,000 in 1947 dollars (Province, 29 July 1947).

The Senator offered dining room and drive-in/take-away service, with a menu that focused on chicken and steak dinners. Yup, that sounds much like the service on offer by Nat Bailey’s White Spot in the 1940s and ’50s. Small wonder that Nat Bailey wanted to gobble up the Senator before it could become a major competitor.

1951 ad.

I suspect that the Senator didn’t come cheap. I couldn’t find any public references to the purchase by White Spot of the Senator or the numbers involved. But judging by what Brault and Cameron paid for the construction and outfitting the place and the apparent fact that buying the Senator was in Bailey’s interest, it seems probable that he had to pony up significant cash.

White Spot retained the Senator brand with their own for about 3 years. Then, in late 1951, they renovated the place to suit a new brand. The White Spot at Cambie and 25th would become the White Spot Garden Spot. (Jack and Joy Cullen can be seen here at KVOS Bellingham with his “Owl Prowl Theatre,” shilling for the Garden Spot. – in addition to Campbell Motors at 1234 Kingsway and ChanelMaster TV antennas).

A strike at White Spot in 1988, under then-owner Peter Toigo, led him to close two of the Spot’s locations: the one at Georgia and Cardero (in the West End) and the Garden Spot (Sun, 25 Oct 1988). Today, on the site of the Senator/Garden Spot is an office building.

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2 Responses to “Senator Grill” to White Spot’s “Garden Spot”

  1. Endre E Nemeth says:

    Thanks kindly for this walk down memory lane. I grew up a few blocks away in the Douglas Park neighbourhood and this White Spot was the family go-to dining out place when Mom didn’t feel like cooking. The eat-in-car service was a favourite (I’d LOVE to have an original WS car tray!) and it was here as a kid that I first discovered the wonder that is triple-O sauce. Great memories. One minor point: the location was on the northeast corner of King Edward and Cambie which today houses an office building with a bank at street level . . . not a residential condominium.

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