Too Much of a Coincidence?

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What remains of Slickety Jims

The fire that destroyed Zocalo Restaurant, Slickety Jims, Lugz Coffee and Kishu Island Sushi in November left a pile of charcoal on Main and Broadway and east side business owners with nothing.  It’s so sad to see the loss of great local businesses and the future of the spot is questionable.

Damn.  That is some devastation and when I heard about what happened, I couldn’t really believe til I walked by a few days later.  First thing I thought was how awful for the owners, second thought, developers are probably drooling and ready to fight each other to the location for building new condos, since this is such a hot spot right now.  A little bit of suspicion, but hey I thought, old building, restaurants, fluke perhaps?

Kingsway and Broadway Fire

Then on December 24, another fire ONE BLOCK away at Kingsway and Broadway that also leaves not much but a pile of rubble.  Lost are some more restaurants, artist studios, martial arts studio, health & nutrition store and a medical cannabis storefront.

Not much is left, all of it almost all gone.  What’s really sad to me is the New Maple Wonton House is owned by my aunt and uncle who bought it from what used to be my grandpa’s restaurant, Ho Tak Kee Wonton Noodle House.  I grew up in that restaurant, busing tables, helping my family and helping the waitresses get some more tips. I spent almost everyday there, after school and on the weekend.  When my grandfather and family immigrated to Vancouver in the 80’s, they brought over the family business. This was his whole life’s work and the restaurant became an establishment in Vancouver before many more Chinese restaurants opened up.  Many friends and families gathered here for delicious Cantonese home-style food, my favorite was always the roast duck and curry beef brisket, and also the BEST congee in town.  Don’t really know what my aunt and uncle will do now, but that was their whole life and it was a HUGE part of my childhood.

2 fires in the same neighborhood, less than 2 blocks away from each other, in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city? Too much of a coincidence? You might think this is too much of a conspiracy theory, but I totally think there’s some fishy business happening here. We’ll probably see in a couple of years new condo developers trying to sell small living units for hundreds of thousands of dollars or unaffordable monthly rentals – furthering the gentrification of this east side neighborhood that is full of culture and community into another hip developed (and EXPENSIVE) area to live.

I’ll always remember running around the place, chatting up customers and snacking all day long.  Fond memories of me and grandpa making wontons together and watching the butcher chop up Chinese BBQ, I can still smell it…

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5 Responses to “Too Much of a Coincidence?”

  1. werd Says:

    i’ve been talking about this.
    i don’t know my opinion on everything though.

    great post!

  2. Baback To The Future Says:

    Let’s keep it 100 here. Stealth arsonists burning down businesses in order to create buyable hot properties is a stretch. If you want a real theory:

    developper makes offer on property. The majority of surrounding businesses say no. One business is willing but without the support of the others, their willingness is rendered moot. Developper and open-to-selling businessman make a deal to pay owner for business in exchange for a little negligence leading to a kitchen fire. Result? No more Slickity Jim’s creamsicle milkshakes for me.

  3. Tray-Ho Says:

    Baback To The Future –

    That sounds definitely possible… when I say suspect, any number of things could have happened, like your theory for example. Other theories that I have heard are developers paying someone off to set off a fire to the buildings (a variation on your theory).

    Regardless of the many theories and possibilities of what happened, it is a real shame to see these local business go up in smoke (literally). And my point is that it’s really fishy that within 6 weeks, there were 2 big fires on the same block.

    Thinking about this and actually seeing the damage makes me really devastated that the place that I spent so much of my childhood is completely gone. Just really happy that my Grandpa has passed and not have to witness the destruction of his ENTIRE life’s work.

  4. Bizoid Says:

    In the hottest real estate market of the country, i wouldnt put anything past the shadyness. Remember the insurance scandal/bomb next to the broadway starbucks a couple years ago?

  5. justine Says:

    Great post, tray-ho. I went to high school at St Pat’s just a few blocks away and just found out about this now… Kishu was definitely a lunch favourite but damn, New Maple/Ho Tak Kee was the spot our senior year and I grew up on their congee to make my sickness “go away.” All the best to your aunt and uncle..

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