Last week, I wrote about a new restaurant coming to Commercial Street called Collective Goods. I didn’t have the, um, goods then. But since I live in the neighbourhood, I spotted it opening and did all the digging I could. It wasn’t hard to find out that the team launching it are the same folks behind the Mackenzie Room and Say Mercy—Andrew Jameson, Antonio Cayonne and chef Sean Reeve.
It’s on the stretch of Commercial Street that is bookended on either side by the Flourist and the Commercial Street Café, both incredible spots. The one problem is that there’s nowhere in the immediate vicinity to go for dinner or a drink past 5:30 p.m. Soon, that’ll no longer be the case.
“I always had an affinity for this strip—it feels like it’s this forgotten, really beautiful character street that nobody really knows about,” says Jameson, who notes that he used to live up the block. “Flourist changed that a bit when they came in, and Commercial Street Café has been here forever and they did such a beautiful job with the renovation. But I always had my eye on this place, because it was such an under-serviced neighbourhood, I feel like it’s a blackout zone.”
To that end, Collective Goods aims to serve bistro fare—“similar to the Mackenzie Room, but a little more casual,” says Jameson. “We’ll definitely have a burger on the menu.” The restaurant will seat some 40 customers whenever we return to “regular times” (that number includes a “chef’s table” of four people that can sit near Reeve as he walks them through their experience).
Jameson is also hoping to talk to the city about getting some patio space out front. “There’s a ton of walk-in traffic, but it’s not a really important road,” he says. “So I might make a pitch to the city. Because we have one right by Say Mercy, and people love that.”
Asked if essentially closing off the street adjacent to Say Mercy was tough to negotiate, and Jameson says no. “The city has been alarmingly easy to deal with,” he laughs. “They’ve relaxed a bit and kind of said, We’re going to let you have it until we don't, and that’s basically if someone in the neighbourhood complains to some degree. So for now, it’s been pretty good, and we get to have a bit of a relationship with people there, email them regularly. Some silver lining around all of this.”
The restaurant will also have a bottle shop run by general manager Shiva Reddy, formerly of Savio Volpe and Como Taperia (and currently of her Reddy to Help initiative that Jameson indicated as evidence that the pair have similar values). Patrons will be able to browse wine, to-go meals and a handful of dry products that they can grab and pay for and be on their way.
“It’s so revolutionary, because nobody has this in the city,” says Reddy. “I’ve been working in liquor retail for the past year, and it’s been so eye opening. It’s sometimes hard to bridge that gap between what’s fun and playful and what the people who live and go there want. So I think this will be really fun, given the neighbourhood. It won’t be a wine shop where you have South Africa here, and Argentina there, and you have to have France and B.C.”
Reddy has her eyes set on “fun themes that will be constantly changing,” something she borrowed from Main Street’s Burdock and Co. “They did one list where it was all orange wines, and you were like, what’s happening here,” she recalls. “We won’t necessarily do that, but it’ll be sort of ‘This is the style, here's what happening this month.’ Maybe people can't pay $50 a bottle at the table but they might pay $30 at the shop and take something home that's similar. It’s about getting people excited about wine, making it accessible and not pretentious.”
Jameson thinks Collective Goods will welcome customers in early July (hint hint: the Mackenzie Room opened its doors on July 7 six years ago), and that it’ll be open in the late morning until its licence ends at midnight.
“We always like trying something new, something different,” he says. “As far as I know, this isn’t really a structure that exists in the city. So it’s a fun opportunity to play around and explore. Not afraid of a little trial and error.”