737 West Pender Street

These modest single storey buildings were built in the 1920s, and seen here in 1931. The left hand building was developed in 1924 by Stamatis & Evans, (Tom, and George), who hired W T Whiteway to design the $20,000 restaurant.

Constantine Stamatis was the oldest member of a family of restauranteurs in the city. He was born in Greece in 1879, and it looks like he was initially in the US; we think he married Helen Dupont in Seattle in 1910 (where he was recorded as Stanatis). He first appeared in the street directory in 1912 as the first family member to arrive in Vancouver, running the People’s Waffle House on Powell Street, and living on Keefer Street. A year later his home got more crowded when Harry and Tom Stamatis moved in. Harry was a waiter and Tom was shown as the proprietor of both the Waffle House and the Fountain Cafe on W Cordova. (There was some shuffling of responsibilities; in 1914 J R Smith owned the Fountain Cafe and C Stamatis was shown as a waiter there. The People’s Waffle House that year was owned by both Thomas and G Stamatis – Constantine was more often known as Gus, or sometimes Gust).

Thomas Stamatis was born in 1885, according to a 1914 border crossing at Blaine. The third brother, (Aristotle) Harry Stamatis was born in 1895 in Thebes, according to his 1923 death certificate. In 1916 Tom Stamatis was the only family member still listed in the city, and he ran the National Oyster House at 727 W Pender, (a few doors to the east of here) which a year later became the National Oyster and Chop House. By 1920 it was renamed the National Cafe, and George Evans had joined him in running the business. Tom had married Victoria Kyrias in 1918, when his birth name of Anastasios Stamatis was recorded. Victoria was 24, and originally from Macedonia.

‘Gust’ Stamatis reappeared in the directory briefly in 1919 (so he may have been fighting in the war). He ran the King’s Cafe on Carrall Street, and when Harry reappeared he was a waiter at the Palace Cafe. As Constantine Stamates he was apparently the only family member in the city in the 1921 census, living alone on Parker Street and running a restaurant. George Evans was shown running the National Cafe at 727 W Pender, and Thomas was running the Trocadero Cafe on West Hastings, but in 1922 Thomas was shown running both the National and the Trocadero.

Their new cafe here was described as “First-class lunch counter and restaurant, for Mr. T. Stamatis of the Trocadero & National Cafes; one-storey & bsmt., lower floor substantial enough to carry another story if owners choose in future; brick & tile construction”. It opened in 1924 with a full page story in the Vancouver Sun. There was a bakery upstairs, and coolers in the basement.  “There is a machine for paring potatoes, a machine for slicing potatoes for preparation as “French fried,” a machine for slicing bread, a machine for mashing potatoes, a machine for peeling and coring apples, a machine for washing dishes in fact one for almost every task where human judgment and skill are not needed to do a better Job than a machine could do.” The whole project was reported to cost $85,000

The only reference to George Evans was in the permit to build this, and the opening news piece. He lived on West Pender, and later on Burrard, but seems to have been missed by the 1921 census. He continued to partner in ownership of the restaurant here, and on West Hastings, with Tom Stamatis until at least 1939. He appears to have been Greek – we assume Evans was an anglicized version of his name. He was active in the Hellenic Society, and he often attended events with his wife and Tom Stamatis and his spouse.

By 1932 there was a Trocadero on Granville, and another on West Hastings. As well as this National Lunch, there was a short-lived National Lunch #2, two blocks from the Trocadero, on Granville. The Granville Trocadero and National Lunch #2 had both closed by 1935. In 1933 there was a fire on the roof of the restaurant, but it doesn’t appear that the damage was sufficient to close the business.

In 1935 Gus Stamatis developed a close relationship with Nobutaro Okazaki who farmed a homestead owned by Gus, four miles south of the New Westminster Bridge in Surrey. The restaurants got their supplies from the farm – one of the earliest examples of ‘farm to table’. All that ended when the Okazaki’s were forced into a camp in the interior in 1942, and in 1947 Trocadero Farm was sold to Surrey Council as the home of the future Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Constantine (Gus) Stamatis died in 1941, aged 62, survived by his brother Thomas, and three sisters, in Greece. Tom took over as manager of the National Lunch, and president of the Trocadero, and that year Mrs. Thomas Stamatis hired C B K Van Norman to design a new home for them. In 1953 Thomas and his wife Victoria applied to change their name to Stamatis Standish. George Stamatis (their son) and his wife Eunice had changed their name to Standish in 1945, and so did their son Christopher. Thomas died in 1957, in Surrey, and Victoria four years later, in Vancouver.

Next door was a building owned by W E O’Brien. He carried out repairs in 1924 but in 1927 rebuilt the premises on a double lot at a cost of $14,492 with Townley & Matheson designing the building. When they were completed there were three storefronts; Campbell Brothers (shoe repairers) at 731, the Soo Barber Shop run by A Cowell at 733 and the Soo Cigar Stand with F Edwards at 735. By 1931, when this photo was taken, 735 was part of the National Lunch, with the shoe repairer, Andy’s Barber Shop and the St Dunstan’s Cigar Stand all operating in the same unit.

The developer, William E O’Brien had for many years been a ‘Dance Master’. The British Columbia Land and Investment Agency Building on West Hastings was known more often as The O’Brien Hall. William and his wife Gertrude were from Ontario. By 1930 the O’Brien’s were no longer shown in the street directory, but they were living in Vancouver again in 1935, in retirement. Gertrude died in Vancouver in 1951, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, and  William in 1957, when he was buried with her.

The building to the left of these buildings had been built in 1929, designed by Winnipeg srchitects Northwood and Chivers, and named the Hall Building. In 1970 the Montreal Trust Building replaced the National Cafe and was attached to the earlier building, set back from the facade, in a style to match, designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners. Sprott Shaw College occupy space in the building, with a contemporary furniture store on the main floor.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3985 fire CVA 99-2803




Posted 22 August 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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