Archive for the ‘C G Leonard’ Tag

716 West Hastings Street

The cafe in this 1931 Vancouver Public Library picture was (briefly) the Chocolate Shop Cafe #2. Leonard’s Cafe had been here for many years – we saw it, (but didn’t look at its history), in an earlier post. The 1920 insurance map shows a restaurant, and the 1924 street directory said it had been in business for over 30 years. Originally the cafe here, and one at 163 W Hastings were run by George (or Clayton) Leonard. He opened the Cafe that bore his name in 1902, but had previously run the Oyster Bay Restaurant on Carrall Street, from 1894. The 1871 census showed him aged 9 as C George Leonard, and the 1891 census showed him in St Stephen, New Brunswick, listed as Clayton Leonard, married to Nellie. In 1903 G Clayton Leonard hired Parr and Fee to build a $3,500 house at Bute and Barclay. In 1905 Clayton G Leonard visited Honolulu – so he switched between using his first and middle names fairly frequently, and sometimes the order was switched as well.

The cafe here was apparently developed by Mr. Leonard in 1906, and reported by the Daily World. “Its opening marks a new era locally in the business in which Mr. Leonard is engaged, and a visit to the place is well worth one’s while simply for the purposes of inspection.”  “He engaged the design services of Mr. James Bloomfield who decorated the restaurant as well as designed the furniture.  Entering the nearly one hundred foot dining room from the street, diners stepped across a tiled entry in which a mosaic of the famous Leonard badge of the head of a setter bearing a bird was inlaid.  The design was repeated on some of the light fixtures.  The dining room was decorated in a west coast theme featuring scenes of First Nations peoples in four large murals entitled The First SockeyeThe Clam GatherersThe Homecoming, and The Lone Paddler.  Four large folding screens were decorated with scenes of birds and morning themes featuring paintings of English Bay, the Prospect Point lighthouse and other local scenes and landmarks.”

One feature was unique to the establishment: ” A grand staircase at the back of the dining room lead up to a rooftop garden which would be open seasonally for dining and, at the time of its construction, afforded views of Burrard Inlet”. There’s more about Mr. Leonard and his restaurants (and their china) on the Neumann Collection blog. The 1911 census shows he was born in New Brunswick, and his wife Nellie was American. They were divorced later that year, and he married Jeanette Rice in March 1912 in San Francisco.  He sold his business in 1915, although the name lived on after his death (In 1916, at his new home in Los Angeles). He’d accurately said he was 50 when he married, but his death certificate also said he was 50 (which was inaccurate – he was 54).

In 1924 there were repairs and alterations to the building that cost Edwardes and Names $2,600, which seems likely to be when the new facade appeared. We suspect they weren’t the owners of the building, but rather the agents who looked after its leasing and repair. Dixon and Madill owned the Leonard Café operation after Mr. Leonard sold it, and in the mid 1920s it was sold to the Michas family who ran it for nearly twenty years, until 1944. They moved their restaurant operation to 831 Granville Street in 1929, and this briefly became the offices of an oil and mining stockbroker. Leonard’s business on Granville was sold to the Menzies family of Chilliwack in 1944. The business moved again in the late 1940s to 720 West Pender and the café burned down in 1961, taking the Arctic Club, located on the second floor, with it.

The image above, and on the right, were taken in 1931, when it reopened as The Chocolate Shop Cafe, run by Nicholas and Dennis Sagris. (Chocolate Shop #1 was at 160 W Hastings). The Chocolate Shop was a short-lived operation; in 1934 this was the Melrose Cafe, managed by Tom Latsoudes. He’d been running his cafe 2 doors to the west at 724, and stayed here for many years. In 1936 he acquired the second floor, and could cater weddings and club parties in the new Golden Room. The staff increased from 45 to 60. Wally Thomsett reminisced in the Vancouver Sun how “our family of five would go for dinner to the Melrose Cafe, just west of Granville on the south side of Hastings. Dad would order five full-course meals for 25 cents each. Even in those days, it was hard to believe, but true!” The Museum of Vancouver have one of the menus, and it shows prices had risen by the 1950s (although you could still go wild and have Eastern Oysters for 35c).

Today this is part of the United Kingdom Building which has been here for over 60 years. Built in two phases in 1957 and 1960 it was designed by Douglas Simpson just after the breakup of his practice with Hal Semmens.


Posted 21 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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