Canada News By Country

Vintage Vancouver cafe named among top 50 in the world

A downtown eastside diner in Vancouver was named in the British press as one of top 50 cafes in the world due its old fashion feel.

The Telegraph newspaper of London lauded the Ovaltine Cafe at 251East Hastings as remarkable for its vintage furnishings . 

Established in 1942, and named after the old fashioned “Ovaltine” milk drink, the diner greets its customers with a retro pink sign on the outside, and vintage wooden booths and red vinyl stools on the inside. Even the milkshakes are made with a retro blender.

Owner Grace Chen is drinking up her cafe’s newfound fame, and says the secret to her diner’s longevity is warm customer service.

“I want to thank my customers [who] really support me. That’s why we can stay here longer, because it’s not easy,” said Chen on Sunday with a smile.

The newspaper review stated:

“From the Edwardian building to the projecting pink neon signage to the unreconstructed décor – not to mention that anti-cool name – you’ve got to love this 1942 diner-cum-coffee shop.

“Climb on to one of the red vinyl stools drilled into the floor by the long Formica bar or bag a high-walled wooden booth to enjoy a plate of omelette, pork chops or fried chicken with your filter coffee or Ovaltine shake – prepared on a vintage machine.”

“Regularly used as a film location, when it’s dark outside this place takes on a distinctly noirish Edward Hopper quality.”

The Ovaltine Cafe was one of only two cafes from Canada on the global list.  It was previously owned by Bill and Violet Wong. Their son Randall Wong became the first Chinese-Canadian judge appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court.

With files with CTV’s Jason Pires


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