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Was the Vera’s on West Broadway the weak link in the chain?

July 21, 2017

The Vera’s at 1455 West Broadway—gone and forgotten?

After toughing it out for maybe eight years, the Vera’s Burger Shack at 1455 West Broadway Avenue finally succumbed to the reality of not enough customers to cover the increasing cost of the location and closed its doors there for good, about a month and a half ago.

In a Direct Message on Twitter, a Vera’s spokesperson told me that landlord of 1455 West Broadway wanted to increase the already high rent another 30-plus percent.

Like Different Bikes, formerly at 1421 and the suntan parlour and rug store that were both forced to vacate 1495 at the end of August 2016, by a large increase in their lease, now Vera’s looks to be another business that has effectively been priced out of the 1400 block of West Broadway.

This is not to say that the rent was the only reason that Vera’s didn’t succeed at this location but the large increase was certainly the final straw.

Too much of a good thing or not enough?

The Vera awning coming down on August 9th.

The 1400 block West Broadway Vera’s opened for business sometime between 2009 and 2011 and was part of a B.C.-based chain. According to the Vera’s website, the company opened its first location in West Vancouver, back in 1977 and has since expanded to 17 locations in Metro Vancouver and one outpost in the nation’s capital (Ottawa, Ontario).

Over the years,  I only ate at this restaurant a handful of times and just twice to have the “famous” burgers, which I recall as being fresh, substantial and filling but also sloppily hard to eat and not worth the expense.

Over-stacked, hand-crafted, mouth-monster burgers are wasted on me (my measure of a good hamburger being the memory of my first-ever Teen Burger).

I appreciated the Vera’s in the 1400 block far more for it milkshakes made with hard ice cream than anything else on its menu.

Although I like to patronize the businesses in the neighbourhood that supports me in so many ways, this Vera’s was just too rich for my taste and my homeless person’s budget. And to be honest, I felt that it was a little too expensive for the area—especially as it was selling hamburgers.

The Fairview neigbourhood is certainly well-to-do but that is not the same as being wealthy and residents here have many calls on their income—they want value when they spend it.

And such serious wealth as may come from the nearby rich enclave of Shaughnessy and elsewhere to shop along South Granville does not spill over, so much, onto the 1400 block of West Broadway—or into burger shacks, I don’t suppose.

I would say that the majority of successful restaurants around the former location of Vera’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway (with a few glittering exceptions) cater to working stiffs who are on their coffee or lunch break, or otherwise looking to get reasonably and decently fed rather than make an expensive culinary statement.

So the added fact that there was always a good selection of flavourful, meaty food to be had for less money a door away, east or west, could not have helped this Vera’s attract a steady general clientele.

A location that customers frequently had a beef with

The interior of the West Broadway Vera’s certainly looks clean now, especially without the gas range and deep fryers!

For some periods of time between August of 2016 and May of 2017, the Vera’s Burger Shack restaurant at 1455 West Broadway was listed for sale by RE/MAX Crest Realty (Westside) for $118,900—which works out to $66 for each square metre of the location’s 1,800 SQM floorspace.

A Yelp review thread for customers of this location, spanning about five years, indicates that there were at least two changes of management—in February of 2014 and again in October of 2016—accompanied by some earnest promises of improvements to the location’s standards.

More than anything though, the Yelp thread documents a growing disappointment, year-by-year, among customers and self-confessed gourmet burger buffs, with this location’s hamburgers, its prices, the level of service and even its cleanliness!

The closure of the Vera’s Burger Shack in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue—unattended by online tributes of a diehard (if dwindling) clientele—seemed to be a clear case of a neighbourhood restaurant wearing out its welcome in the neighbourhood.

But in addition to falling out of favour with customers the management of this Vera’s was clearly pushed by the landlord’s rent increase.

For its part, the head office of Vera’s Burger Shack tells me that although it wasn’t able to arrive at a reasonable renewal rate with the landlord of 1455 West Broadway, it is actively looking at other locations nearby. Click the images to enlarge them.

The awning of the next tenant—a Vietnamese restaurant—going up August 10th.

9 Comments
  1. Gosh, so much turnaround of food chain in this block of Granville. Never did eat at Vera even though I work, just can’t imagine eating all that meat.

    • Burgers that are stacked half the height of my head are too much! So much meat at one time makes me want to take a nap (I guess because my digestive system needs all my energy).

      Meanwhile the half-pulled pork sandwich at the next door Memphis Blues Barbeque House is tasty, filling and quite reasonably priced

      A homeless friend tells me that the Breakfast Table, four doors west — though pricey, serves fabulous breakfasts. I worry also that the BT is too rich for the immediate clientele. I’ll have to save up and try them, while they’re still in the 1400 block.

      • MB is a alright and the price is right. BT is over price for what it serves. So far the best eater is Salade de Fruite French restaurant on 7th across Seymour Clinic. They serve the best Steak with ginger sauce comes with salad and fries.

  2. Nakota permalink

    Yes, to teen burgers. No hormones, antibodies (they say). . .

    • So A&W says and I hope they are not fibbing. I had my most recent Teen Burger a month a ago. The side-view presentation in the foil/paper wrapper was mouth-watering. It was very good! Everything that I personally want on a burger.

    • Martin Dunphy permalink

      That’s just so you don’t ask about antibiotics, arguably the most problematic of all.

      • That’s true isn’t it? Use of antibiotics in factory-farmed animals (and thence in us and the environment) are leading to drug resistance, among other things.

  3. something else to factor in. I believe the City owns that property along with DeSerres. I am betting a Memphis Blues Thursday Special that there is a very quick demo clause in those leases to make way for a transit station.

    • I agree with you about demo clauses everywhere in the 1400 block but, as I wrote last year, in one of my Broadway tunnel posts, according to the city’s Vanmap online database the two buildings that city owns on the north side of the block are side-by-side: 1441 (IREMIT) and 1431 West Broadway Avenue (DeSerres).

      Unfortunately, I do not have the necessary funds to pay the search and retrieval fees to find out who own the rest of the buildings in the 1400 block.

      I do know that the city has announced that it wants the Broadway Skytrain tunnel to begin construction in 2019 and… coincidentally, the lease for the McDonald’s at 1482 expires in 2019 (with the owner thinking of moving to the north side of the block where the Skytrain station is expected to be). The lease of the Joey, a few doors east, expires in 2019. And both the Joey building and the one next door to it have already been sold. And the Denny’s, two blocks east, which has also already been sold — its lease also expires in 2019, as far as I know.

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