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Downtown Vancouver restaurant space went from brewery to coffee shop

The new venture - also tied to local craft beer - serves a daytime food menu created by a well-known local restaurant
North Vancouver's North Point has left the Bentall Centre in downtown Vancouver, and a new coffee shop called Funk. Coffee Bar has opened already in its place.

After just one year in business, a North Shore craft brewery's satellite location in a downtown Vancouver office tower closed up shop, making way for a new occupant and concept.

North Point Brewing launched at the Bentall Centre (1025 Dunsmuir St) in the summer of 2022, expanding its brew-based portfolio to offer a spacious, modern, all-day cafe space complete with beer, pastries, and pizza. 

At the time, North Point co-owner Liam Jeffries told V.I.A. during a visit to the new location that the team had jumped at the chance to set up operations in the Bentall space and to grow their brand with a slight variation on their North Van tasting room concept.

For the massive Bentall space, North Point had its brews, coffee, and a food menu initially focused on pizzas. 

However, by late spring 2023, North Point had paired up with Vancouver's Calabash Bistro; the popular Caribbean restaurant launched a satellite menu for the outpost and was looking forward to a summer of serving up eats indoors and outside in the spacious Bentall Centre plaza. 

Brewery's lease ended in the summer

The partnership was short-lived, sadly. "We stopped serving at the end of July," Calabash's owner and chef, Cullin David, tells V.I.A. 

North Point's lease for the space at Bentall had come to an end. "We were a casualty," adds David. "It was a sad summer."

Jeffries, who spoke with V.I.A. by phone this week, says North Point leaving the space "was pretty much always the plan."

"We had the opportunity to extend (the lease), but we decided not to, just for a few reasons," he tells V.I.A.

While it was profitable, Jeffries attests, the downtown location didn't fit with the company's brand, which includes a cabin-like aesthetic and community focus.

"There's not a community there, we're all about the community," he says.

North Point also focuses more on beer, while many of the office workers employed in the city's core were looking for specialty coffees; Jeffries notes that they didn't have the equipment to make lattes, for example.

The brewery also faced staffing issues, notes Jeffries.

North Point will focus more on the North Vancouver location for now he adds, with another major project three years out.

As far as Calabash goes, David says he initially had hoped his restaurant could take over the North Point space, but Bentall was unresponsive to his inquiries and says he became aware of plans for a coffee business to take over the venue.

Funk. Coffee Bar: New cafe with food menu by Vancouver's Novella/Bar Susu

That same space is now home to Funk. Coffee Bar, a sibling company to another North Vancouver brewery, House of Funk.

Jeffries acknowledges that he and his North Point partners had discussed the Bentall Centre location with House of Funk ownership when they were moving in and while a partnership at the time didn't come together, the location was mentioned again more recently.

"It's more on brand for them to do a cafe focused on coffee," he tells V.I.A. "It was a decision that they liked and they went with it."

When asked about the tenancy change the Bentall Centre would only comment that the new coffee shop is a welcome addition.

Funk. Coffee had a soft opening recently and officially opened its space Dec. 4. Along with the locally roasted beans from House of Funk's roasting arm, the new shop offers food from a much-loved Vancouver restaurant group.

"The morning menu will feature pastries, baked goods and breakfast wraps, with the afternoon seeing hearty sandwiches, soups and salads — all sourced from Novella and Bar Susu on Main St," states the Bentall Centre, adding that Bar Susu's wine experts are curating a wine menu, too. (House of Funk's coffees have been featured at Novella since its debut in December 2022.)

And like North Point before it, the craft brewery's new downtown Vancouver coffee shop will have a selection of its beers on tap.

The new coffee shop is open from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and can be booked on weekends and evenings. Follow @funk.coffeebar on Instagram.

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