"We want to create a place that people would like so much that they'd want to come back time and time again," says Bailey Hayward.
Hayward, along with partner Matthew Bishop, are a pair of Vancouver hospitality vets (The Mackenzie Room, Say Mercy!, Collective Goods) who are getting ready to open the doors to their first indie venture, Gary's. The pair posit the venture as "relaxed fine dining influenced by the seasons."
Located at 1485 W 12th Ave in the South Granville neighbourhood, Gary's - described by the owners as "a nice place for nice people" - has taken the place of prior tenant Fiore. The Italian restaurant, which was part of the Stable House group, closed indefinitely in the summer of 2022; Hayward tells V.I.A. by email she and Bishop have had the keys to the space since May.
Gary's design was created and executed by Hayward and Bishop themselves. Hayward says when they first got into the "well-loved" space this spring "the ceilings were black and the walls were navy blue."
"Our goal was to create a blank slate and then layer in little, fun touches here and there," Hayward continues. "We didn’t want the white walls to feel stark, so we added in white oak accents (with a hint of walnut) and chose black seating for some contrast."
Inspiration from Gary's came from a series of dinners Hayward and Bishop hosted at home during the pandemic - "with our safe six," the restaurateur adds - a callback to the restrictions on household gatherings in British Columbia. They "really wanted to bring that same energy to the restaurant," Hayward points out.
Hayward describes the menu for Gary's as "just good and comforting food made with good ingredients."
To that end, and thanks in no small part to the incredible ingredients that come from the region, Gary's menu of predominantly share plates at its core is rooted in "the simplicity of modern British cuisine and classic French technique," describes Hayward, adding: "But there are no limits."
"We want to taste and to have fun; we plan to offer a specials board in addition to our regular dinner menu," Hayward adds.
What's on the menu at Gary's
Speaking of fun, Gary's will also give guests the option of "handing your dinner decisions over to the kitchen and enjoying a shared, multi-course menu for the table." The practice is something diners at places Hayward and Bishop have previously worked would be familiar with; the duo says proudly their experiences in Vancouver restaurants have shaped a lot of their vision for what they want Gary's to be.
Dishes on the soft opening menu include options like a stunning wedge-inspired salad on locally-grown buttercrunch lettuce, tender pork cheeks on a bed of spaetzle, and a saucy take on a ratatouille atop creamy Anson Mills grits studded with roasted corn kernels.
For those imbibing, Hayward offers some insight into the drinks program: "The beverage list is a selection of some of our favourite wines, cocktails, and spirits that represent what we love to drink and what we feel works well with our food. We keep the wine list short, sharp, and dynamic with an ever-evolving selection of wines from producers across the globe that we admire for their respectful, low-intervention wine-making."
"We have a really solid team on board, many of whom we’ve had the privilege of working with over the years," Hayward notes. "We are so excited to see what we can all accomplish together."
The intimate 36-seater (which could end up increasing to the location's max of 42) will have 24 dining room seats, room for eight at the bar, and four high-top tables with stools. Gary's, slid into "soft opening" mode at the end of September, will be serving up food, drink, and "light-hearted and non-fussy" vibes Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until close. Reservations can be made online, though walk-ins are welcome.
Follow @garysontwelfth to keep up with this new neighbourhood dining option in South Granville.
Video: Dinner at Vancouver's newest modern neighbourhood bistro
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This article originally appeared on Sept. 13, 2023 and has since been updated.