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Downtown Vancouver farm-to-table restaurant announces permanent closure

"And with that we say goodbye 👋🏼"
Royal Dinette announced March 16 they would be shuttering for good. Photo: Royal Dinette/Facebook

Amidst the ever-expanding list of Vancouver restaurants closing temporarily in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis comes word that one venture is closing down for good.

Royal Dinette, the curious experiment launched in 2015 that brought together a major pub group and an independent farm-to-table concept and chef, announced this week they would be shuttering for good.

"For the last 4 1/2 years, we’ve been able to bring farm to table food, craft cocktails, natural wine & hospitality to the financial district of Vancouver. With a heavy heart, we have decided to close our doors permanently," shared the downtown Vancouver restaurant on their social media pages Monday.

"We would like to thank all of our local providers & producers for allowing us to showcase the bounty that BC has to offer. We would also like to thank all of our staff past & present. Lastly, we would like to thank all of our regulars for coming in time & time again, I think we’ll miss you the most."

"And with that we say goodbye 👋🏼 much love, Royal Dinette."

Royal Dinette was the initial project of Vancouver farm-to-table chef Dave Gunawan, who at the time was best known for his South Granville restaurant Farmer's Apprentice, and the Donnelly Group, whose Blackbird Pub operates upstairs at the Dunsmuir Street location.

Donnelly's role was said to be minimal, allowing Gunawan to develop a seasonally-driven menu showcasing sophisticated techniques, hand-made pastas, preserves, and an exiting bar and wine program. However, Gunawan and Donnelly parted ways - Gunawan also moved on from Farmer's Apprentice and its sibling wine bar, Grapes & Soda, and is now running his Ubuntu Canteen on Fraser - and the restaurant has seen its concept remain generally upheld, with several chef shuffles.

Last year, Royal Dinette was among the Vancouver shows featured on TV's "Big Food Bucket List," that found Food Network Canada personality John Catucci of "You Gotta Eat Here" fame travelling around to Canadian restaurants to highlight their must-try dishes. At Royal Dinette, Catucci met with Chef Amanda Healy, who showed him a fish dish that made creative use of all parts of a delicata squash. 

On the same day Royal Dinette made their permanent closure announcement, the Donnelly Group announced that all of their bars, restaurants, and clubs would be closed effective 8 p.m. that same day - but cautioned not all their venues might survive the shutdown.

"As a small business, like many others across Canada, we will be looking to the government for economic support," said Jeff Donnelly in a statement.

"We’ll aim to reopen all of our businesses when the time is right but without the help of our landlords, lenders and suppliers aiding us to alleviate this financial burden, it’s possible they may not all make it. When this passes, we’re sure that support for local, independent businesses such as our own as well as the businesses we support will be necessary for communities to get back on their feet."