Change may well be inevitable, but after over 40 years, it's hard to imagine what change can do to one of Vancouver's most recognizable restaurants.
Thanks in no small part to its vibrant yellow exterior, along with its prime positioning at one of the city's most dynamic tourist (and locals') hot spots, Bridges is set to reopen on May 31 after an eight-month closure to undergo renovations and rebranding under its current (and new-ish) ownership.
Summer 2021 was a time of lasts for Bridges as we knew it, as the 1980-born institution for approachable, seafood-centric fare, beers and drinks with a hard-to-beat patio and sweeping False Creek views wound down operations in preparation for re-launch.
A little backstory: Daniel Frankel, founder of Tap & Barrel (and its off-shoots, like Brewhall) purchased the restaurant in 2018, with a vision to upgrade the restaurant and give it a bit of an identity shake-up. The pandemic may have drawn out the plans a bit, as things didn't get underway until the fall of 2021, after the temporary closure.
The story of Bridges goes back to the mid-70s, when Frankel’s Uncle Michael Seelig and Nathan Divinsky, both UBC professors, came up with the concept for a pub-style restaurant. They eventually joined forces in 1979 with partners Abe Sacks, Manny Glasser, former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, and, later, Frankel’s parents George and Tamara.
While the menu has seen some significant changes since Frankel took over in 2018, Bridges remained fixed in many people's memories, representing experiences from times gone by.
Last summer, Tap & Barrel explained what would be changing inside Bridges - and the inside part is key because that bright yellow exterior absolutely has remained.
The interior was set to "be taken down to its studs," and the walls and kitchens moved. Both the downstairs lounge and dining rooms as well as the upstairs private event venue area have been fully renovated.
The restaurant's renovation has focused on using "local materials, crafted by local artists, and reclaimed industrial materials that celebrate the legacy of Granville Island."
"This iconic and historic location has gone under a total transformation and rebrand into something we are proud to share with all of you," touted the Tap & Barrel Instagram account in late May, about a week ahead of the May 31 relaunch.
The menu has also undergone a revamp: "Bridges classics reinvented with a Tap & Barrel twist," previews the restaurant on its Facebook page. Looks like we'll see dishes like a salmon Caesar salad, mussels and fries, and lots of seafood in items like Eggs Benedict and chowder.
Tap & Barrel has kept the changes under wraps, offering just a few glimpses online of what's changed at the restaurant.
Tap & Barrel Bridges is located at 1696 Duranleau St in Vancouver and re-opens at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Reservations are available online via OpenTable.