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'An extraordinary journey': Trailblazing Vancouver diner announces permanent closure

"If only we could continue this journey indefinitely!" say owners of the colourful and inclusive restaurant and entertainment space

The West End diner that has long served as a safe space for many and a trailblazer for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is saying goodbye in a matter of days.

Mary's on Davie - the extension of a legacy that began in 1979 as Hamburger Mary's - will close in mid-March.

"It is with our heartfelt emotions that we announce our forthcoming closure," announced Mary's on Davie's owners on Friday (March 1).

Mary's began 45 years ago as Hamburger Mary's, "under the creative vision of local drag luminary, Mrs. G," describes the restaurant and drag performance venue's current owners. 

"Mrs. G" was Gerry Goguen, who had been behind several nightlife hangouts in Vancouver in the 1970s. Goguen was offered the chance to take over a space by another nightlife business owner, and the result was Hamburger Mary's, which occupied one more interim space before settling in at 1202 Davie St, according to Xtra. 

The diner was known for being brash, playful, fun, and irreverent - but also inclusive. 

Current owners relaunched the restaurant as Mary's on Davie in 2018

Though Hamburger Mary's was in operational limbo just a few years ago, in 2018 a group of new owners took over the storied space and made significant renovations and a name change to Mary's on Davie. 

The new restaurant was known for its diner fare, boozy shakes, and welcoming atmosphere. 

Earlier this year, Mary's made use of having one of the city's rare "Dual Liquor Licences" to operate as a performance venue in the evenings. 

"Since 1979, Hamburger Mary’s has supported the marginalized and we are committed to continue in doing so," Mary's on Davie's co-owner Rachel Christensen told Vancouver Is Awesome in January. 

The business calls itself "Canada’s longest-standing globally-inclusive restaurant."

"'Globally inclusive' means come as you are, we love you, and you will find people who love you at Mary’s," Christensen said. "Show us who you are, show us all your stripes, and we will love and support this."

However, all good things must come to an end.

'If only we could continue this journey indefinitely!'

"Mary’s on Davie has enjoyed an extraordinary journey, evolution and stature in the West End community and we are profoundly appreciative of its legacy," share owners in the closure notice. 

"We’re proud to have been able to provide a place of employment for so many members of the West End Community and we’re proud of all the charities that we’ve supported and the many guests that we have served!"

"Our most recent chapter has been particularly gratifying," they added, with a nod to many of Mary's recent drag performers. 

"If only we could continue this journey indefinitely!"

Mary's on Davie has been listed for sale in recent years, though the owners did not indicate in the closure notice what was prompting them to bring Mary's to an end, or if any of the owners are retaining the space. 

There is more to come to the story, perhaps. 

"As the partners of Mary’s on Davie embark on new adventures, including the possibility of relocation, we invite you to stay tuned for our next exciting venture, soon to be unveiled to the public," hinted the owners. 

Mary's on Davie's last day of operations will be March 13.

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