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To Be Or Not Toby’s

Toby's On Commercial

By only

Friday October 22, 2004

MEANWHILE, on Commercial Drive, everyone’s ex-favourite, anomalous-eyesore-rock venue just got the shiniest, Firkinest, facelift you would never have really wanted to see. The Silvertone Tavern, formerly famous for their trivia nights, mid-show off-sales, and “let anyone play’ booking strategy, closed its doors just a little over a year ago this week, marking the end of an era for independent alcoholism in East Vancouver; a tradition that reaches as far back as to those spooky Broadway Express years. With its remodeling it’s birthed another suspiciously generic-looking tap house, in an unusually marketed neighbourhood, indeed. Granted, there really was no walking distance establishment available for all those upscale, Broadway and Commercial types. The establishment in question is handsomely named Toby’s now, and it falls somewhere close to being a well-lit Earl’s clone–perhaps it’s reaching to refer to it as a sub-chic Urban Well. Either way, it looks and smells like two stories of St. Germaine-at-a-reasonable-volume personified and it’s conveniently located in the heart of Kitsilano East (Commercial and 14th for all of you without the GPS unit in the Pontiac Vibe).
Is this all just a bad dream? A sorely sober reality for Vancouver’s fairly certain yuppie fate? A one way ticket to Newfoundland? The Only was informed that the drastic changes aren’t due to a visionless newcomer’s investment into an environment with which they’re unfamiliar; Toby’s is owned by the same good folk who took care of us lost souls, and a majority of the management are still employed. Somehow they are hanging on to their classification as a local pub, although the appearance would clearly suggest otherwise.
Surprisingly, when asked about their entertainment criteria, Only was told that although there is no set itinerary for Toby’s to be a live music venue, there is a DJ booth, satellite radio, and the possible space for a stage.
“The baseball game is playing on the big screen right now, but if there’s no sports event we can retract the screen,” a bartender informed Only by telephone. “And we have football on Monday nights.”
Also offered, along with the facelift, is an upgraded ”full dinner menu,” including unusual dishes such as salmon burgers for the vegetarian overflow crowd up at the Café Deux Soleils, and graciously priced pints at around $4.25.
Is this the forerunner in the push to stake out a Banana Republic, straight up the arse of Vancouver’s East side? Time will only tell, but even if the condos go up across the street and they turn the Taco Loco into a Birks, you can still get offsales up at the Cedar Cottage without feeling like someone’s dirty uncle. For now.
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