Independents Thriving on Granville Street – Pt2

This article is part of a series of case studies produced by LOCO for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area (DVBIA). We have been working with the DVBIA since December 2016 to assess the issues with empty retail storefronts on Granville Street, understand the affordability and other issues, and ensure that independent businesses stay part of the retail mix in downtown Vancouver.

 Hungry Guys

“The foot traffic on Granville Street is fantastic.”

– Aldo Velaj, Owner, Hungry Guys Kitchen

Aldo Velaj opened Hungry Guys Kitchen in a new building at the busy corner of Granville and Nelson in November 2015. Hungry Guys Kitchen serves “good food fast – burritos, salads and bowls with an easy-going casual vibe” from 11am-10pm every day. 90% of the clientele consists of health conscious young professionals – many are well-dressed lawyers and judges coming for lunch from the courthouse.

Opportunities & Challenges

Hungry Guys occupies 3200 ft2 on the ground floor. Velaj secured favorable terms and is on good terms with his landlord, Fleetwood Investments, whom he says is friendly and responsible. His business is in a relatively new building, built about 5 years ago, that is also occupied by multinationals – Tim Horton’s and 7/11.

Velaj feels that lease rates in Vancouver generally seem high compared with other cities major Canadian cities like Montreal and Toronto. However, there are many storefronts available on Granville Street, and Velaj says that good rates can be found, with the best rates towards Davie Street.

Hungry Guys benefits from the high foot traffic on Granville Street – which he says say is fantastic – however, it doesn’t always translate directly to sales. Velaj thinks the concentration of street issues and homeless in the neighbourhood makes it tougher for businesses in the area. He hopes the City of Vancouver will do more to patrol and “clean” the streets.

Success

With its high profile location, and healthy fresh food, Hungry Guys has managed to launch their business mostly through word of mouth. Now that they are more established, Velaj is building the business with some online marketing and a bit of public relations. He focuses on different promotions every day, and is pleased to report that business is going well and the restaurant is profitable. He thinks that downtown Vancouver has crazy potential – with its beauty, modern infrastructure and design, clean air and  mild weather. Hungry Guys would love to see some new restaurants, coffee shops and bars take advantage of that opportunity and locate on Granville Street. Velaj himself will invest his efforts in the revitalization of the street – watch for a new concept restaurant nearby to his current business coming soon!

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