Independents Thriving on Granville St-Pt4

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.

The Pawn Shop

“If Granville Street is the party street, let’s make it the best party street.” – Peter Raptis, Owner, The Pawn Shop

Veteran restaurateur Peter Raptis owns The Pawn Shop on Granville Street (and The Wooden Spoon Co., in White Rock). Raptis knows a thing or two about the changing face of Granville Street. He opened in 2004, and expanded upstairs 5 years later by opening the Refinery event space. He renovated Sip Lounge in 2016 and reopened as The Pawn Shop. He made the change to accommodate the area’s more casual dining scene, catering to tech office workers, but also to area residents and late night revellers.  

Opportunities & Challenges

The Pawn Shop and the Refinery each occupy about 2 000 ft2 each in the heart of downtown. Raptis has secured favourable lease terms for many years, however his rates have steadily increased, mostly due to property tax increases that get passed on to him as part of his lease. He’s now paying about 200% more than when he started. There are many leasing opportunities on Granville Street at the moment. Raptis says the landlords of those spaces are key to helping transforming the area: “Landlords need to start seeing the long-term gain – they should invest in their buildings, and stop taking the first business that comes along. Leasing to the next marijuana dispensary or fast food place is keeping Granville Street in a rut.”

A growing challenge doing business on Granville Street is the maintenance of the street. Late night crowds, daytime loitering, and homeless camps create maintenance issues and increase costs for area businesses. Raptis says that unfortunately this is starting to translate into an image problem with Granville – a sense that the area is more dangerous than it is.


Since Granville Street has been zoned as entertainment district by the City of Vancouver, concentrating liquor primary venues and entertainment venues, he wonders why so many things are restricted on the street. Raptis says “if Granville is the party street, then let’s make it the best party street.” Relaxing regulations that stop music at midnight, and maximizing the enjoyment of public space can help. He suggests removing the parking bollards, allowing bigger restaurant patios, and continuing to activate the alleys on Granville Street. He has a few parking spaces in his alley and would like to install a patio to contribute to that.

Raptis has seen many businesses come and go on Granville Street and still sees enormous potential for the street. He’d like to see existing businesses better adapt to the clientele on the street, and have landlords bring in new businesses to help draw new and varied foot traffic – new retailers, tech offices and training schools that complement the existing mix of businesses on the street.


About Amy Robinson


  1. Before drinking the koolaid about how great the GED is, businesses considering locating there may want to read the City’s latest report, published last week. The report admits that the district has become a mess, thanks to the impact of the City’s archaic policies, that promote excessive liquor availability there. The harms to public health and safety from alcohol are far greater than from tobacco, so time for the City to bring liquor policies out of the antiquated glow of Mad Men era glamorization, and into the bright light of evidence-based policies, as has long since been done with tobacco. Here’s the report:

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