Dulin's Cafe, known for its hearty breakfast menu and friendly staff, is preparing to move a little bit closer to the heart of Uptown Village in downtown Vancouver.
"There's a lot more foot traffic and the building has a lot of personality," Pat Dulin said of the former Pop Culture site at 1929 Main St. that he has signed on to lease.
The contract with building owner Broughton Bishop gives Dulin a couple of weeks to research the cost of renovating the space, a historic brick storefront. Dulin hopes to install a self-contained kitchen and arrange the cafe's dining room in a way that highlights the building's tall ceilings, over-the-door transom glass and front picture windows.
"It's a nice building," said Dulin, who last November announced plans to move his longtime downtown restaurant out of its present site at 1708 Main St., which is owned by The Holland Inc., parent of the Burgerville restaurant chain.
Since 2002, Dulin's Cafe has leased about 10,000 square feet of the block's one-story building, former home to The Holland Restaurant for 68 years. That restaurant closed in 2001.
The Holland Inc. has given Dulin ample time to move by extending the lease to the end of the year, although Dulin said he doesn't expect to require the time.
"Ideally, I'll have it built out in 90 days," he said.
The building is situated about three blocks north of Dulin's present site, which will pull the restaurant deeper into Uptown Village. Dulin hopes it will help him capture foot traffic in the walkable business sector, with its eclectic collection of shops and restaurants along an eight-block stretch of Main Street roughly from McLoughlin Boulevard north to Fourth Plain Boulevard.
Dulin has already signed a lease with the building's owner, Bishop, a downtown landlord and part owner of Portland-based Pendelton Woolen Mills. Now Dulin is waiting for a final estimate to convert the 2,200-square-foot space into a new home for his cafe. The restaurant's present site is much larger, at about 10,000 square feet.
The smaller space hearkens back to when Dulin's first opened in 1992 in Uptown Village at 1905 Main St., a small storefront also owned by Bishop.
"He's going to have a more intimate dining space, more similar to what he had," said Pam Lindloff, an associate vice president with NAI Norris Beggs & Simpson who negotiated the deal between landlord and tenant.
She said the west-facing building even has room for a couple of sidewalk tables.
Dulin expects the extra foot traffic in Uptown Village may lead to an expansion of his menu and hours to include an early dinner offering. At the moment, Dulin's and its staff of 19 employees serve breakfast and lunch only.
"This is going to give him (Dulin) a chance to revitalize his business," Lindloff said.
Lindloff said Dulin had expressed reservations about the relocation and the unknowns of the recently failed Columbia River Crossing project’s light-rail component.
“It certainly did influence his decision,” she said.
The Holland Inc.’s building would have been situated just off the proposed light-rail line. Dulin's Cafe takes up a small portion of the building, which includes a rear parking lot. The company has been looking at options to redevelop the almost full city block it owns on the southwest
corner of Main Street and West McLoughlin Boulevard, said Tom Mears, board chairman of Holland Inc., owner of the burger chain founded by George Propstra.
But Mears remained tight-lipped about whether the company's plans will include a replacement downtown Burgerville restaurant. It had operated a nearly 50-year-old walk-up hamburger stand at the corner of Mill Plain Boulevard and D Street. The building was torn down in late 2011 to make way for a $16 million apartment complex, Prestige Plaza, now under construction.
Mears said he still hears requests from patrons who want a new downtown Burgerville. But he said the company does not have plans to rebuild at this time.
"There's still lots of potential for Burgerville downtown, but we don't see it yet," Mears said.