Iconic Yale Club on Vancouver’s Granville Street Set to Reopen … as a Saloon

Photo credit: Gord McKenna | Flickr

Photo credit: Gord McKenna | Flickr

The historic Yale club on Vancouver’s Granville Street is back, with a Wild West twist.

The iconic blues joint, which operated for more than 30 years before closing its doors in 2011, is set to reopen as a saloon this fall. The big neon saxophone sign will still be out front, and there will still be some live blues music, but pretty much everything else has changed.

For starters, the building itself was been completely renovated. Originally built in 1889 as a bunkhouse for Canadian Pacific Railway workers, the structure was long overdue for an overhaul. In place of the low ceilings, ancient carpet, time-worn tables and dark, dank (but not uncharming) interior that characterized the old Yale, music fans will now find an open, airy space themed like a country barbecue.

String lights are hung for an outdoorsy vibe, and cow-print carpets are spread on the floors. Fitting the theme, there’s even a mechanical bull, which takes centre stage every Thursday night for patrons looking to get back in the saddle.

The Yale Hotel circa 1944

The Yale Hotel circa 1944

Live music will remain a mainstay of the Yale, but the lineup has been remixed. While there will still be blues, jazz and karaoke will also be featured throughout the week. On weekends, sets will feature a mix of classic rock and country (yes, country) music, complementing the down-home feel. In a nod to the Yale of old, designers left lots of open floor space, perfect for dancers looking to let their hair down and kick up their cowboy boots.

The menu was certainly never a strong point of the original Yale (if there was one at all). In the Yale’s new incarnation, the focus is on authentic Southern barbecue. The saloon will feature one of the largest in-house industrial smokers in the city and specialize in slow-cooked meats, prepared with homemade rubs and vinegar-based sauces. The restaurant will even be open early for country-style brunch on weekends. (A lot of this seems vaguely reminiscent of the now defunct Fan Club on Granville Street, which was operated by the Yale’s original owners.)


The pre-reno Yale Hotel sign

This time around, the Yale is being run by the same company that manages downtown’s Vogue Theatre and the Biltmore Cabaret, two Vancouver institutions that have stood the test of time with great music, a nod to local heritage and an authentic feel. Here’s hoping that the new-and-improved Yale can recapture some of the same energy of its musty-old namesake. The exact opening date this fall will be announced on Facebook.

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