Piggin' Business: Gentrification Atrocity in the Downtown Eastside
Gentrification Atrocity in the DTES
By Joseph Jones; February 8, 2013 - Vancouver Media Co-op
A one-hour picket went up at "PiDGiN" in the heart of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside at noon hour on Tuesday February 5 and has recurred since then.
You can tell that entrepreneur restauranteur Brandon Grossutti is still feeling antsy about getting that kind of attention a few days after his grand opening.
On the evening of Thursday February 7 Grossutti spent a good deal of time out on the sidewalk — observing the picketers, photographing the picketers, talking to the picketers, and offering the picketers a free snack from a box.
But no yelling, or being called "the poverty industry," which is what one of the anchor organizers said he got the first time around. A police car remained in evidence nearby for the entire hour, and at one point two sturdy boys in blue strode through the sidewalk congregation.
One picketer decided to check out prices on the menu. She respectfully left her sign lying on the sidewalk outside. Almost immediately she was coming back out the door to report being told: "I can refuse service to anyone I want. You're not welcome."
Several passers-by joined the picket group for brief periods. Two of them got rowdier than the long-termers ever did. The corner of Hastings and Carrall is a good place to find some company, right across the street from the fabled Pigeon Park. Here's hoping that Sunday diners can discover a few bargains at the street market on their way in for a pricey fancy bite. Probably they don't care about bargains?
In case you wondered, "pidgin" actually means business. Starting out as a Chinese pronunciation of the English word "business," it transmuted into another way of saying lingua franca or hybrid language.
Grossutti is out for business. He said he's been planning this undertaking for ten years, has borrowed money, and stands to lose everything if the venture fails. After he talked about employing twenty people, I asked if that was the number of staff in the restaurant. More precisely, he then said the restaurant has eleven full-time staff.
As for the innards of the business, and what goes on behind the glass, it seems best to let a foodie mag that explicitly prides itself on gluttony and vanity [take a look at the online masthead] coo about things like the chef and the decor.
In their world, nothing is accidental. The swish article says:
Clearly, a lot of thought went into everything a diner’s eye might set upon, and that includes the wide angle view of the oft-sordid goings on across the street at Pigeon Park.
If it really is all so planned, you have to wonder why Grossutti appears to have put so much at risk personally on this deal — and why he is so obviously anxious about picketing that seems not to have been foreseen.
Grossutti may already have learned that he is adding insult to injury in the eyes of regular residents of the Downtown Eastside. The condo space above, 21 Doors, is notorious for the eviction and displacement that paved the way for that recent incursion of gentrification.
Picketing is scheduled to continue on Friday 8 February 2013 from noon to 1:00 pm and from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.