The Whip Restaurant and Gallery
By Jesse Donaldson

Beer, Art and Comfort Food - With a Twist

The building at 209 East 6th Ave has been many different things over the past 100 years: a tannery, a custom sign store, a local art gallery, a coffee shop, and even (briefly) a residence.“The former owner used to live in the space,” chuckles owner Erv Salvador, “and because it's a commercial storefront, people used to open his front door and be like: 'Hey, is this a coffee shop?' So one day, he decided he'd start selling coffee. And then it was sandwiches, and from there it turned into a coffee shop, and then years later it turned into a restaurant.”

And now, nearly 20 years after it first opened, The Whip Restaurant and Gallery continues to make that space their own. Current owner Erv has transformed the venue into one of Mount Pleasant's best-known watering holes, serving craft beer, cocktails and sumptuous comfort-food-style entrees in a unique, cozy atmosphere.

“It's about listening to your clientele, and seeing what people want,” Erv says. “That's how we've been successful here: we've changed with the times...people really connect with this room. I can't tell you how many people in a week that will come in and be like: 'We had our first date here ten years ago'.”

People really connect with this room. I can't tell you how many people in a week that will come in and be like: 'We had our first date here ten years ago'. - Erv Salvador, owner
The bar at The Whip features local craft beer and classic cocktails
The bar at The Whip features local craft beer and classic cocktails.

Smart Service. Crackin' Menu.

After having spent years working in virtually every aspect of the restaurant business, Erv took over The Whip back in 2006. And although much has changed during his tenure – an expanded kitchen, an emphasis on local craft beer (they were the first place in town to do a Cask Night), and an increased focus on organic, locally-sourced ingredients – there are some things that are a holdover from the old days, first and foremost: the name.

“Apparently, the original owner liked to go antiquing, and he had picked this old pub sign,” Erv recalls. “It showed a guy in a horse carriage with barrels of whiskey, and he had a big whip, and whoever owned the sign had hand-painted 'The Whip' on it. And he had that up, and started calling it The Whip because that's what the sign said.”

Artwork from local artists on display at The Whip
In addition to being a restaurant, The Whip also serves as a community artspace, featuring paintings and photographs from diverse artists from all over Vancouver.

Food and Art, Locally Sourced

As a nod to its artistic past (for years, the space was home to the Grunt Gallery), The Whip also serves as a community artspace, giving local artists a chance to showcase their work. This, like much of The Whip's development, was facilitated by customer input. “We often got asked: 'Do you guys do art shows'?” Erv explains, “so the year after we took it over, we decided ok, but they have to be from the neighbourhood."

And as for its future, Erv is careful to note that while in many ways The Whip will continue to evolve as it always has, there are some things that will never change. “I don't want to change the feel of the room too much,” he says. “My goal for the future is to keep it up, and update some things, but keep it running as it is. People feel comfortable here because it's been like this since day one. And I don't ever want to make it different.”

The Whip is an easy-going local hangout for Mount Pleasant residents
"People feel comfortable here," owner Erv Salvador says of the 100-year-old building The Whip calls home.
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