Vancouver’s Elbow Room Café is known for two things. Good food – and abuse! Lots and lots of abuse. The café’s built a reputation of giving customers a hard time. Surprisingly this approach attracts many customers. The World’s Andrea Crossan tried the strange café. (Photos: Andrea Crossan)
OK — ready? Meet Patrick Savoie.
“I’m gonna have sausage and eggs. A number 5. How Do you want your eggs? Over-easy, please? And what kind of toast? Sourdough.”
He’s co-owner of the Elbow Room Café in downtown Vancouver. And he’s perfectly capable of being nice to customers. But before you step get comfortable in his café, you gotta know the rules.
“Well first of all we only serve you your first cup of coffee and after that we tell you to get your *** up and get your own. We will not serve you a glass of water, okay. You have to get up and get your own water. The basic rule are that you do things for your self. Then of course if you spend too much time here and it’s busy we tell you to get a hotel room, you know.”
If you don’t like the rules – or if Patrick Savoie just feels like it – he’ll tell you where to go:
You can try the Fifth Orange, honey. They’re looking for some new exotic dancers. They would hire you right away.
That’s just a mild example. Much of what comes out of Savoie’s mouth would get this radio station in trouble with the FCC. The Elbow Room café has built its reputation on good food and verbal abuse. Lots of it.
Many Vancouverites love it. But now that the Olympics are in town, the café is getting some new visitors, and sometimes they haven’t been warned.
”No no one warned me at all… write up in LA Times… come back for the service… didn’t know this is what they meant by service.”
It helps that the Elbow Room café is located near some of Vancouver’s Olympic venues – like the hockey arena. But Savioe hasn’t been impressed with the city’s Olympic visitors.
”I don’t know what it is about the Olympics but it seems to bring in a different crowd of people. It seems to bring rowdy people it seems to bring people who think that their the only ones just because they got a ticket to a hockey game that they have to have their food served to them in a hurry or something like that.”
It may seem surprising that in a country know for its politeness, the Elbow Room has customers. Maybe that explains something about Vancouver. The city has been subjected to its share of abuse for all the problems at Olympic venues. But Vancouverites seem to be taking that criticism in stride. Maybe Patrick Savoie has it all figured out. Maybe Vancouverites actually like a bit of abuse now and then.
For The World, I’m Andrea Crossan – wanting another cup of coffee but too scared to ask – in Vancouver.