Family outing at the Aristocrat restaurant
Aristocratic, 1475 West Broadway
Some might remember the wonderful neon sign with ‘Risty’ in top hat and monocle, offering “courteous service and quality food.” That sign and the bustling corner location at Broadway and Granville made this an iconic spot for a coffee or lunch. The Aristocratic, part of a chain restaurant from from the 30s to the 60s, opened in 1938. The original sign was lost to demolition (Risty’s arms pumped up and down, inviting you in) but a subsequent neon sign sits in storage at the Vancouver Museum. The current occupant on the site, Chapters bookstore, put up a fake Aristocratic sign in the window to honour an icon.
Feb 22 1997
In 1928, a baker named Frank Hunter walked across the street to have lunch. Munching on his hamburger, he had an epiphany.
Hunter was selling buns to the restaurant for four cents a dozen. The restaurant took the bun, added a slab of ground beef with trimmings and sold it for 15 cents – a substantially higher profit.
Hunter decided he was in the wrong business, so he bought the restaurant. He renamed it Aristocratic Hamburgers and designed a snazzy logo featuring Ritsy, a dapper little man in top hat, tuxedo and monocle.
The Aristocratic was a huge success, becoming Vancouver’s premier restaurant chain from the 30s to the 60s, with up to a dozen locations. But times changed, and the once-mighty Aristocratic chain dwindled to one location, at Broadway and Granville.
On Sunday, Ritsy will serve up his last burger and fries. The Broadway and Granville site is being redeveloped and the Aristocratic is closing.
For long -time customers such as Nigel Clifton, it’s a sad day. The Aristocratic may have faded in latter years, but it had a certain je ne sais quoi you don’t get in sushi bars.
“What I like about this place is that you could sit and look out the window as you sipped your coffee,” says Clifton, sitting in his favorite booth. “You see a lot of accidents on this corner. Every now and then the bank gets robbed. During the big snowstorm (just after Christmas) we crammed in here and watched people ski down the hill and buses get stuck.”
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I can barely remember those days when the family would go out for a special meal. We had gone to the Aristocratic Restaurant on Broadway & Granville. The only thing the I can recall is the grinding noise that the Milk-Shack-Machine would make when the waitress would craft your milk-shack. Another memory of the Aristocratic was the arm pumping sign. Yes those memories of childhood! And those times as a teenager, on our way to the movie theater on Granville, we would stop at the Aristocratic for a bit to eat.