Renzo’s: once a tailor shop, today a cafe

Here Today is the title of my exhibition coming up in August. In this exhibit, I am reflecting on landmarks and establishments connected to the Italian community in the Commercial Drive area (my neighbourhood in Vancouver) and beyond. Commercial Drive used to be called Little Italy but this name does not apply any longer since The Drive (as it is referred to now) has evolved into a multi-cultural neighbourhood.

Renzo's awning

a section of Renzo’s awning framed by son Andre and to be hung in the coffee shop

The Drive has been my neighbourhood for five years. Before that I’d often come here to shop at Santa Barbara market and Bosa on Victoria Drive, and I’d go for coffee at Cafe Roma to name just one possibility. I’ve often walked by establishments on The Drive but have never gone in. Mind you, I’ve wanted to go in but held back to avoid awkwardness because I didn’t have any business there and some places it just doesn’t seem to be appropriate to go in and browse. One such place was Renzo’s Tailors which was located on the corner of Commercial and Charles, next to Grandview Park. Renzo’s Tailors closed a couple of years ago and has re-opened as a cafe.

This change is not a sad one as the business is still in the family. The tailor shop was run by tailor Renzo Montagliani, and now the coffee shop is run by his son Andre. The name is still Renzo’s–I like that. Renzo himself can often be seen at the coffee shop having coffee with other Italians or perhaps checking-in to see that his son is doing a good job?

Each and every person has an interesting story about their life. If they have businesses sometimes we can find articles about them. I lucked out with Renzo. The Vancouver Courier published an article in 2010 giving us just a bit of insight into this businessman.

Things change, it’s inevitable, but as long as there is a record of them, a trace, a memento to honour the people, the buildings, etc. then sometimes it’s easier to accept. Andre, Renzo’s son has framed a section of Renzo’s Tailors awning and will be hanging that soon in the cafe. He said he also wants to bring other artifacts from his father’s business and display them in the cafe.

Interesting tidbit: 53 years ago, a custom suit cost $55; today it would be a minimum of $1,500.

Hope to see at my Opening reception: August 1st, 6:30 – 8:30 pm.

The exhibition runs from August 1st to the 30th.

Here Today (2 person show)
Britannia Art Gallery
1661 Napier Street (in the library) Vancouver, see on map

In conjunction with the exhibition, I will be offering a *free* workshop funded by Britannia Art Gallery:

August 4th, 1 to 4pm
Image Transfer Pocket Mirror Workshop
Britannia Community Centre
A maximum of 10 people can register.
Register through the community Centre.

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  • luisa

    Very interesting story, the one of Renzo, “tailor to the stars”.

  • Laura

    Thank you! I will be posting a few more tidbits on Italian establishments in the upcoming weeks.