Where in Vancouver do you like to meet to give a pitch, look for a job or hear about a company’s progress? Over coffee or at lunch are the main ways to meet in our town. After 15 years of talking to technology entrepreneurs, angels, fellow VCs and plenty of management types looking for jobs in the sector, I have come to like a few key spots around Vancouver’s downtown for coffee and lunch meetings. I thought I would publish my list of favourite hangouts that seem to be popular with the tech types like me. I probably will miss a few excellent spots and see if I can get a discussion going to find a new place to try.
My criteria is simple: It has to be comfortable to talk business, have great food/coffee and have the off chance that I run into someone else in technology to a) show my guest that I might actually be popular and b) kill two birds in one off-site meeting. Free wi-fi is a given for all demos and the chance to look busy just in case your meeting doesn’t show. Many restaurants lack this feature, but all coffee shops are good to go.
Coffee Meetings: You have 30 minutes to an hour to spend, so the location has to be accessible, the seats comfortable and the coffee good, so that a crummy meeting doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time. My favourites:
- Caffe Artigiano (Thurlow and Pender or Hastings and Howe): Bustling and loud, the Caffe Artigiano brand is best known for its excellent Italian coffee and the fancy designs they make with your foam. I love meeting people here simply for the coffee. They tend to be loud which can be good when discussing confidential business ideas, but bad when you want to hear the gossip.
- Blenz in Yaletown (Hamilton and Helmcken) : Location, location, location. This coffee shop could easily be called Bob’s Cold Coffee and Stale Baked Goods... and it would still be full of tech types because it is the shortest walk for most of the Yaletown crowd. The Starbuck’s on Mainland is too small, so Blenz works. The milk chocolate mocha is pretty awesome too.
- JJ Bean (Homer and Davie): The Blenz alternative in Yaletown. If you can get the core Yaletown types to walk an extra block! Nice upper deck feature for meetings and the patio is better than Blenz. My Americano Misto is made perfectly here.
- Los Beans Trading Company (Alexander and Dunlevy): A few technology companies are on the eastern edge of Gastown and this place has the best organic coffee. Far off the beaten path for any meetings that don’t involve local companies though.
- My Honey’s Buns (In Cathedral Place, Hornby & Georgia): Best name in Vancouver and fantastic, young couple (not sure who is referring to whose buns in the name) that serve great coffee, have sports on the TV and comfortable quiet setting to discuss important deals. And it’s about 15 steps from my building...
- Mink (Breezeway beside Terminal City Club, foot of Hornby) – If you haven’t tried Mink, you clearly don’t have a chocolate fetish. Have anything with chocolate, but this summer I fell in love with their blended ice chocolate. It’s quiet and the staff is friendly and cute. This might be letting the secret out...
Lunch Meetings: Forget Joey’s, Cactus Club, Saltlik and Earl’s... seriously. Go there to ogle the waitresses after work when you have a beer. These are not useful business meeting places when your lunch mate is never making eye contact with you for obvious reasons. Get a place with great food, relative quiet and still trendy to make your pitch. These are my favourites for lunch:
- Kamei Royale Sushi (Georgia and Burrard) – It has reasonably priced sushi and lots of small private tables to talk at. I have eaten here a hundred times since 1994 and it remains my favourite lunch hang out.
- Showcase (In Marriott at Thurlow and Hastings) – Just order the chef’s continuing obsession, the curry special. Always quiet and the same wait staff since it opened, it seems. I enjoy this place for meetings anytime.
- Brown’s Social House Yaletown (Mainland near Davie) – Many, many choices in Yaletown, but for value, quiet booths and superb food, Brown’s wins. If you must ogle, sit on the patio. But do order the Thai soup and the Cowboy salad. The perfect lunch, even if the pitch leaves a bad taste.
- Chill Winston (Carrall and Water, Gastown) – Best patio downtown and great tapas and light fare for lunch. If you are meeting down that way, the techies like to well, uh, chill here.
- Copper Chimney (In Le Soleil hotel on Hornby at Dunsmuir) – Yes it’s close to my work, but a surprisingly awesome Indian fusion restaurant with perfect one on one tables for discussion of the big ideas. Don’t walk past the Chimney...
I am not an investor in any of these locations and have not (yet) been offered free fare. I have not bothered to Yelp these either. Look for me, the guy in the banker’s suit trying to somehow look hip, in any of these joints soon. Your comments are welcome!