The Naam restaurant, a Vancouver vegetarian institution, listed for sale

·2 min read
The Naam vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver has been listed for sale for nearly $8 million, including the property which has a two-bedroom upstairs suite. The possibility of a sale puts the future of the decades-old vegetarian institution in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood in question. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
The Naam vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver has been listed for sale for nearly $8 million, including the property which has a two-bedroom upstairs suite. The possibility of a sale puts the future of the decades-old vegetarian institution in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood in question. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

For decades, The Naam in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood has been a go-to spot for people seeking 24-hour vegetarian comfort food. But now the restaurant's future is in jeopardy as the long-time owners list it for sale.

The business, along with the property — which includes a two-bedroom suite upstairs — has been listed for just under $8 million.

"It's shocking," said Glen Delukas, general manager at The Naam. "We're all still processing it."

Delukas, who started working at the restaurant in 1990 as a cook, said the owners are in their 70s and "just kind of want to wash their hands of the whole thing."

Maggie MacPherson/CBC
Maggie MacPherson/CBC

He said rising expenses, including payroll tax, wages, and supplies, are a constant challenge, and it's been difficult to turn a profit. The listing reports the business has an annual revenue of $1.5 million.

The restaurant, which used to include a grocery store, took the Naam name in 1969 when Kitsilano was known as a hippy hot spot. In 1989 it switched to 24-hours, which continued right up until the pandemic forced a brief closure. When it re-opened, staffing was difficult, said Delukas, and the restaurant now closes at 11 p.m.

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Much of the menu has remained consistent over the years, featuring items like veggie burgers and sesame fries with a side of miso gravy, Mexican dishes, and dragon bowls.

"So many years now, so many memories and changes throughout my life and The Naam has been a constant through it all," said Delukas, adding that many staff members have been there even longer than he has.

The real estate listing advertises the property as a future redevelopment site, but it also highlights the "high profile" restaurant on the ground floor.

Delukas said he doesn't know what the future will hold for him, the staff, and the restaurant. New owners could keep things going, or maybe it won't even sell.

"Maybe I'll find the perfect formula to keep us afloat," he said.

 Amélia MachHour/CBC
Amélia MachHour/CBC

According to Delukas, if the building is sold for redevelopment, there's always the possibility that the restaurant, with many of the same people and recipes, could eventually re-open in another location.

"For now we're here. I'm going to keep steering the ship and keep going as long as we can," he said.

And while customers keep coming in and enjoying the classic dishes, Delukas said the real estate listing hasn't led to anything yet.

"So far there's no bites."