As you walk in through the side doors just past the old Staples, you are confronted by a vintage 7-Up refrigerator that looks like something you’d find in Wayne’s World or some other quintessentially 90s movie.
You look towards the counter, drawn to the greasy sizzle of bacon and eggs being fried to a slight char on the stove beneath it.
You know that, in a few minutes, a hungry patron will be enjoying an explosion of mushrooms, pepperoni, and beef that make up the legendary Super Sub.
For almost three decades, Bob’s Submarine Sandwiches had been satisfying the greasy spoon cravings of hungry Richmonders on the corner of No. 3 and Cook.
While some were taken by the carefree 90s vibe, many more reveled in the throwback prices; just $5 netted you a burger with fries while a 6″ Super Sub could be yours for less than $6.
But even its retro decor and prices couldn’t save the iconic breakfast diner from the pressures of the 21st century,
And in March 2018, between all the condominium developments that had sprung up around their beloved restaurant, Frank and Mi-Yeong finally called it a day.
Born and raised in Richmond, I had the opportunity to experience the city as it grew by leaps and bounds, particularly after the opening of the Canada Line Skytrain in 2009.
I watched as detached homes became townhouses, and as townhouses became apartments. Heck, they even began constructing a park on the Garden City Lands, a huge swath of prime real estate that had been locked in a land dispute for as long as I can remember.
And in the coming decades, the city’s core will be further transformed as the longstanding Richmond Centre and Lansdowne Centre malls are slated to be replaced by open-air shopping centres filled with premium brands from all over the world.
But for every new high-rise tower built and every international brand that sets up shop, a little piece of the Richmond I know is lost.
Like Danny’s Market, our go-to for a cold drink after a long summer day. Their signature mix of flavoured syrup, crushed ice, and soft-serve ice cream (aptly named the Screamer for the brain-freezes they so often induce) was the source of many sticky fingers over the years.
Or the Richmond Centre cinemas, where we would spend hours on end after school hanging out and playing air hockey. I still remember catching the evening showtime of 2012 before heading to Pearl Castle across the mall for a late-night snack.
There’s a special feeling that comes from knowing that others around you have been to the same places you’ve been and felt the same way you felt.
A feeling that bonds us together as a community.
That’s the power of collective experience.
In Greek mythology, the citizens of Athens honoured their founding hero, Theseus, by maintaining the seaworthiness of his ship.
Eventually, however, its wooden frame began to deteriorate. And as it did, the Athenians replaced the rotting lumber, plank by plank.
And while what stood in its place years later looked and felt exactly like Theseus’ ship,
It just wasn’t quite the same.
Similarly, cities are dynamic and ever-changing. After all, it’s the people that make the city and not the other way around.
But just how much of a city can be replaced, block by block,
Before it ceases to be the same community you know and love?
Because it seems like more and more often lately,
I look up places I had visited long ago,
Places that I have so many memories attached to,
Places I couldn’t imagine growing up without,
Only to see a bright banner reading: