By SHERI RADFORD
Life-changing experiences aren’t listed on the menu at East of Main, but they could (and should) be. Tucked away in the ever-evolving neighbourhood bordering Chinatown and Strathcona, the welcoming tapas room was opened in 2012 by sisters Maureen Webb and Donalda Weaver, who wanted to give back to the community where they grew up. All profits from the restaurant go to Project Limelight—also started by the sisters—which helps kids living in the Downtown Eastside to develop confidence and boost self-esteem through a free program of acting, dancing, singing, comedy and mime. At the end of each four-month session, participants give a final performance on a professional stage. East of Main does more than just donate money to Project Limelight: all participants receive healthy meals and snacks, too.
It’s difficult for any restaurant to survive in Vancouver, so how does one that gives away all of its profits do it? By creating a community, yes. By hosting special events and displaying the works of local artists, sure. But most of all by cooking great food. East of Main’s small plates are made for sharing, which offers diners the chance to try several mouth-watering concoctions: Spanish-style braised heritage Angus beef. Yarrow Meadows duck confit salad. Patatas bravas. Sumac Rossdown pulled chicken. Several varieties of Catalonian flatbread. A charcuterie and cheese board that changes daily. And, of course, delectable desserts.
Who knew helping the community could taste so good?