Historic Victoria Drive Building Unveils 1920s Ad Mural and New Tenant

March 23, 2012, two hours after the grand opening

On Friday evening, March 23, 2012, Dominic and Giorgio Morra’s Via Tevere PIzzeria Napoletana opened for business, clearly a unique local business and a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. It actually gives the neighbourhood a whole new feel after the  vacant, run down storefront that was there for about a decade. And thanks again to them for saving the historic sign! And what a great little vintage car they park out front, the Fiat 500  ‘Cinquecento’ that was introduced back in 1957.

Last fall the workers removing stucco on the old Doctor Vigari building (Victoria Drive at William Street) revealed an amazing 1920s advertising mural. Hidden for decades was a classic cartoon baker flogging fresh 4X bread from the ovens of Vancouver’s successful Shelly Bakery.

By wonderful coincidence the old mural could pass for a mural depicting a chef making a pizza.

Also historically speaking, besides being the original home of Dr. Vigari art gallery (now at 1816 Commercial Drive), this building was the location of the bookstore where the climatic scene of the movie Better Than Chocolate was filmed in 1999. The movie was directed by Anne Wheeler and featured Canadian actors Ann Marie MacDonald (the novelist) and Jay Brazeau. The plot was very Commercial Drive: “Two attractive young lesbians, Maggie and Kim, meet in Vancouver, develop a passionate romance, and move in together…” One scene was based on the infamous lesbian kissing incident at nearby Joe’s Cafe, two blocks down William Street at Commercial Drive.

The bookstore in Better Than Chocolate was a representation of Vancouver’s Little Sisters Bookstore, and the plot covers some of the historic censorship issues that Little Sisters had to content with back in the stone age of the 1980s.