Calhoun’s Bakery, a Kitsilano institution steeped in nostalgia, has shut down and is up for lease after 24 years of business.
A favourite late-night study spot for thousands of UBC students, the cafe was beloved for its high ceilings, rustic wooden furniture and stellar selection of caffeinated drinks and home-cooked food.
Hiu Wan, Calhoun's owner and a former UBC student himself, said he closed the cafe to upgrade and spend more time on his catering service, which makes up 80–90 per cent of his revenue. The hassle of running two places while raising two children also factored in.
“A lot of times we were actually turning away catering business because we didn't have the capacity to do it. We decided over the past few months to build a new kitchen ... so we could focus on the catering,” he said.
This summer, the coffee house switched from being open 24 hours a day to closing at midnight, due to issues with unwanted customers.
“The homeless would come in and just hang out there. They'd buy a coffee and then they would stay the whole night. I didn't want to deal with it anymore,” said Wan.
Calhoun’s operated on a model that let patrons stay and use the WiFi indefinitely, as long as they made a small purchase at certain intervals. For extended study sessions, the mandatory spend was much less than one would probably spend on coffee anyway, which meant that every exam period, students would flock to the cafe at all hours in hopes of snagging a seat.
Wan has no immediate plans to open a new cafe location.
“Maybe in the future if I have the extra time, when my kids grow up a bit, maybe I might open another cafe or something. But for now, we'll just do our catering,” he said.
This article has been updated to include comment from Calhoun's owner Hiu Wan.