Malone’s going out with a bang


November 1st will be a bittersweet day for anyone who remembers when you could still order a pizza or hamburger from the comfort of your towel on Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach. One of Vancouver’s favourite beachside haunts, and arguably the best patio in the city, Malone’s in Kits is closing its doors and umbrellas for the last time on Saturday, November 1, 2008.

To mark the occasion and express thanks to the Kits community for supporting the restaurant for more than 20 years, Malone’s will be holding a private Halloween party on October 31st and then a final closing party on November 1st. Partial proceeds from the events will be donated to the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House.

Tickets for Kitsilano’s Best Halloween Party on October 31st are on sale now for $50 and include live DJ, costume contest with cash prizes and appetizers throughout the evening. Tickets for the Farewell night on November 1st are on sale now for $125 and include beverages, live DJ, Vegas Trip Give-away and appetizers throughout the evening. Tickets can be purchased at either Malone’s Kitsilano or Malone’s Downtown location.

A little Malone’s history after the jump…

Malone’s owner Sam Yehia first opened Sami’s Restaurant at the Cornwall Avenue location in 1987, before he opened Gastown’s equally famous The Cambie Pub. In the early days at Sami’s, Yehia pioneered the concept of beachside service by sending restaurant staff armed with walkie-talkies out to popular Kitsilano beach to take orders and deliver food to hungry sunbathers.

The novelty of that beachside delivery got Sami’s onto the 6 o’clock news, but unfortunately the restaurant also ran afoul of city inspectors and beachside service was soon halted. However, Yehia’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm won him the respect of neighbours and the public, who remained loyal customers as the restaurant went through a number of evolutions over the years.

The restaurant was briefly operated as a Senor Frog’s in 1990 to 1992 before rebranding as the Buena Vista, a tapas-style bar. In 1994, Yehia invited the founding partners of a sports bar, Trevor Magee and Reid Flemons, to install the Malone’s concept at the location, after which Yehia says, “We’ve never looked back.”

Yehia says that while Malone’s may be closing, he hopes to one day find another location in which to open a Malone’s on the West side. “I would like to thank all the patrons who have enjoyed their experiences at Malone’s in Kitsilano. I know so many people who met at Malone’s and went on to have families. There are no regrets, only fond memories, and certainly we look forward to seeing the friends, family and people we’ve known over the years back at Malone’s for one final cheer.”


Last modified: October 17, 2008

9 Responses to " Malone’s going out with a bang "

  1. A sad day for Kitsilanoites everywhere. That was definitely one place where you paid for the view, not the food! Will certainly miss it.

  2. kitsgirl says:

    to bad its closing, thats where i met my hubby!! looking forward to whatever is replacing it though. hopefully the food will be better!!

  3. For more than 20 years, Malone’s Bar and Grill has occupied one of the prime corners of Vancouver beachfront real estate. But the Kitsilano landmark is shutting down at the end of this month.

    “The landlord refuses to have us as a tenant,” said Sam Yehia, head of the Cambie Malone’s Group. “The terms and conditions that he entered into in the ’80s weren’t what they should be in the ’90s when the market rebounded. So he wanted to reinvent those leases and we resisted.” Property owner Wes Hanley, of Hanley W. & Co. Ltd. in West Vancouver, refused to comment.

    Yehia opened the business in 1987 as Sami’s Restaurant, and then turned it into a Señor Frog’s in the early ’90s. It was the Buena Vista, a tapas-style bar, before Yehia and two partners, Trevor Magee and Reid Flemons, transformed it into Malone’s.

    With its patio, bikini contests and sports-bar atmosphere, Malone’s epitomized the Kits lifestyle. Yet Yehia has been in the location long enough to have seen changes in the neighbourhood and the customers.

    “It’s become a lot more affluent, and real estate is such that you’ve gotta be pretty successful to be able to afford to live there,” he said. “So you get that kind of economic pressure on that particular community. But [the location] has always been a tremendous little jewel in terms of a beachside getaway.”

    Vancouver has become a culinary hotspot, even a destination for the international foodie crowd. But gastronomic snobs aren’t Malone’s desired market.

    “Of course, we love the competition, and we love the fact that it’s recognized as one of the principle features of why people love living in Vancouver,” said Yehia. “But we’re not competing for the chi-chi [crowd]. We’re competing with the experience, the comfort food, the entertainment value, the laughs, the sports. I’ll leave others to do the gastronomic voyage thing.”

    Asked for favourite memories, Yehia noted the club’s bikini contests. “But the contest that was most interesting was the one to become a judge. The way men would reduce themselves to puddles on the floor to become a judge was really quite funny–and of course the beachside service.”

    The latter lasted the summer of 1987, before the city shut the initiative down. “That was tremendous. If you can imagine, you’re on the beach and somebody comes and promises to deliver you some food.”

    Chris Finn, who has worked as operations manager of the food division at Malone’s for the last four years, said his favourite memory is the first time he rode the mechanical bull. “It was the first summer I was there, and they brought it in for the Canada Day long weekend,” he said. “I ended up with the longest time of customers and staff.”

    He’ll miss the location most, he said. “You’d go in there, do your open, get off work at 4, and it’s still a gorgeous day you can enjoy on the patio.”

    Yehia, who also owns the Malone’s Downtown as well as the Cambie Hostel and Pub, maintains ownership of the operation’s liquor license. He’d like to find a home in the area for a new Malone’s. “I don’t think there are locations as good. But we hope to reinvent ourselves as something else that maybe doesn’t have the beach next to it but maybe has something else.” He wants to keep the Malone’s brand in the West Side. “There’s something about a sports bar with good will and a great reputation that really works well in that community.”

    The restaurant is going out with a bang–with two private parties, one on Halloween night and another Nov. 1. Meanwhile, the restaurateur has big plans for the next Malone’s.

    “I’d like to do a Jell-o boxing ring, and then have contests who gets to actually wrestle in the ring. The Malone’s brand is about fun, and that’s what I really like to promote. And, if the regulations allow, I’d like to do the Velcro suit or sumo wrestling.”

  4. darren says:

    what is replacing it?

    in my mind, this is long overdue….very long overdue.

  5. J. Morgan says:

    It’s about time. The Malones’ site was in desperate need of an dramatic overhaul for sometime. I was tired of seeing their rodent infested dumpster overflowing onto Cornwall. Let’s face it, the demographic of Kitsilano has changed over the years, where the average condo value is now 550K+ and rents 1000+. There’s plenty of low to mid range restaurants available in the hood, what is needed is a more elegant and sophisticated restaurant/wine bar (I vote for Northern Italian with a courtyard) that will be supported by neighborhood locals year round.

    Unfortunately The Watermark, which was supposed to fill this niche, missed the mark. Their food is mediocre and over priced, service dreadful and ambiance chilly. So I for one am delighted to see a redevelopment of the former Malones site.

  6. Carl Flood says:

    I was a young bus-boy at Senor Frogs. What a blast! I still remember the names of some friends.: Adolpho, Glenn, a really sassy blonde waitress with a scratchy voice, and a really gay waiter with big muscles. Beauties in bikinis, drunk, wealthy men dancing on tables. Fun times…

    Carl Flood