Calabria Bar is an Italian cafe on Commerical Drive.
My boyfriend and I had lunch at Calabria Bar yesterday. A good friend of mine recommended the place for its atmosphere and great coffee. We were delighted with the whole experience. The three brothers behind the counter were friendly, respectful and helpful. The one who makes the sandwiches was particularly friendly and chatted with us for a while. The ambience was charming, my espresso drink was perfect, the sandwich we shared ("Frank's Special") was delicious and the gelato was sublime. We had a very pleasant afternoon there and look forward to returning next time we visit Vancouver!
I have to say I agree with the previous reviewer. Too many people seem to think when they walk into a business they have full run of it. Sorry folks, you are wrong! Calabria Bar has been around for a long time with good reason.
People on Commercial Dr seem to think they can walk into a restaurant bringing their own food and/or drinks. Again, you are wrong. Yes, these establishments are here to cater to the public, providing good food, drink, & service, but at the end of the day each and everyone of these places are a business. Businesses are here to make money. I wish everyone will remember that the next time they enter one of these establishments with coffee/tea, etc... in tow. Also, these establishments provide tables & chairs outside for their paying customers. Not for you to grab a slice of pizza from across the street and sit at, while you are waiting for the bus. To top it all off, leaving your mess when your bus arrives! One more thing, you need to use their bathroom, purchase a bottle water at the very least. After all, they are the ones supplying you the water, toilet paper, paper towel, etc... Have some class people!
Here is a good way of looking at the situation. It's like entering someones home. It's their home, you respect it while you are visiting!
I have to admit still thinking about to my experience at this coffee shop I am still dumb founded.
I ordered a panini sandwich to go and had it grilled. I paid for it before hand before leaving the cafe, and went across the street to buy a blended coffee which they didn't have.. When I came back to pick up my sandwich they told me basically to take a hike. The owner continued to lecture me and tell me to learn some manners and that I shouldn't have bought a beverage somewhere else evcen though i was only there to pick up my sandwich that i already had paid for. He wouldn't return my money and told me to leave.
Still in shock, I stepped outside and told my girlfriend what had happened. She was so upset she went back in and demanded my money. They tried to play dumb and not give us back our money. After a brief argument, they finally gave my money back. These folks at Calabria have a serious personality and lack of customer service issue.
I will never go there again and for as long as I live I will tell everyone the same.
After being a faithful customer for a long time, one morning I was having my coffee. I had also introduced several friends to this coffee bar, and knew the staff somewhat. Next door is an excellent bakery and I had purchased an item because their baking was a lot better than Calabria's. So as I discretely munched on this with my coffee I was informed by the owner that I could not do this. I thought well ...if I have been a customer here for a long time, etc., that he could have been a little more polite. I would not go back again until the owner gets a notion of how to treat a customer. This comment is also reflected in another review of this restaurant about being badly treated by staff. I will not be back....
Recently myself and a couple of friends were looking for a coffee house to do some work and enjoy drinks and some food. We had heard good things about Calabria and choose this place over the many others in the Commercial area.
First impressions were good and we found a table by the back were we could set up the laptop and enjoy the afternoon. However, the back of the restaurant was dark so we turned on a light by the wall and moved our table a foot towards it. This quickly attracted the attention of one of the guys behind the counter who came over, turned out the light and rudely told us to move the table back. He made a comment to the affect that we should have asked before moving the table (a foot in a deserted corner of the restaurant??) and should have chosen another table were it was brighter (but which was too small for three of us with papers and a laptop to order drinks and a snack).
I can understand an establishment not wanting tables blocking aisles or getting in the way of other customers but this was clearly not the case. Even if it was so I would expect to be talked to politely and a compromise reached. This was obviously an example of someone having a bad day. However, it left such a sour taste in our mouths that we left to find another place (which wasn't hard on Commercial drive).
I wanted to write the owner to give him a chance to apologize but couldn't find the company's web site. Maybe if they see this comment they can use this forum to set matters straight. But until then I will not be returning and will not hesitate to tell others about my experience there. Ambiance: good until we talked to a waiter. Food: Didn't stay around long enough... Overall: Will not be returning.
Stopped in here as we needed a break from walking along the Drive and we had the Entertainment book coupon. It was about 1:30 on a Saturday and the place was packed. But we're not totally sure why. The coffee and biscotti didn't seem like anything special. It's as good as you'll get at any other independent shop.
What was really odd is that they didn't post any prices on their menu boards. Is it really that everyone is a regular and just doesn't have to ask? They also didn't indicate what sizes they had for drinks. Really really odd. A mocha and biscotti was $7.00, (half off with the coupon).
It's an interesting place to sit down for a snack and some caffeine while on the drive, but without the coupon, it can't justify the price (or lack thereof). Especially since the Drive seems to be infested with an innumerable number of coffee shops.
They say that La Calabria is an institution on the drive, whether or not you like their service or attitude.
I know that I've reviewed this joint before but couldn't resist posting Vinny's bio.
People have always wondered about the guys at La Calabria, hope this pop's to mind next time you're ordering a panini from Vinny (aka Flesh Gordon II).
This place is different than most in Vancouver. You need to engage the service a bit in order to get engaging service. They're not there to draw you out of your shell.
Good value on the paninis, good family atmosphere. It looks brilliant on the inside - great atmosphere. Nice place for something different and something authentic without heading downtown for something expensive.
Very traditional though - cash only, no soy (I'm a lactard, not a yuppie...)
Its one of my favourite places in the city, and I never fail to stop for coffee when I'm on the Drive. Reading some of the negative reviews below makes me chuckle. Personally, I'm not a fan of the chain restaurant, Starbucks et al mentality, and any patron who thinks they should have the right to bring food from another cafe in here is the one with "rudeness" issues. The coffee is great, there's an excellent selection of ice creams. Pastries are above average, and the panini's are just average. The real strength is in the coffee and the people watching. If you want the corporate sterility of Starbucks, go there. There's one right across the street.
I've been to Cafe Calabria many times, and though I've only tried the coffee and the gelato, I've never been disappointed. The atmosphere is friendly, and very Drive-esque, and the gelato is some of the most rich, luxurious I have ever tasted. While it can be quite pricey, it's worth it for the food and the atmosphere. It's a great place just to get together with friends to catch up and enjoy your time.
I just came from Calabria and enjoyed my coffee (which is still hot even now!) and felt compelled enough to sit down and write a review. A rare occasion for me. I am shocked to see poor reviews! weird.
I just started drinking coffee again and have been trying to find the most reliably delicious and hot enough one. This is a remarkably difficult thing to find. It is so disappointing to get a poor one. But the Calabria is consistently awesome. Really amazing. And hot enough without having to ask for it to be extra hot, like I have to everywhere else. I would highly recommend them.
The other reviews of poor service are a big surprise to me because I have always found them great: friendly, accommodating, down to earth, welcoming. I have been going there on and off for years.
Besides, when it comes to coffee, I would prefer to have great coffee and ignore the service, rather than good service and crappy coffee.
(There are quite a few of the poor reviews that sound very similar, I wonder if they are by the same person?)
I don't know what's with all the bad reviews on here - I love this place! Great coffee, great food, and the people who work there have never been anything less than wonderful to me. As for the darker haired man that people on here seem to have a problem with - he's always super nice and accommodating to me, and the people I go in there with. Just because you're customer doesn't mean you automatically get to act how you want, or automatically get respect - you get it when you give it, it's a two way street. Anyway, I love this place, and I highly recommend trying the macaroons - they're to die for! Don't let the reviews below scare you off!
I have been going to Calabria Bar for years. The resaons are the ambience, the coffee, the food, and importantly, the service. Frank, Frank, Nick, and Vinny say "hello" and "goodbye" to every customer. If you introduce yourself, they remember your name. They serve high-quality coffee, other drinks, and hand-made sandwiches and anti-pasti dishes.
You get your espresso or other coffee within a very short time. In Calabria, you don't have one person to take your order, one person to make the coffee, and a third to give you the coffee. Two hands do it all, in express fashion.
Frank the elder spent years perfecting the taste of his coffees and he permits no compromise on quality.
Yes, the Murdoccos are quirky. But they are genuine people who want you to enjoy the stay in their business. And that is the beauty of the place. It is unique. There's no TV blinking at you, and there are plenty of artists and writers, business people, moms and kids to talk to, no snobbishness in this place. And they are open 365 days a year.
I only wish there were more establishments who had a "no outside food" rule. Maybe that would raise the overall standards of things we put in our mouths.
To those who think it is rude to be told that they have to order something when they go to a restaurant --- wake up! It's not a public park, its a place of business. When you go to a movie do you tell the person at the ticket booth that you don't really want to watch the film you're just there to hang out with your friend? Those seats are for paying customers.
The family that runs the place are not arrogant. They just know someone who wants a free ride. You cannot expect respect when you disrespect them by thinking that you can just hang out at a restaurant without buying something.
The panninis are great. Where else are you going to get a sandwich like that for $6?
As well, the coffees taste like they're supposed to. People are so used to drinking garbage that when they do have the real thing they don't realize that coffee isn't supposed to taste bitter or acrid.
HAving read the reviews I have to agree they are arrogant and rude at times. My sister who goes all the time was eating and drinking there one time when they owner got mad at my other sister as she did not order. She only came in to meet my other sister. He did not like that. We have gone when he is so rude and other times when he is so nice. The blond son is arrogant and other times he is ok. He is great to my mom. If you can get beyond the changing attitudes and sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and people watching it is great. Good lattes, gelato, italian cookies etc.
For me, it's THE coffee shop in Vancouver. You don't get it if you are looking for a "conventional" service like starbucks here.
The service is really coming from the "family-like" experience of knowing the owners with a first name basis, them knowing what you like to drink and about knowing the familiar faces you see in the coffee shop.
The coffee is great, one of the best in Vancouver.
the Coffee is good but food was average. The Panini sandwich didn't have awhole lot to it and is pricey.
The price is fair but what stood out was their serious lack of customer service. I am not suprise by some of these negative postings because they are all true.
Yes it is their establishment but that doesn't give them the right to treat customers poorly. In the end you are in the food and service industry. So act like it.
This place is the exact opposite of the coffee shop across the street - Continental. Now that is a great place. Coffee is very inexpensive - two mochas only cost $6. They too are a family ran business but they are not arrogant.
Cafe Calabria should take a page out of Continental's book and learn how to treat customers better.
With two new coffee shop that openned down the street - End Cafe and Waves, I hope they improve their customer service or risk losing long time customers.
My friends from Taiwan are obsessed with any and all things Italian so when they came to visit me naturally I took them to Caffe Calabria. You don’t get much more Italian than that plus it is the best coffee in Vancouver. They were so impressed, not just with the coffee but the sandwiches and ice cream too. It was their favorite place to go while they were here. Thank you for helping make their visit to Vancouver unforgettable.
Calabria bar is heavy on the Italian decor, almost over the top, but the ambiance and service are exceptional for a cafe in Vancouver. This is a family run business and every time I have visited the service is efficient, friendly and without pretentiousness. The espresso and espresso-based drinks are made on two super-automatic machines which may turn off some coffee snobs, but they produce solid and consistent espresso which is better than that of many cafes in this city using semi-automatic machines. The gelato here is excellent for Vancouver. Full of the flavors they promise, no cloying sweetness and very smooth and creamy. Overall this is a great place to grab a snack and/or a coffee while enjoying the comfortable atmosphere.
My favourite place to hang out.
Apart from the friendly, personal service, genuine smiles, excellent coffee, great selection of cold beverages, great paninis, the following make this place even more appealing:
No big screen TV, this is not a sports bar
If you want internet cafe, sports bars, places that take every form of payment, then this is not the place for you. The sports bars and other types of cafe are a dime a dozen in this city. They stereotype each other to a point that is beyond boring.
The cash only thing is great. You place your order, one person takes care of the whole thing, and you don't wait around for some electronic device to tell the customer whether or not he/she is able to pay.
I have been to the internet cafes, where if you just want a beverage and to hang out, it is nearly impossible to find a seat. Most people spend a couple of bucks on a beverage and hog the seats for hours on end, so that genuine paying customers cannot get a seat. If this is your idea of fun, then you are welcome to the 99% of the cafes in this city.
Calabria has been this way for years and years, and it is not going to change. And no, they will not go out of business because they refuse to accept credit cards and cash cards. In fact, I would say that it is exactly the opposite. They attract a different, and a repeat clientele, that will help their business prosper for many years to come.
Most of the baked goods are made by the family. The sandwiches (paninis) are constantly made fresh, are full of good things and very tasty.
A wonderful place, great clientele, and run by a wonderful family.