Sale of Tosi’s sure to trigger new debate about heritage preservation in Chinatown

4585861 Tosi

Angelo Tosi in his domain. What next for Tosi’s? Vancouver Sun photo

It was bound to happen some day, but the For Sale sign on Tosi’s at 624 Main, the city’s oldest Italian deli in the heart of Chinatown, is certain to trigger new debate on heritage protection in one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods.

The Tosi family story is a remarkable one and Angelo Tosi was not quick to adopt new technology. His remained a “cash only” business. The building dates back more than a century and includes part of the original Woodwards store.

As the Vancouver Sun’s John Mackie made clear in this 2011 feature, Tosi’s is heritage inside and out, with original fixtures dating from the early years of the last century when Strathcona and Chinatown joined at Main St. in a community as diverse as you can find.

Hoggan’s Alley was two blocks south and the Japanese community just four blocks north. Let’s hope potential buyers are aware of the challenge they are taking on with this historic property. In his interview with Mackie, Tosi held out hopes for a density transfer or some other strategy to maintain what he had carefully protected for decades.