When I was a kid growing up in Vancouver, Frank Baker’s Attic loomed larger than life: a treat almost too huge to comprehend. It wasn’t a kid’s place but, to be fair, there weren’t many of those then, in the era before Chuck E. Cheese. Vancouver had already been graced by the golden arches and Ronald McDonald by that point, but it wasn’t a stop my family was likely to make.
Frank Baker’s was different. Looking back, it seems to me that Frank Baker’s was poised at the very entrance to North Vancouver, but I know that can’t be right. And it appeared to my small eyes to seat about a million people, though my recent research proves otherwise. Still: a restaurant that seats 1200 is large, by anyone’s standards, then or now.
I remember a mock tudor facade, a lot of Tiffany-style lamps, something about a car and the food. Miles and miles of food. I wish I could remember what the food was, precisely. But I can only recall that there was an endless amount of it and that it was good. At least, the memory of the child I was tells me it was good. Maybe even better than that. It wasn’t a buffet, though. Rather it was something infinitely more exotic: a smorgasbord, though I recall nothing especially Scandinavian about it.
For years, I had thought about Frank Baker’s Attic absently, almost as though it were something I’d dreamed up. A recent bout with boxes from my past proved otherwise. I vaguely remember sitting for the silhouette portrait I’ve included here: I don’t think it took very long. The likeness is good, though, or as good as it needed to be.
I have a vague recollection of driving home, my stomach full and this impossible treasure clutched in my hands. Thanks from Frank himself -- a million of them -- and a plea to return. (Did I ever? I’m not sure.) And the odd statement: “The Attic has been called the world’s second most unusual restaurant.” A claim like that could leave one breathless. What, pray tell, was the first?
The Attic is gone. I’m not quite sure what happened. A poke at the web told me Frank Baker died in 1991, but I gather his magnificent restaurant did not last even that long. He’s been included in the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame (who even knew there was such a thing?) but there is no word of what happened to the Attic, the car, the silhouette artist. Or all those lamps.
How many silhouettes remain, though? Mine can’t be the only one.