Pluto's Diner relocating to San Remo site after three decades in former service station

After 33 years on Cook Street, Brun Dahlquist is getting ready to pack up Pluto’s Diner — and that famous neon sign — and rocket north to Quadra Street Village.

He expects to open in late April in the former San Remo Restaurant space at 2709 Quadra St., just off Hillside Avenue.

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“It’s been quite a run here,” Dahlquist said Tuesday. “You know you’ve been doing this a long time when you’re serving three generations of the same family.”

Pluto’s has been on notice to move for more than two years after the property’s owner, 66 Developments Ltd., advanced plans for a 15-storey condominium tower on the site.

Dahlquist was given a one-year reprieve last year, but confirmed he had signed a lease for the San Remo restaurant site last month. Dino Petropoulos ran San Remo for decades, renovating the patchwork building a number of times before closing a little over a year ago.

For Dahlquist, it’s a perfect place for a fresh start.

“I’m really happy about getting this spot and being in Quadra Village,” he said. “The past year and a half, not knowing about the current location and where we would go … between that and COVID, I wasn’t getting much sleep at night.

“It’s exciting to bring back a place that was really hot in its day.”

The new location has pre-pandemic seating for about 80, as the narrow building with an unassuming storefront stretches back through two rooms and a patio that seats 12.

Dahlquist anticipates closing the Cook Street location in March and taking about three weeks to relocate kitchen equipment, some of the artwork, that notable neon sign and “the soul of the place” to Quadra Street.

Dahlquist is leaving his unique venue with mixed feelings.

Pluto’s was built from a former Pacific 66 service station from the early 1960s, with an angular outside canopy and garage doors painted in bright colours.

It was converted initially to the Armadillo Restaurant and operated a short time before Dahlquist and partner Robert Chung took over and changed the name to Pluto’s. Chung retired a year ago.

“The secret to longevity? Well, the people usually make the place. It’s always had a good atmosphere and just great food,” said Dahlquist.

He said the menu of eggs ­bennies, burgers and pastas won’t change, but regulars might notice some of the ­original items from the early days back on the menu.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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