Tevie Smith is really a 75 12 months restauranteur that is old claims to own brought the very first pizza to Vancouver when you look at the 1950s
Steve Bosch/Vancouver Sun / The Vancouver Sun
Vancouver – Tevie Smith, 75, is sitting at an outdoor patio dining table to start with and Cypress holding court about the sexcapades of their buddy Wilt Chamberlain, the giant rumbles at their drive-in restaurant in Richmond when you look at the 1960s and just how he brought the initial pizza ovens to Canada into the belated 1950s.
«don’t think a term he states!» she laughs.
Tevie smiles right right back, then gets back once again to rotating their tales. And trust in me, you will find great deal of those.
Tevie – everybody calls him Tevie – is among the characters that are great Vancouver. He is been a restaurateur, a bouncer and a rounder, some guy who is been a fixture in some areas of Vancouver tradition considering that the very early 1950s.
perhaps perhaps Not high tradition, mind.
«He’s the very last associated with Damon Runyon figures,» claims one of is own earliest buddies, Basil Pantages.
«they can easily fit in anywhere, and merge with all the most readily useful of them, because he comes down with that cheesy ‘I would like to get acquainted with you’ feeling.»
Also if you do not understand Tevie, you have noticed him. He is the man whom parks their old woody wagon, a 1947 Chrysler Town and nation, from the road by Kits Beach. With a few russian bride catalog steamer trunks tied up down on top and sides made from rotting lumber, the vehicle is difficult to miss.
Old automobiles are one of is own interests. He has four convertibles – a 1964 Thunderbird, ’65 Corvair, ’65 Mustang, and a ’66 Beaumont – in addition to a 1930 Model A Coupe, a 1934 Packard, and another ’66 Beaumont.
They may be the fruits of several several years of difficult labour.
«compose this down,» states Tevie, who’s having a birthday that is 75th for 200 during the Smoking puppy Bistro Sunday afternoon.
«It is an easy task to achieve success within the restaurant business. All you have to do is work 20 hours a time, seven days per week, 364 times per year. While the one you log off, Christmas time, you must get in and then make yes the freezers have not gone down. time»
He understands of just just what he talks, because he achieved it for quite some time. He began doing work for Nat Bailey at White place as he ended up being 13. After some duration later on he relocated to an accepted put called the Senator.
«we utilized working Friday evening, Saturday evening, rest on to the floor upstairs within the banquet space and fall and run your kitchen on my own on Sunday,» he recounts.
He originated from a family that is poor but an entrepreneurial one: their older brother Ascher founded the Smithrite trash collection business. «He began the organization by having a war-assets vehicle and $700 in veteran’s credits,» Tevie describes.
«He visited Ca on a vacation and saw Dumpster Dumpster. The town of Vancouver did not like to grab commercial trash, so he got to the trash company. Plus he was at the navy by having a other responsible for the PNE. The PNE hated the town, him the contract for the PNE trash. so that they provided»
Tevie did not make since money that is much Ascher, but he most likely had more enjoyable. He went to San Francisco to go to restaurant college after he graduated from high school in Kits in 1951. There he discovered pizza, that was all but unknown outside of the community that is italian.
He gone back to Vancouver after he graduated in 1955 and chose to take to a pizza concession out during the PNE.
«You understand where in fact the Coliseum is, well, that has been a roller coaster called the Giant Dipper. We offered pissa – since they did not even understand things to phone it – during the Roller Coaster for 19 cents a piece. And trust me, they took a bite from it after which tossed it at me personally. They don’t wish to consume that stuff. We accustomed chase them along the midway.»
Tevie’s claim to function as the person that is first offer pizza in Canada had been disputed by their old buddy Ross Fillipone regarding the Penthouse cabaret, whom recently passed on. Fillipone said he imported the very first pizza range into Canada for The Penthouse – and Tevie agrees. But he says Fillipone brought in the oven illegally, and Smith’s ovens had been Canadian guidelines Association authorized, so Smith had the initial pizza that is legal.
«These Mafia kinds – this can be a real story – owned the oven business, therefore the bread business that made the crusts. These people were driving an range as much as Montreal to have it authorized, because I experienced a trailer load of pizza supplies coming when it comes to PNE. I introduced 14 of those little countertop pizza ovens.
«these were planning to machine weapon these inspectors. They certainly were severe. ‘ What will you be dudes doin’? Place the stamp on!’ «
Tevie wound up starting up Vancouver’s very first pizza restaurant, The Snackery, at fifteenth and Granville. He additionally had Chipper’s Drive-In at # 3 path and Airport Method into the 1960s, when Richmond «was a bad, bad-ass destination.»
«night was fight night, there’d be 400 kids out in the parking lot,» he says friday. «It ended up being amazing.»
Tevie managed a lot of the action himself. Although he is just five base seven, he had been a weightlifter, and a fairly cookie that is tough weighing 250 pounds (113 kilograms) in the prime. (he is 165 now.) He invested years being a bouncer at many different places, such as the old disco hot spot Sugar Daddy’s.
«You possessed a battle,» he claims of bouncing.
«You beat some guy up, he beat you up, whatever, you understand?»
Both in restaurants and in bars – Moose McGillicuddy’s, the Arts Club on Granville Island, the Pink Pussycat in Gastown over the years he operated numerous eateries.
But many of their escapades revolve around his years at the guys’s Athletic Club on Hornby Street, that was within the exact same building as two nightspots, Charlie Brown’s and Sneaky Pete’s. It appears like there clearly was a party that is continuous on in today’s world, a celebration that Tevie along with his stock promoter buddies such as for example Herb Capozzi usually took on the highway.
«We took Tevie, that would fall in a truck that is big with wine. He’d place it up towards the top of the hill and provide champagne and products to everyone, while having a time that is hilarious everyone get bombed from their head and attempt to ski down. 50 % of them got lost in the exact middle of the woods.»
Baseball legend Wilt Chamberlain had been a typical at the guys’s Athletic Club as he stumbled on city, and he and Tevie became friends. Chamberlain endured seven base one ins tall, and stated he previously intercourse with 20,000 ladies. Tevie confirms that yes, indeed, Wilt The Stilt appeared to have real method with females, although their concept about exactly why is just a little too risquй for a family group paper.
Tevie had been as soon as hitched and contains three grown up children, but he is been a totally free agent for quite some time – he joyfully showcases a snapshot of his latest flame, who’s 35 yrs old. He is a charmer, with an endless availability of entertaining stories in regards to the hairdresser/prostitute whom utilized to your workplace Howe Street, the notorious loan shark/bouncer Jimmy Hill (who had been gunned straight straight straight down during the resort Georgia) while the popular stock promoter Murray (The Pez) Pezim.
It is possible to inform he’ll provide you with an excellent tale whenever he says «this really is from the record,» or «You probably can not print this.» Which takes place about every 10 moments within a 45-minute talk.
He retired through the restaurant company years back and today spends a lot of their hard work creating thrift shops for charities that look after pets, including the Wildlife save Thrift Store downtown.
He sorely misses their friend that is old Fillipone whom he played racquetball with every week. But in general, at 75, Tevie Smith is very content. He has household across from Kits Beach, he’s got their stable of collector automobiles, he has got their dogs. And their memories.
«Life is good,» he states. «Life is actually good.»