This is the store at the corner of our block. From the outside it looks like any other bodega, with the Pepsi sign and the lottery dealership, and the bars on the windows because we're so close to the Downtown Eastside, that troubled and fascinating neighbourhood about which I will surely write more. Benny's is the only commercial enterprise on our block, which is a mix of houses and townhouses. In the blocks around us are a few small apartment buildings, seniors housing, and art studios, but it's mostly just houses. I figured Benny's was a typical corner store, selling candy to students after school and single cigarettes the rest of the time.
Boy was I wrong. These pears are from Washington State, because BC pears haven't come in yet. The produce section is small, but consists largely of local produce lovingly displayed.
In addition to the six kinds of dijon mustard and the marinated asparagus tips shown here, you can get Ahmad English Tea #1, a pleasant afternoon blend to which we were introduced in New York (thanks, Twinski), when we were far from Murchie's. Benny's also offers sour cherry juice, home-made cream-filled doughnuts, a deli counter and a selection of prepared foods for those nights you can't face cooking. I've had the Italian grilled cheese for lunch every day this week, and see no reason to change.
Another nice aspect of the place is the variety of people in there. Because of all the renovation and new construction in the neighbourhood, there are plenty of plumbers and framers around. They seem to have chosen Benny's as their lunch spot. A woman with multiple tattoos who drives a post office truck for a living (it's a chatty place) and a couple of realtors in high heels were choosing sandwiches yesterday. Since it's Canada, the fact that there isn't really room for a line doesn't matter. Everyone just remembers who was there first, and cedes in order. We're working on remembering that.