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2 Jays Cafe

Johnny Jay finds his classic spot in 1965 and puts up the red cut-out-lettered name sign 2 JAY'S CAFE on a Coca-Cola readerboard in the shadow of the Sun Tower. High walls, six chunky wood tables in the front, an arborite, big-boned, L-shaped counter with chrome-rimmed, rectangular stools and six voyage booths in the out-back room without décor or windows. Vancouver Sun's Jack Wasserman writes his late-night carouser columns in these big booths in the backroom, afternoons. The ghosts seem to linger in these vintage rooms with an earlier existence as a gambling joint called the Padlock Café, and a lengthy incarnation of fame and fortune as the popular Do Drop In Restaurant from about 1953 'til 1965. Set up and operated by Al and Marie Principe, the well-known Italian pioneer clan. 'We always filled up at the 2 Jays,' says Susan, Johnny's daughter. 'We served hot plates of lunchtime meals, the main meal of the day.' John Jay always in early at five a.m.; open 7 'til 7'all week except Sunday. He bakes his own pies and then handles breakfast. His wife comes in at nine. Susan and her brother always come in after school to peel potatoes. A big everyday job. Grandma takes over when she finally arrives from China, doing them all from home. Susan and her brother always go to pickup supplies at H.Y.Louie Co. warehouse on Prior near the Old Georgia Viaduct. They pull their little red wagon through the neon-hatching streets, doing the loop back to the 2 Jays. The faithful Snow Lotus shimmers at the corner of Abbot. Chinatown awakes in the dusk.