Nelson the Seagull

"Bread and coffee. That pretty much sums up what we are all about. At least it should, if you have the same romantic visions of how bread and coffee should be done as we do."



Nelson the Seagull was opened by a talented group of friends from South Africa that took a huge room and built it into their living room; welcoming people in to taste their delicious bread and coffee.

The cafe is located in the Rainier Hotel heritage building in Gastown which was restored in 2011. The restoration work was done on a tight budget which allowed some of the most endearing elements in the space to be retained as explained in this Globe & Mail article:

"The plaster coffered ceiling discovered under the old drop ceiling was simply patched up. Mr. McGinn also convinced B.C. Housing that instead of replacing missing or damaged tiles on the floor, holes should simply be patched, creating a Greek ruins look. They may have been money-saving measures, but the overall effect is an old-world era feel that would have been lost if the room had been gutted and completely rebuilt."

Nelson the Seagull's menu revolves around their rustic home-made bread that is mixed and shaped by hand in their open air kitchen at the back of the cafe. Slices of bread are paired with simple, yet delicious combinations: Poached eggs, avocado, butter and jam which are both prepared in the kitchen...

They currently are using coffee from Matchstick Coffee Roasters with espresso drinks made on their Rancilio. They also offer pour over and cold brew coffee. 

Nelson the Seagull's space is also used to host a weekly yoga session & dinner along with other special events that are announced through their Twitter feed.  



Shop Trivia

  • The photo behind the counter is a photo of a young Nelson Mandela boxing. The cafe is named after the song "The Seagull's Name Was Nelson" which was used to rally support for Mandela while he was imprisoned.
  • The Rainier Hotel was a three story hotel built in 1907 in Gastown by architect Emil Guenther:
"By 1913, the complex housed not only the hotel but also a taxicab office, cafe, barber shop and billiard room - all catering to the largely male population. Unlike many hotel complexes in the area, the Rainier continued to house the same types of businesses until the 1970s, when the main floor was turned into a night club."

The province of British Columbia purchased the hotel in 2009 and renovated the building which also provides social housing on the upper floors.

  • The lights in the space are from Oculo Modern Pendant Lights from Niche Modern which are hand blown in New York. And the "crinkled" ceramic cups are created by Dutch artist Rob Brandt since he came up with the design in 1975. There is also a glass version of the cup available.
  • Opened May 31, 2011.   
  • The antique drawers near the counter is dubbed the "Broken Hearts Repair Club" and is the community mailbox where regulars can receive notes from friends or anonymous strangers.



Nelson the Seagull | | 315 Carrall Street, Vancouver V6A 0A7 | 604-681-5776

Monday - Friday 8AM - 5PM

Weekends 9AM - 5PM


Social, Links, Interviews

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Gastown:  Q&A with Jodi Balfour from Nelson the Seagull

"We struggled to find somewhere that wasn't a restaurant and satisfied our cozy-lazy-comfy craving. And so... We began talking about the kind of place that would. That conversation planted the seed and everything else just seemed to follow really naturally."


Scout Magazine: “Nelson The Seagull” Gets Set To Open On Carrall In Gastown

WE Vancouver:  The Seagull has landed in Gastown

Sarah Blondin created a promotional video for Nelson the Seagull's weekly yoga session and dinner called "Yoga Eat Repeat":