Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts
Most people know that the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts is an award-winning culinary school, but are not aware that it is also a nice venue to host your wedding or events. Situated at the entrance to Granville Island, the venue has lots of things for your guests to do and looks out over the water.
Although the entrance into the venue is flat and easily maneuverable for your mobility challenged guests or for your vendors to load in equipment or to decor, parking is a bit far away. Parking is free in the next building over, which is very nice to have when it comes to Granville Island. Parking is limited though and the walk from the parking lot to the culinary arts building entrance is long enough to be difficult for mobility challenged guests to walk to. You will defiantly need an umbrella in the rain. There is also not a convenient spot to drop off guests that is close to the entrance.
There is little bistro off to the left with the main entrance to the right. Inside the main entrance, there is a fully stocked bar to the left. The room is long and bit narrow. There is still room to set up two rows of tables and guests will still have the room to move around. There are different configurations as to how the room can be set up. There can be full seating with dinner tables or tall cocktail stand up tables as well as other configurations.
Your DJ or entertainment is often set up at the back of the room. I would highly recommend along the far back end of the wall so that the main speakers are pointed down the length of the room. This may be difficult however as there is a long cabinet there and the staff seem to need to access it during the evening. That is something difficult for them to do when a DJ table and set up is on that spot. Often the DJ is set up along the side wall which means the speakers are aimed at the width of the room and not the length.
If it is important to your function to have music or speeches heard throughout the venue, say cocktail or dinner music for example, it would be best to arrange to have your entertainment provide extra speakers in the middle or the back area of the room that is away from where the DJ is setup. A wireless speaker setup would work but of course, would be an extra expense.
Being a culinary school, you can expect the food to be delicious. The staff are very adept at making delicious, eye pleasing food and drinks. I am sure they would be great at making custom orders as well, including wedding cakes.
The staff are also quite attentive to the guests as well as you vendors. They are friendly, efficient and quite helpful. Many of them are students at the school and the events are a great way for them to gain expertise in the industry.
Another positive feature of this venue is that there does not seem to be an adversity to overtime. Since the whole building is part of the school, there are no restrictions on the volume of the music and the manager seems to be fine with later extended times at the venue. As a DJ, I have seen this be a problem at many other Vancouver venues. Especially restaurants or venues that are close or attached to apartment buildings or in residential areas.
Overall, the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts has a lot of perks like great food and drink, nice décor, very little noise and minimal party time restrictions as well as being down by Granville Island near the water. Still, difficulty of getting music throughout the room, parking distance from the building and lack of drop off area close to the building motivate me to give this venue 4.3 out of 5 stars.