Beach-themed beer garden pops up in east end parking lot

The collaborative beach-themed beer garden and patio (complete with sand) offers contactless eats from local restaurants


If you’ve passed by Gerrard and Jones in the past few days, you may have spied a sizeable new patio decked out in orange beach chairs and patio umbrellas. Gerrard East Market (or GEM), which opened this week in the parking lot in front of 241 Pizza and Pho Com Tam 168, is a new collaboratively-run beer garden and patio with beach vibes to spare (sand included).

The space is open under the is a collaborative effort between local restaurants Vatican Gift Shop, Poor Romeo and Dive Shop (formerly Hotel Delilah), plus forthcoming cannabis store Two Cats Cannabis and PYMBO Investments, which owns the parking lot and adjacent strip mall.

The market was made possible by Toronto’s CafeTO program, which has temporarily loosened rules around patios and licensed outdoor spaces to allow for greater outdoor dining and social distancing during the pandemic.

The market has been in the works for several weeks, with the creators building out decks and filling a section of the parking lot with a truckful of sand:

Now that Gerrard East Market is up and running, there are 10 or so local restaurants supplying patio visitors with food and drinks, including Hype Food Co., Pinkerton’s and Yard Sale. (Pho Com Tam 168 and 241 Pizza deliver out front as well).

The restaurants have teamed up with homegrown restaurant ordering platform Ambassador, with QR codes for each restaurant attached to the tables for easy ordering and contactless payment. Once you’ve placed your order, the restaurant delivers your snacks and drinks to the beer garden.

With CafeTO opening up creative new options for outdoor serving spaces during the pandemic, it’s nice to see food businesses thinking out of the (sand)box.

The pop-up is open Thursday and Friday evenings and all day on weekends.

@nataliamanzocco

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