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When Carl Heinrich abruptly left Marben shortly after the taping of the second series of Top Chef Canada, some industry insiders figured Heinrich must have won the yet-to-air cooking competition.
Why else would he leave a high-profile gig if not to use the momentum generated by the TV show to launch his own joint?
As the final episode of the Food Network ratings' champ revealed last week, Heinrich was in fact the ultimate victor. And, in an interview given before he headed for a victory lap of his native Vancouver Island, he took the opportunity to announce that he and ex-Marben and Cowbell butcher Ryan Donovan would be opening a resto called Richmond Station at Yonge and Richmond in August. Huzzah!
Problem is, there isn't a lot of restaurant space on that rather desolate downtown corner. On, there's a Sunset Grill in what used to be Kresge's (but that's not going anywhere) and a Taco Bell two doors down. But, unless Heinrich and Donovan are planning to reopen the cafeteria in the basement of Simpson's, there's not much available space in the area.
Except for the unfortunate resto at the back end of 1 Richmond West. Squeezed between the entrance to an underground parking garage on one side and the exit to an underground parking garage on the other, the 113-seat room has been home to several exceptionally unexceptional restaurants including the Purple Pig and most recently a Korean sushi spot called Yulla. It's also right next door to the Cloud Gardens where Occupy Toronto meet to plot the demise of Bay Street.
Fortunately for Heinrich, the new resto appears to need little work since the previous tenants left everything behind but the artwork on the walls (though they forgot the frames). Why pay some high-priced designer to make it look like a Tokyo back-street clone of Momofuku when it already does?