From neighbourhood favourites to trendy upstarts and big franchises, a variety of eateries closed this year
In April, one half of Toronto restaurants didn’t think they would survive the pandemic.
It was difficult to keep up with the closures in our weekly roundups, but there were also a healthy number of openings. Of course, the restaurants that did open weren’t greeted by the most favourable dining landscape.
Despite stopgap measures like government relief and new takeout and delivery offerings, many Toronto restaurants and bars closed their doors for good during the pandemic.
The trend was Canada-wide. On December 16, Restaurants Canada said that since March 2020, 10,000 restaurants have closed across Canada. In Ontario alone, the sector has lost 19 per cent of jobs and 25 per cent in revenue since February, the industry group said.
The city’s culture is lacklustre without its restaurants and bars; those that have been lost will be sorely missed. Here is a list of Toronto restaurants that have closed so far during COVID-19.
The queer and trans-inclusive music/comedy bar and nightclub shut down in early May, along with its ground-floor restaurant.
The Queen West Argentinian supper club closed permanently in August.
It’s not goodbye forever for this iconic vegan pizza joint near Bloor and Christie. It had to close down, announcing on Twitter and Instagram in November that business the past six months was unsustainable. The restaurant is pulling back to regroup and planning to remodel the business.
This Filipino brunch spot closed its brick and mortar location in July but you can still order rotisserie for pick up and delivery.
The Little Italy bakery known for its birthday cakes closed at the end of September after 11 years. The space has since been taken over by another bakery: Barbershop Patisserie in Little Italy.
In October a notice from the landlord was put up on the door of the Eglinton location of Bar Buca, saying the company had been locked out of the building. The notice states that items from the restaurant will be removed and sold to pay off the rent if arrears are not paid.
The Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Liberty Village closed permanently, posting on Instagram that: “This devastating pandemic has forced our hand financially.”
After 14 years, the Queen West queer bar bid farewell with a series of pre-recorded and livestreamed performances late in July. Full story here.
The 44-year-old Kensington Market bar and club was a popular rental spot for private events. It became the latest live music venue to fall victim to the pandemic. Full story here.
The Danforth watering hole, a neighbourhood fixture, closed for good on October 9 after a 30-year run. In an interview with the Toronto Star, co-owner Clare Sturm said 90 per cent of business came from regular customers. The restaurant didn’t qualify for a curb-lane patio and takeout orders weren’t enough to keep things afloat.
This Gerrard and Greenwood cafe serving French inspired comfort food closed on August 30.
This critically acclaimed Yorkville restaurant closed on July 18. The owners announced the closure on Instagram and said the tiny restaurant above Bay Station “was purposefully built as a small and intimate space. This contradicts any reasonable expectations of moving forward given the guidelines for a safe reopening.”
The Queen West patisserie shut down in mid-May but sister store Butter Baker is still operating.
The Caddi has resurrected Cadillac Lounge’s beautiful Parkdale patio
The bar that took over the back patio of shuttered Parkdale live music venue Cadillac Lounge called it quits in September. It was a short-lived venture but it became a new stomping ground for neighbourhood residents to grab some BBQ, classic cocktails and cold beers while watching live performances or a catching a Raptors game. Full story here.
After 18 years, the iconic crepe spot at Queen and John closed.
In July, the laid-back Dundas West bar inspired by Yosemite National Park closed. According to an Instagram post, the closure was not COVID-related.
This Queen West fixture shuttered in July but has partnered with Après Wine Bar on pre-ordered meals. They decided not to extend their lease after four years.
The U.S. ice cream chain shut down its Queen West location in June.
The Kensington Market speakeasy closed after a decade of Sunday afternoon patio parties and post-concert hangouts. Fortunately, a second location on Queen West lives on. Full story here.
After 30 years of debauchery, the downtown dive bar shut down in early May.
The beloved St. Clair West pub threw in the towel in May after 10 years. “With prospects for a full restaurant and a sufficient level of business to cover my costs very unlikely for what could be a year or more to come… I have no choice but to call an end to this journey,” the bar’s owner wrote on Facebook.
After a decade the kefir shop closed their two locations, in the PATH and in Liberty Village in August.
This 13-year-old plant-based restaurant was locked out this week. A notice was left on the door that said the landlord terminated their tenancy.
The cottage-inspired Queen East cafe closed quietly in May.
The uptown location of this long-running patisserie closed in late May after 18 years.
This Danforth mainstay shuttered for good in August after five years.
After six years, this British gastropub in the Beaches closed. The building was taken over by Limon Restaurant, which opened in November.
The popular, family-run Latin American grocery store and snack shop that has been in Kensington Market for 30 years burned down in a fire in October. The damages are severe and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Patrons rallied to support the family with a GoFundMe that has raised $26,000 so far.
The famous diner’s Front Street location is closing on December 31 “after a long fought effort to remain open.”
Courtesy of Chinatown BIA
Outside of the main entrance of Furama Cake and Desserts Garden
The roti shop credited with inventing the butter chicken roti has closed after decades on Queen West. However, one of the business’s cooks is taking over the location, adding a new name and keeping some old recipes.
Toronto’s first Thai restaurant near St. Lawrence Market closed permanently after 20 years.
The Annex cafe, which also served as a fundraising arm for a group that denies the existence of climate change, shut down in mid-March after 10 years. The online store is still active.
After 13 years, the bar and music venue called it quits due to the financial effects of the pandemic.
This brunch spot near Danforth and Woodbine closed in October after five years.
The Hungarian eatery tucked away in Yorkville closed in November after three years in business. It served Eastern European takes on traditional brunch dishes, like poached eggs and hollandaise, palacsintas (Hungarian crepes), goulash soup and schnitzel sandwiches.
The College Street fixture for 61 years, beloved for its corner patio, closed after more than six decades in mid-May.
The Riverside cocktail bar announced in September it would serve the last round on October 24. They listed looming rent and an uncooperative landlord as reasons for the closure. Opened in 2015, the bar owned by sisters Natasha and Vanessa Smardenka was a recent but beloved addition to the Queen East neighbourhood.
The Vietnamese coffee and banh mi spot in Little Tibet, which closed in October, was an unassuming, laid-back fixture in the community.
Kit Kat’s middle finger ice sculpture during the King West Transit Pilot
The Entertainment District “Restaurant Row” original famous for giving an icy middle finger to streetcar riders on King closed after 31 years.
The lab-themed bubble tea spot has closed its Toronto location at Bay and Gerrard – though you can still visit them in Montreal.
This College Street gelateria closed in July.
The only Canadian location of the Japanese cheesecake brand, located on College, was evicted in May.
This spot for countless tacos and carne asada fries opened earlier this year and closed in December. Their flavours live on at Maizal and Seven Lives.
After 19 years on Dupont, this vegan restaurant closed in July. Full story here.
The Etobicoke restaurant closed in May after nine years. “We have no idea of how or when business operations will return to normal once COVID-19 regulations allow us to. We are also without guarantees that we will be able to pull through this while maintaining social distancing,” the owners wrote on Facebook.
This east end Chinese restaurant was a neighbourhood mainstay and closed on May 30.
Kensington Market lost this lively Caribbean joint spot known for fun parties in September. Maracas announced its closing on Instagram, saying “This is not goodbye.” The note says the restaurant had issues with the landlord and a neighbour.
This chain known for Cantonese pork buns closed the Roncesvalles and St. Clair locations.
The Mississauga pizza joint closed on Halloween but is relocating to a bigger space closer to the Mississauga-Oakville border. It’s one of the lucky businesses to be expanding during the pandemic.
This Entertainment District stalwart permanently closed in November. A popular spot all year round, and especially during TIFF, the Southern California-style restaurant struggled through the pandemic. In some good news: the bottle shop will remain open.
The Portuguese chicken chain’s Danforth location was shuttered due to non-payment of rent; shortly thereafter, the company announced it would shut 21 locations across Canada.
This family-owned jazz bar was a fixture in the Entertainment District for 25 years.
This popular diner at Broadview and Danforth shuttered after 16 years due to COVID-19. They were known for their breakfast.
NishDish chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette poses outside the restaurant in 2017.
After three years, the Indigenous cafe and marketplace has shut down its Christie Pits storefront, though the business will continue in a different form.
The Office Pub
A part of the Entertainment District for nine years, the owners claim they couldn’t afford to stay open because of a “greedy landlord.” They closed in September.
Another Danforth institution, the Old Nick had its final hurrah after 27 years in business. The queer-friendly pub relied on musicians and concert-goers attending shows at the Danforth Music Hall for a lot of business. Kristine Lukanchoff told the Star that she will never reopen because the debt became insurmountable.
This fixture on the Ossington strip known for low key, unpretentious atmosphere announced they would close on September 26. They said they were looking for a new location but there haven’t been any updates yet.
The Mexican restaurant closed down its King and John location at the end of April; the Kensington location remains in operation.
We reported on Pete’s closing back in September when the Parkdale diner’s landlord sold the building without telling the family. On October 18, they said goodbye to the restaurant – a community hub with affordable prices – after 10 years in business.
After several years on College, the greenery-filled cocktail and snack bar shut down in mid-June.
The last remaining location of the poutine joint – the subject of an employee walkout over “unsafe conditions” in 2017 – closed in June, with “for lease” signs appearing on the Queen West property.
The Queen East bar and restaurant, which shut down its Yonge and Eglinton sister location before the pandemic, closed for good in April.
The Annex sports bar was evicted by its landlord in mid-April.
After 11 years on Dundas West, the popular whiskey bar and party spot shut down in early May. Full story here.
This rustic, eastern Mediterranean eatery on Danforth closed permanently on December 7, after just over three years in business. In a heartfelt post they wrote: “While our hearts wanted to hang on and see this through, our heads asked us to consider the reality. In these times we wanted to remain hopeful, but the uncertainty of what comes next and when it will come was too much to bear for the future of our restaurant. We will leave having created many, many positive memories and friendships.”
After 27 years, this popular Toronto restaurant for Cantonese and Szechuan food has closed. A beloved restaurant for University of Toronto students on a budget and neighbourhood residents alike. Neil Wright, chair of the Harbord Street BIA confirmed the sad news, although it remains unclear if the closing is COVID-related or not.
The Corktown patisserie’s satellite location on Dovercourt – which only launched just before the pandemic – closed at the end of June.
Ten years in and this Riverside farm-to-table restaurant from award-winning chefs Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk is called it quits in October.
Sam James recently opened a location near Brock and Queen but it’s sad to see the location across from Trinity Bellwoods Park shutter. The local coffee chain announced the closure on December 5, but the neighbourhood has until December 24 to have one last coffee on the bench outside.
Yonge and St. Clair’s favourite soccer bar – also home to a rooftop patio – closed in June after 23 years.
Shogun Japanese Restaurant
This Yorkville sushi institution opened in 1978. The laid-back, cozy setting and dependable menu made it a neighbourhood go-to. It closed in October.
The popular Danforth tiki bar was seized by its landlord in April.
The gluten-free bakery shut down its its final remaining location (in Vaughn) in late June.
After two years on Dundas West, this Asian fusion resto-bar known for their neon interior design closed in September. Juice Box wine bar has taken over the space.
After nearly four decades in Toronto, including a move away from the original Mirvish Village location, the restaurant that introduced Cajun food to Toronto threw in the towel in early May.
The St. Clair West outpost of this popular brunch chain closed in September.
The Rolling Stones-themed bar on Queen West closed in late August after two decades. Full story here.
One of the city’s most celebrated new bars closed permanently due to COVID in October. It was an anti-waste bar from the team behind Trash Tiki.
The Yonge and Gerrard location of the popular rotisserie chicken chain is no more. It follows a troubling trend of established food retail businesses, like Starbucks, closing locations across the city. People assumed these larger businesses would weather the pandemic better than smaller ones.
This Filipino bakery in Scarborough, known for their empanadas and hopia (a stuffed, deep fried dessert), was only open a year before closing in November.
The Parkdale tavern is jettisoning its name and Eastern European-inspired menu for a new burger-and-pizza-focused concept called Gianna’s.
This local spot for Thai food in Roncesvalles closed after 15 years in business. There was no official statement made, but the space was vacated.
Courtesy of The Walton
Featured on our list of best hidden patios in the city, the Walton was a sophisticated and charming cafe and cocktail bar in Little Italy. They had their last hurrah in October.
The Bloor West restaurant closed after eight years. It was known for fried chicken, doughnuts and breakfast. In a goodbye message to all their supporters and staff they said, “Being off during quarantine and getting to spend so much time with our families has helped us to see what is really important in life.”
The Roncesvalles brunch restaurant closed in March after eight years.
This local resto-bar, just north of the Church-Wellesley Village, from the people behind The Oxley and the Queen and Beaver, shuttered in October.
The Kensington Market torteria closed their brick and mortar location and are now doing a pop-up at Milagro on Mercer. The Mexican griddled sandwiches are available for delivery and pick up.
Chef Suzanne Barr announced in July would be officially closing and would not be reopening. The Afro-Caribbean diner was open for less than a year.
The King West dive – and adjoining restaurant Tokyo Hot Fried Chicken – shut down at the end of April.
After 24 years, this beloved Annex spot closed in July. It was a destination for brunch and homey, comfortable vibes.
One of Toronto’s oldest pizzerias, this beloved family-run Junction spot shut down at the end of March.
This plant-based pizza and pie restaurant founded in Vancouver closed the Toronto location in June.
The Blue Jays Way restaurant was a go-to for pre- or post-game drinks for Toronto sports fans for 27 years. However, the building was sold to a condo development.
This Little Italy restaurant closed in August after 10 years. It was one of the city’s best spots for Canadian comfort food. Burger joint Harry’s Charbroiled has moved in.