99 Toronto restaurants and bars we lost in 2020

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.

120 Diner & Club 120

The queer and trans-inclusive music/comedy bar and nightclub shut down in early May, along with its ground-floor restaurant.

Ama

The Queen West Argentinian supper club closed permanently in August.

Apiecalyspe Now

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.

BBs Diner

This Filipino brunch spot closed its brick and mortar location in July but you can still order rotisserie for pick up and delivery.

Bake Shoppe

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.

Bar Buca

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.

Barcelona Tavern

The Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Liberty Village closed permanently, posting on Instagram that: “This devastating pandemic has forced our hand financially.”

The Beaver

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 Boat

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.

Brass Taps Pizza Pub

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.

Brickyard Bistro

This Gerrard and Greenwood cafe serving French inspired comfort food closed on August 30.

Brothers Food & Wine

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.”

Butter Avenue

The Queen West patisserie shut down in mid-May but sister store Butter Baker is still operating.

@thecaddi

The Caddi has resurrected Cadillac Lounge’s beautiful Parkdale patio

The Caddi

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.

Café Crepe

After 18 years, the iconic crepe spot at Queen and John closed.

Camp 4

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.

Canis

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.

Cauldron Ice Cream

The U.S. ice cream chain shut down its Queen West location in June.

Cold Tea

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.

Crocodile Rock

After 30 years of debauchery, the downtown dive bar shut down in early May.

Dave’s…

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.

deKEFIR

After a decade the kefir shop closed their two locations, in the PATH and in Liberty Village in August.

Disgraceland

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 Dock on Queen

The cottage-inspired Queen East cafe closed quietly in May.

Dufflet Pastries

The uptown location of this long-running patisserie closed in late May after 18 years.

The Ellery

This Danforth mainstay shuttered for good in August after five years. 

The Elm Tree

After six years, this British gastropub in the Beaches closed. The building was taken over by Limon Restaurant, which opened in November.

Emporium Latino

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.

Fran’s Restaurant

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

Furama Cake and Dessert Garden

The beloved traditional Chinese bakery, a fixture in Chinatown for over 30 years, closed in October. Community members have put together a GoFundMe to help out-of-work employees.

Gandhi

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.

GarfieldEATS

The world’s first Garfield restaurant is no more. The pizza joint closed, citing disagreements with the landlord. It was only a year old but the team is trying to set up a ghost kitchen.

Golden Thai

Toronto’s first Thai restaurant near St. Lawrence Market closed permanently after 20 years.

Green Beanery

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.

The Hideout

After 13 years, the bar and music venue called it quits due to the financial effects of the pandemic.

Hollandaise Diner

This brunch spot near Danforth and Woodbine closed in October after five years.

Höm Cafe

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.

Il Gatto Nero

The College Street fixture for 61 years, beloved for its corner patio, closed after more than six decades in mid-May.

I’ll Be Seeing You

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.

Jason’s Coffee Shop

The Vietnamese coffee and banh mi spot in Little Tibet, which closed in October, was an unassuming, laid-back fixture in the community.

@KitKat_Toronto

Kit Kat’s middle finger ice sculpture during the King West Transit Pilot

Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill

The Entertainment District “Restaurant Row” original famous for giving an icy middle finger to streetcar riders on King closed after 31 years. 

Labothery

The lab-themed bubble tea spot has closed its Toronto location at Bay and Gerrard – though you can still visit them in Montreal.

L’Arc en ciel

This College Street gelateria closed in July.

LeTAO

The only Canadian location of the Japanese cheesecake brand, located on College, was evicted in May.

Libertad Cocina Mexicana

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.

Live Organic Food Bar

After 19 years on Dupont, this vegan restaurant closed in July. Full story here.

Luci

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.

Lucky Star

This east end Chinese restaurant was a neighbourhood mainstay and closed on May 30.

Maracas

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. 

Natalia Manzocco

Mean Bao

This chain known for Cantonese pork buns closed the Roncesvalles and St. Clair locations.

Mickey’s Pizza

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.

Montecito

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.

Nando’s

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.

N’Awlins Jazz Bar & Grill

This family-owned jazz bar was a fixture in the Entertainment District for 25 years.

New York Cafe

This popular diner at Broadview and Danforth shuttered after 16 years due to COVID-19. They were known for their breakfast.

Natalia Manzocco

NishDish chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette poses outside the restaurant in 2017.

NishDish

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.

The Old Nick Pub

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.

The Ossington

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.

Pancho y Emiliano

The Mexican restaurant closed down its King and John location at the end of April; the Kensington location remains in operation.

Pete’s Corner Grill

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.

Pickle Barrel

Even chain restaurants are feeling the brunt of the pandemic. The Yonge and Dundas location of Pickle Barrel is permanently closed.

Plentea

The Parkdale tea spot closed on May 31 after four years. The company’s online store is still active.

Natalia Manzocco

Pray Tell

After several years on College, the greenery-filled cocktail and snack bar shut down in mid-June.

PrettyUgly

After being locked out by the landlord and trying (unsuccessfully) to reach an agreement, the Grant van Gameren-owned cocktail bar threw in the towel for good in late June.

Poutini’s

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.

Prohibition

The Queen East bar and restaurant, which shut down its Yonge and Eglinton sister location before the pandemic, closed for good in April.

The Puck

The Annex sports bar was evicted by its landlord in mid-April.

The Red Light

After 11 years on Dundas West, the popular whiskey bar and party spot shut down in early May. Full story here.

Rikkochez

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.”

River Tai

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.

Roselle Desserts (West)

The Corktown patisserie’s satellite location on Dovercourt – which only launched just before the pandemic – closed at the end of June.

Ruby Watchco

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 Coffee Bar Park

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.

Scallywags

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. 

Shore Leave

The popular Danforth tiki bar was seized by its landlord in April.

Sorelle & Co.

The gluten-free bakery shut down its its final remaining location (in Vaughn) in late June.

Natalia Manzocco

SoSo Food Club

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.

Southern Accent

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.

Starving Artist

The St. Clair West outpost of this popular brunch chain closed in September.

Stones Place

The Rolling Stones-themed bar on Queen West closed in late August after two decades. Full story here.

Supernova Ballroom

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.

Swiss Chalet

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.

Taste of Empanadas

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.

Tennessee Tavern

The Parkdale tavern is jettisoning its name and Eastern European-inspired menu for a new burger-and-pizza-focused concept called Gianna’s.

Thai Chef

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

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 White Brick Kitchen

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 Westerly

The Roncesvalles brunch restaurant closed in March after eight years.

The Wickson Social

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.

Torteria San Cosme

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.

True True Diner

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.

Underground Garage

The King West dive – and adjoining restaurant Tokyo Hot Fried Chicken – shut down at the end of April.

Universal Grill

After 24 years, this beloved Annex spot closed in July. It was a destination for brunch and homey, comfortable vibes.

Vesuvio

One of Toronto’s oldest pizzerias, this beloved family-run Junction spot shut down at the end of March.

Virtuous Pie

This plant-based pizza and pie restaurant founded in Vancouver closed the Toronto location in June.

Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant

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.

Woodlot

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.

Comments (8)

  • Denis Robert December 23, 2020 10:28 AM

    This list would be more useful if it made clear which were closed due to the pandemic, and which were simply closed because they were on the chopping block already. For example, the Restaurant Row instances were already known to be dying, due to other factors (lack of effort, over-pricing, and pressure from condo developers to name a few). Gretzky’s had nothing to do with the pandemic, and is due to the other pandemic affecting Toronto, the Condo Tower infection.

    2020 is a sad year for restaurants, but places like KitKat closing down won’t make me shed a tear. Finger right back at you, Carbone.

  • Joe Andely December 23, 2020 11:21 AM

    Have only eaten in 8 of them

  • Kyle December 25, 2020 03:13 AM

    More than a few had been up for sale prior to Covid or closed for other reasons. It’s inaccurate to lump all closures together.

  • Dr Steven December 26, 2020 11:09 AM

    Very classy Xmas wishes at a time when people and businesses are truly suffering,, just because you may have some gripe here why don’t you shove it up your big pie hole and go order a Big Mac,,, Mack,,,,

  • Andrew December 26, 2020 12:53 PM

    Great article! However, The Elm Tree was a Mediterranean restaurant on Elm Street in downtown Toronto. It closed in the summer and its owners opened up a new Middle Eastern restaurant in the Beaches in November. Please correct this in your article. Thanks!

  • Dorna December 26, 2020 12:53 PM

    Completely inaccurate information about The Elm Tree! As the name suggests, it was on Elm Street in downtown. It was a middle eastern restaurant. They now have opened a location on the beaches called Limone. Correct your article please!

  • Lorraine Gale December 26, 2020 03:09 PM

    Also The Palace on Pape at Danforth, a long-time family-owned Greek restaurant. Although their website suggests they are still open, phoning them reveals they are gone, unfortunately.

  • Nigel Napier-Andrews January 3, 2021 11:13 PM

    A sad list and sorry to see several of my favourites gone but not forgotten. You might have added: EVOO, at Av and Dav, closed; Mistura, at Dav and Av, closed.

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