Here are the restaurants and bars what opened and closed between December 1-8, including the Sam James Coffee Bar on Queen West
Toronto restaurants and bars rallied together this weekend to criticize the partnership between the LCBO and SkipTheDishes.
The deal was announced on December 4 and by December 6, the government-run liquor corporation pressed pause at the request of Premier Doug Ford and provincial finance minister Rod Phillips.
Marben, the farm-to-table haven on Wellington announced it was severing ties with SkipTheDishes. On December 7, the restaurant posted on Instagram: “Skip the Dishes has shown little regard for small businesses through their attempted partnerships with the Beer Store and LCBO. As such, we no longer feel it’s appropriate to support them as a delivery partner and will be looking for new delivery options in the coming days.”
Beer, wine and cocktail kit sales are helping struggling restaurants and bars keep the lights on – and even that’s not enough for some local spots.
For the Dundas West bar Swan Dive, takeout alcohol and food wasn’t enough to stay afloat. The owners posted a call-out on Instagram, asking people to buy the rest of their beer stock. Within the week the entire stock was bought out and they made enough money to cover rent and go into a prolonged “hibernation” for a couple months.
Here is what opened and closed the week of December 1-8.
The Parkdale offshoot of Paris Paris, this wine bar is temporarily closing. With and unassuming atmosphere and a killer wine list, it quickly became a go-to in the neighbourhood. They stated on Instagram that they’re just not cut out for bottle shop life. However, Extra Burger is still open.
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.
Swan Dive posted on Instagram that operating costs were too high to continue as a bottle shop. They plan on potentially organizing pop-ups during their COVID hiatus.
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.”
Taking over Bar Piquette’s kitchen, Crosley’s is making meals available to order every weekend in December. Their own spot on Ossington will open soon, but in the meantime their temporary home is in the Queen West wine bar. Meals are $55 per person and the menu includes oat and brown butter hotcakes, cod and kohlrabi tartare with romesco verde and pork shoulder with cauliflower, cabbage and mulberry.
Jollibee’s much buzzed about downtown location is finally opening on December 13 at 355 Yonge. It was announced in April 2019 and anticipation has been high ever since. Expect (socially distanced) lineups; when the Scarborough location opened in 2018 and some people waited up to nine hours to try the Filipino-style spaghetti and fried chicken.
This new East York pizza joint also sells burgers, ribs, wings and souvlaki. A one-stop shop for all your cravings. They’re open for takeout and are available on Uber Eats.
A “COVID survival project” coffee shop created by Nancy Silverman called Two Hot Babes opened in Bloordale inside of Wenona Craft Beer Lodge. (The other hot babe is her dog, Penny Lane.) They sell De Mello pour over, assorted teas and hot cider. They opened after losing work and struggling financially in the wake of the pandemic. From their website: “They are not coffee impresarios or business moguls… they’ve put their heads together to bring you a coffee shop that makes a mean cup, in hopes you can help them pay for their lives. It’s not fancy, it’s dire.”
A new burger joint touched down on Danforth. They serve all the classics like bacon cheeseburgers and also a crispy chicken sandwich with coleslaw, sweet pickle and their signature spicy garlic mayo.
From Bar Mordecai on Dundas West comes this “fictional” family restaurant. Available for delivery only, they serve traditional red sauce Italian favourites. Approachable comfort food like pomodoro bucatini, penne arrabiata, spaghetti bolognese (plant-based version available with Impossible meat) and more.
Get your drive-thru barbecue at Brickyard BBQ & Bar. The Etobicoke smokehouse wanted to make the waiting experience better for their patrons and created a drive-thru so people wouldn’t have to wait in the cold to pick up.
As NOW reported in November, Cold Tea in Kensington closed. Since then the team launched a seasonal venture called COLD T(REE). They’re delivering Christmas trees from an independent Ontario farm. For $125, you get a tree, cookies from Petite Thuet, a seasonal cocktail kit for two from Cold Tea Queen and a Christmas mix from DJ Mike Roc. A donation from every purchase goes Bryan Espiritu’s Change For A Hundred initiative, which is donating grocery gift cards to families experiencing food insecurity throughout the pandemic season.
Junction staple Farmhouse Tavern is delivering free brunch to refugee families at Romero House every weekend.
New Jamaican pop-up alert: Uncle Tony’s Jerk is taking orders through Instagram. Their jerk chicken is served with rice and peas, beet & carrot slaw and provisions. They’re also serving jerk eggplant sliders, jerk pork and sorrel rum punch, a classic Jamaican holiday drink.
If exciting new Toronto restaurants open in your hood or one of your faves is saying goodbye, please send tips to food [at] nowtoronto.com.