Toronto restaurants that opened and closed this week

East York mainstay Serano Bakery closes temporarily and an arepas spot on Queen West says goodbye for good


Toronto restaurants continue to fold under the stress of pandemic restrictions, many not expecting to have to hold out this long.

Other than drops in sales, COVID spread or fear of transmission is another reason some restaurant owners are choosing to close temporarily. Many are prioritizing the mental health and safety of staff and eyeing the finish line now that Ontarians are slowly getting vaccinated.

Despite the closures, there is still a steady stream on new restaurants and food businesses opening every week. Many are being resourceful and partnering with other establishments to lessen their financial burdens or opening pop-up style until they can offer full service again.

Here are the Toronto restaurants that opened and closed between April 27 and May 4.

Toronto restaurants that closed

Maiz Arepa Bar

The Queen West location of this Toronto restaurant chain closed permanently on May 3. The owners announced the closure on Instagram, writing: “During this pandemic, we chose not to increase our prices and keep our quality as always but unfortunately, our restaurant has not been approved for many of the government supports and it’s almost impossible to keep running it out of our pocket with all the current restrictions.” The menu of delectable tacos, burrito bowls and churros is still available at the Junction, Roncesvalles and Yonge and Lawrence locations.

Serano Bakery and Serano Cafe

This hallmark of Pape Avenue will only be closed temporarily until May 19. The restaurant posted a notice to Instagram, announcing that a Serano family member and some bakery staff were COVID-19 positive. “Please rest assured that all precautions were taken to disinfect the store and follow all procedures surrounding the pandemic,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, we have decided to give our staff from both our bakery and café a two week break and focus on making sure the health of our staff and customers come first.”

New Toronto restaurants

Atai Bistro

This new Junction restaurant soft launched with a pop-up menu serving French Moroccan fare available on all the major delivery apps. The condensed menu includes smoked eggplant flatbread, short rib flatbread, basteeya and a range of mezze platters. It will be extended once COVID restrictions loosen.

Blissful Bird

Serving up plant-based fried chicken and all things comfort food, this new pop-up is run out of Snakes and Lattes on College. They’ve got plant-based chicken meals like “chikun” tikka masala, fried “chikun” stuffed bao, curry bowls, fried “chikun” sandwiches and more.

Gianna’s Patties and Pies

After going on hiatus during the second wave, Grant van Gameren’s Parkdale burgers and pizza spot is back online, doing takeout orders via the Ambassador app and UberEats. Chicken parm, egglplant parm, a double-stacked burger and a Philly pork sandwich are now on the menu.

Matt’s Smokehouse

Matt’s started as a pandemic online food business and has lived many lives since then. After several month at their brick-and-mortar location in the Junction, they’ve now partnered with Night Owl in Little Italy. They’re known for saucy wings, ribs and pulled chicken and they’ve introduced some new menu items in time for the new opening: a smash burger and fries topped with brisket, melted cheese and secret sauce.

O’SOMAE

This new brunch spot in East Chinatown has pandemic takeout down pat. Each of their offerings, like avocado toast or chicken and waffle meals, come in easy to-go pizza boxes. They sell out often, so try to get there before 2 pm. They’re also available on the major delivery apps if you’re having a particularly lazy Sunday but want some eggs benny with crab.

Trainwreck Burgers

Inside of the Ecuadorean restaurant Cocina de Doña Julia at Dupont and Lansdowne, a new pop-up burger shop just opened. They do a classic burger, a bacon and cheese burger, a queso and tortilla burger and a Beyond Meat burger. It’s all run in-house by Cocina’s staff.

@kelseyxadams

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