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Restaurant row to replace World's Biggest Bookstore

Posted by Aubrey Jax / February 11, 2014

Worlds Biggest BookstoreThe World's Biggest Bookstore will be replaced by a "Restaurant Row," Lifetime Developments has announced, shocking all of Toronto with the idea that the building could become anything other than condos. The World's Biggest Bookstore is set to close next month, as the site on which it sits at 20 Edward St. has been sold to the developer.

A press release states the four new restaurants will be completed by TIFF 2015 and "will be the best dining experience Toronto has to offer." Anybody wanna bet that this high ceiling-ed, "multi-level patio" endeavor will rival King West's restaurant row for tourist trap status? Anyway, you'll probably get the stink eye if you bring a book to dinner, but that's never stopped us before.

Here's a look at what the row is expected to look like.

Restaurant row renderingRestaurant row renderingRestaurant row renderingRestaurant row renderingRestaurant row renderingPhoto by Steve Harris on Flickr



Al / February 11, 2014 at 02:37 pm
The city needs to mandate that it have a PATH connection to Atrium on Bay, so that the PATH can eventually extend all the way to College Park.
runny / February 11, 2014 at 02:38 pm
Lovely! God knows the area could use some good restaurants hopefully no more montana/milestone/astor bs. More importantly I wanna know what will become of the runnymede firehall that chapters is leaving. could have potential as a concert hall.
Dave replying to a comment from runny / February 11, 2014 at 02:51 pm
The Chapters is becoming a Shoppers Drug Mart, because god knows the Bloor West Village area needs a new Shopper's.

I can't wait to see their harsh fluorescent lighting in that great old space.
Best spot in town / February 11, 2014 at 02:53 pm
Best part of this, that all those fancy new patios will be staring at the asshole of the Atrium, where all the garbage trucks, delivery trucks and service trucks enter and exit. Not to mention all the cars from the under ground parking lot. Oh, and the boat loads of workers who loiter out back on their smoke breaks.

Oh and let's not forget the construction that the Atrium is about to be starting that is adding on more floors to that side of the complex.

Best dining experience in Toronto without a doubt.
jake replying to a comment from Best spot in town / February 11, 2014 at 03:08 pm
Hey 'best spot in town', I bet you like absolutely nothing.
Rob replying to a comment from Best spot in town / February 11, 2014 at 03:10 pm
Very good point. But don't forgot about the line up of cars on Edward spewing exhaust fumes while they desperately try to make a turn onto Yonge St.
Rob Ford's Undershirt / February 11, 2014 at 03:11 pm
It's a shame that the WBB is closing in the first place. Just another rubber eraser to TO's dwindling heritage, to be replaced by poorly-built glass condos and overpriced restaurants. I have no doubt these uncharacteristic eating spots will be nothing but the same overpriced resto-chains that dot any other touristy part of the city. Glad its not condos at least!
Pablo / February 11, 2014 at 03:13 pm
This is fantastic, so happy that we are one condo less for the city! I hope that maybe the city could close up elm and make it a permanent pedestrian walk way between yonge and bay. Some green space and bike parking would help, maybe move a bixi station there?
Leon replying to a comment from Rob Ford's Undershirt / February 11, 2014 at 03:14 pm
Agreed, but is it the City's responsibility to uphold a dying business? It was only a matter of time.

Also, who says that independent restaurants can't open there? Probably just a question of funding. I'm sure it's not earmarked exclusively to chains, though they would have the most money to pony up.
jd83 / February 11, 2014 at 03:19 pm
I'm guessing they are trying to recreate what's on Elm St. Except they have the butt of the Atrium to deal with.

They should partner with the Atrium and other owners on the street and redo the whole thing. Sidewalks, trees (LOTS OF TREES) and I'd push with the city to do interlock bricks or something half decent.
Cyril Sneer replying to a comment from Rob Ford's Undershirt / February 11, 2014 at 03:21 pm
Agreed. All those units look identical, and completely unremarkable in design. I can only assume they'll be filled with crappy Jack Astor-esque chain places.
TJ / February 11, 2014 at 03:22 pm
I highly doubt it will only become 4 restaurants. There is enough depth and setback there for the patios be become the setback podium of a larger condo complex. If you read the press release and look for semantics in the language, there is nothing that precludes them from doing the condo beyond TIFF 2015. The restaurants could be first step. I'm not sure if it will conform to the Official Plan because just restaurants will not maximize density.
Best spot in town replying to a comment from jake / February 11, 2014 at 03:29 pm
I work in the Atrium. I know exactly what its like.

Do you know what the back of the Atrium looks like at all directly across from the book store?

Its massive service entrances, industrial fans, large trucks entering all day. Courier trucks lined up along the street, over side garbage disposal units.

So ya, i dont like this. Who would? The Atrium cant simply move all of this to somewhere else.
runny replying to a comment from Dave / February 11, 2014 at 03:42 pm
aw man! what a bummer! such a great venue such a sterile replacement
danielle demerino / February 11, 2014 at 03:47 pm
I'm into it! Touristy or Not, I'm happy to have more retail in all corners of the city - here's hoping they lease to non-franchise owners and do a larger scale Ossington revival.
gale / February 11, 2014 at 03:48 pm
your all a bunch of complainers, if your going to protest go outside!
Astin / February 11, 2014 at 03:54 pm
Ugh, Signage? I hate that place. Also, Sign isn't any great shakes either.

They're both just so generic.

With the places that went into The Aura just down the road, Elm St on block away, and the chains just to the south, it will be interesting to see what goes in here.

It won't be Jack Astor's or Milestones or St. Louis, or Pickle Barrel, or Red Lobster - unless any of those move from their current locations.

I can definitely see The Keg being interested in being there, I'm sure Barberian's would be thrilled. Maybe a Montana's or Kelsey's. Ugh.

Most likely though will be the high-end chains like what's in Aura. Higher-priced, higher quality, disguised as independents, but still part of a "family" of restaurants. Maybe some back patios to avoid staring at the ass-end of the Atrium.
Alex replying to a comment from gale / February 11, 2014 at 03:57 pm
What? Your sentence was nonsensical.
Kaitlin replying to a comment from Dave / February 11, 2014 at 03:59 pm
The Runnymede Chapters wasn't the firehall. It was a theatre.
Audrius / February 11, 2014 at 04:27 pm
One of the new restaurants should name itself "Sign" ;)
Benedict / February 11, 2014 at 04:29 pm
Sad to see the closure of the WBB and life is more than food and drinks. Now the stomach is full but the head is still empty.
Alex / February 11, 2014 at 04:32 pm
I'm glad that area is getting more restaurant options since there is nothing around there now. I hope at least one of them isn't a super pricey high-end place, but not likely.
iSkyscraper / February 11, 2014 at 04:51 pm
Yes, it will be generic chain places that can soak up the square footage. So what, not a bad use, any restaurant downtown is a good thing provided it can make it. The signage tower is atrocious though -- nice restaurants do not use billboards -- but other than that this will be fine.

The real question is why it is NOT condos. There must be something about zoning or building envelope that is preventing a tower here and instead making the new owner keep the structural framing while changing the fit-out. Something smells fishy, and I'm not talking about the forthcoming Red Lobster.
I See Food Difinertly replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / February 11, 2014 at 05:05 pm
Red Lobster already exists in the base of the Atrium.
Khristopher / February 11, 2014 at 05:19 pm
I'm sure it will eventually be condos. They built a restaurant temporarily for Bay-Adelaide Centre's east tower until the developer was ready to build. It was called South of Temperance. It was never meant to be permanent. I feel like this is the same thing.
Holy Thundering Jesus / February 11, 2014 at 05:36 pm
it be like MacDonalds, Burger King, Subways, Harveys, Kenfucky, Pizza Hut, cause they the only ones who can pay the rent for that location. Call it heart stroke row! BAM!
jojo / February 11, 2014 at 05:43 pm
This will turn out to be a huge disappointment! The difference is that King West has a developed community with disposable income not a wasteland of kids and crackheads that loiter yonge and dundas.
Dan / February 11, 2014 at 05:44 pm
What a hater. It's yonge and dundas, you expect it to be a mom and pop shop?
poh / February 11, 2014 at 06:13 pm
Still holding hope for an Eataly!!
WILL CAMERON replying to a comment from poh / February 11, 2014 at 08:07 pm
Are you sure you want an Eataly? We have it here in New York City..... and are you sure you want to pay $4.00 for a bottle of water?
Path To Atrium replying to a comment from Al / February 11, 2014 at 08:11 pm
In Response to Al: There is a PATH connection to the Atrium on Bay. Walk through the Eaton Centre, exit through the Dundas Subway Station, and follow the staircase to the Northbound platform. You will see an underground connection to the PATH. It takes you underground all they way to the Toronto Central Bus Station (Greyhound Station), without ever seeing daylight!
Daryl replying to a comment from Path To Atrium / February 12, 2014 at 09:26 am
I think he was implying the PATH should extend north FROM the Atrium, allowing it to eventually connect to College Park
Timmy replying to a comment from runny / February 12, 2014 at 10:17 am
A THEATRE Runny, not a firehall.
GUY'S BIG BITES / February 12, 2014 at 10:19 am
Timmy replying to a comment from Dave / February 12, 2014 at 10:19 am
They're not getting a new Shopper's just the one from the north side (inside the old Esquire theatre space) by Drury to the current Chapters. I too will wonder how a drug store will fill that beautiful space. I wonder what they will put up on the stage?
Simon replying to a comment from jojo / February 12, 2014 at 10:46 am
King Street is a yuppie shithole, but Yonge and Dundas is worse, because this tacky shithole is right in the middle of everything so if you have to go downtown you'll probably have to go through it. Yonge and Dundas already has a shortage of good restaurants and I don't expect this to be anything more than suburban transplant chains, gimmicks, cold attitude, overpriced mediocrity or some kind of trashy mob front like the rest of Dundas Street. One of Toronto's ugliest streets. I remember a few weeks ago I was excited to go to this board game cafe on Edward St. that didn't charge cover. Turned out to be a shithole with little selection, overpriced coffee, and buy-something-or-get-out type signage everywhere. I figured at that location it had to be a shithole and my gut feeling was right.
John / February 12, 2014 at 01:45 pm
Closing the WLBookstore makes me sad.
I used to love spending an hour or more browsing.
That's probably why it closed, more browsers than buyers.
kn / February 12, 2014 at 02:04 pm
Uhhhhh, where's the 80 story condo tower?
Ben Vanstone replying to a comment from runny / February 12, 2014 at 04:43 pm
Its going to be a Shoppers Drug Mart
BobX9 replying to a comment from Al / February 12, 2014 at 05:41 pm
The PATH does kind of link to Atrium on Bay... Through Eaton Centre and Dundas station you can get to AOB without going outside. And from there to the Greyhound terminal. But I recently found out the new Aura building connects to College Park so all they'd need to do is extend the PATH from Dundas to Gerrard and it would extend to CP!
Sid / February 13, 2014 at 12:46 am
Vegan food... we need more vegan restaurants in the city!!
Spike replying to a comment from Leon / February 13, 2014 at 08:56 am
If Paris can keep bookstores from closing via a special program, then so can Toronto. All we need is the will to act and the funding for such a program.
Hummus / February 27, 2014 at 02:44 pm
I love have some readers of this Blog cannot wait to spew negativity at anything. Everything is hated, until it's changed or torn down, wherein what was once hated is now loved and missed and was the best thing ever.


Conceptual project of restaurants (likely chains but could also be other, independently developed ones): bad, facing the asshole of the Atrium, too many crackheads and kids without disposable income.


So, Condo?

No, condos are bad, I hate them, gentrification, too much density, bland banal box, too much congestion, the units are so small, ftw.


So ... um, maybe revert back to the World's Biggest Book Store?

OMG, what? THAT place? Never shop there, don't buy books! So overpriced, the fluorescent lights are way too harsh, omg... such a dumpy store, SO regional.

chris / March 18, 2015 at 01:05 pm
The demolition is underway and it's revealed a ghost ad painted on the building to the north of WBB. It says ..UNORS C.. Any idea what this is an ad for? I'm sure more of it will be revealed as the rest of the building is pulled down.
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