The top 20 deadpool from Toronto in 2013
The Toronto deadpool grew a whole bunch in 2013, with both old-hat dining establishments and short-lived players in Toronto's ever-evolving culinary and retail landscape shutting their doors, often for good. This year's list sees the loss of a number of well-reputed but perhaps, outmoded eateries as well as some innovative but untenable experiments.
We also learned that the World's Biggest Bookstore is closing, though it will run out the string for the first couple months of the new year. If there's a silver lining to all of these closures, it's that 2013 was also a robust year for new businesses, and at the risk of sounding like Gordon Gecko, the competitive marketplace often forces businesses to up their game.
Here are the top 20 deadpool from 2013.
World's Biggest Bookstore
The self-proclaimed biggest bookstore in the world (which it actually isn't) will close its doors in early 2014, after it was announced in November that the iconic store would be sold to a developer. It's not altogether that surprising given the real estate and book markets -- not to mention the location -- but it becomes easier and easier to imagine a time when book shops in Toronto will be extinct.
Indian Rice Factory
Open since 1970 at the corner of Dupont and Howland, this influential Indian restaurant announced its closure this fall. The restaurant was one of Toronto's premiere (and longest standing) destinations for authentic Indian cuisine. Late owner, Amar Patel had been credited with pioneering Toronto's ethnic food scene.
After 25 years, this pricey midtown Italian restaurant reinvented itself as Vita Sociale and switched focus in favour of more mid-range pricing and casual service. Throughout its years, the kitchen spawned an illustrious roster of alumni including Chris McDonald (Cava), Michael Bonacini (O&B), Marc Thuet, David Lee (Nota Bene), Bruce Woods (Woods).
Despite critical acclaim, Claudio Aprile shuttered this pinnacle of haute cuisine early this year to focus on the continued expansion of his Origin restaurants. During its 6-year run, the restaurant received high praise for top-tier service and sophisticated approach.
Mark Cuturara's Parkdale restaurant played an influential role in introducing Toronto diners to locavorism and nose-to-tail eating. After six years, the carnivore's paradise cited declining busyness and financial reasons for shutting its doors in early 2013.
Rising rent forced this laid back Riverdale bar to shut in April after three years of DJ sets, live bands, letter-writing socials, comedy shows, video game tourneys and indie film shoots.
This contemporary New American restaurant opened to great fanfare in the summer of 2011. The kitchen saw some top-tier talent at its helm; chef Matt Blondin who later went onto open Momofuko Daisho, Patrick Kriss (formerly of Splendido), and then Top Chef Canada alum Dustin Gallagher. In the new year, owners Lindsey and Scott Selland plan revamp the spot as a casual Italian trattoria.
Parkdale's highly praised Aboriginal Canadian restaurant was truly sui generis serving seasonally fluctuating plates (and a one point tasting menus) that were earthy but elegant, exotic but foraged locally. The restaurant held out hope of reopening 'til October but had been out of commission most of the summer after suffering extensive flood damage.
This Parkdale appertivi and piattini bar from the same owners as neighbouring Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, called it quits this fall. The restaurant has been sold to former Bar Salumi chef, Haeyoen An and is expected to become a lunch-time destination sometime in the new year.
A leader in fair-trade, fresh roasted coffees since 1996, this independent retail cafe on Roncesvalles closed in December. The roastery will still deal in beans and supply to local coffee brewers like Sunny Joe's Cafe on Sorauren.
Superior Sausage Co.
Ruthless hounding from city inspectors to update facilities forced this old-school Polish sausage factory to pack it in this September. The shop had been a fixture on Dundas West across from Trinty Bellwoods since for 35+ years and was well loved for its house-made kielbasa, bacon and other meaty delicacies.
This three-storey Corktown establishment opened in 2006 by powerhouse restauranteur Hanif Harji and chef Roger Mooking. The resto-lounge received high praise and a spot on enRoute Magazine's best new restaurant list in 2007, but was later sold to new owners and closed this fall.
After nearly a ten year run, Master Chef Leroy Didier has shuttered his well-established self-titled Parisian bistro on Yonge at St. Clair. Chef cited the changing culinary landscape and an interest in opening a cooking school as reasons for selling the restaurant.
I ate here once when the kitchen was still helmed by Ted Corrado, and can remember two things; my entree, a white chocolate-sauced lobster claw (I still dream of this dish); and the cold uneasiness of the angular room. The restaurant was shuttered this year when operator, The Compass Group reneged on their ten-year commitment to manage the venue. A new tenant for the ROM's flagship restaurant has yet to be announced.
This seafood restaurant from chef David Friedman (ex-Fishbar), couldn't seem to bait a following for its local and sustainably sourced menu. The unassuming restaurant regularly hosted prix-fixe date nights and a weekly fish fry in attempt to attract diners, but went belly up in just over year.
The Italian trattoria on King West quietly called it quits this fall amidst a flurry of new restaurant openings in the neighbourhood. I guess they just weren't up for the competition.
The casual Queen West wine bar was well loved for its selection of rare, limited-batch bottles sourced from small production wineries. The restaurant announced in the fall that it would soon be replaced by Come And Get It, which is exciting news though bittersweet for Mavrik fans. The website indicates it could yet be reopened at another address.
Earth Bloor West
A victim of retail redevelopment, this 18,000-square-foot Bloor West restaurant (sibling to Earth Rosedale and Globe Bistro) closed at the end of September when the landlord exercised a demolition clause.
Poor John's Cafe
Opened in late 2005, this sunny daytime spot on West Queen West was a local favourite for brunch, lunch and take-away sandwiches. The cafe shuttred this spring and was later converted into new bar, Food & Liquor -- thankfully a spot that's retained Poor John's modest pricing.
What did I miss? Add your top deadpool to the comments below.
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