Why can't Montreal brands find success in Toronto?
With M:brgr on King West shutting its doors last week, Toronto not only lost its sole purveyor (as far as I know) of the $100 hamburger, but it also lost yet another Montreal business that couldn't seem to get its grip on the Toronto market. Owner Jeff Ditcher didn't respond immediately to requests for comment, but M:brgr's Twitter feed confirmed that the burger joint is gone for good, though its original Montreal location will remain open.
The news doesn't exactly come as a surprise, considering M:brgr Toronto opened up amid some tough competition. There's Big Smoke Burger at King and Portland, BQM Diner at Queen and Peter and Grindhouse at King and Peter--and that's just burger bars--so the skeptical observer would note that the odds weren't exactly in M:brgr's favour.
But it seems this sort of fleeting, failed attempt to establish a Toronto brand based on Montreal success isn't exactly unusual. Take the case of Spice Safar, also on King West, which was opened by founder Wilhelm Liebenberg after Spice Safar Montreal took off. The mistake here, however, may have been opening two Toronto locations within such a close proximity. Then there was Liquid Nutrition on Queen Street, which currently boasts seven locations in Montreal, but experienced just a brief life when it opened a couple years back on Queen by Spadina. Perhaps it was the Fresh just around the corner, or Sadie's down the block.
Other Montreal businesses that took a stab at Toronto are Space FB, which enjoyed a brief stint as the casual wear du-jour as far as I can recall, but eventually closed both its Queen Street and Eglinton East locations. There was MBCo, a Montreal bakery that is still alive in Yorkville but shuttered its Rosedale outpost. Plus Moishes if you want to go a decade or so back, which brought its delicious pickles (and steak) to The Financial District, but was perhaps was one too many steakhouses for the area, and closed after just a couple of years on the scene.
It seems to me these examples shared a common and fatal barrier to success--wrong location. Either they landed in the wrong spot, or plopped themselves down in an area already saturated with what they were selling. Is that what ails these Montreal imports? Do Montreal business owners need to get a better drift of what works where in Toronto? Or is something else causing all of these Montreal businesses to go belly up?