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Eat & Drink

10 Toronto restaurant locations with high turnover

Posted by Robyn Urback / April 10, 2012

Public Restaurant TorontoCall them the land of the damned when it comes to cuisine. These are the addresses that cycle between restaurants way too quickly for Google Maps to ever catch a break. Each Toronto neighbourhood seems to have one of these spots, and more often than not, the reason for each tenant's ultimate demise seems to elude common logic. A bright storefront on St. Clair? The busy corner of College and Clinton? Bloor and Bathurst!? All curious failures. Is there a way we can blame each and every example on the "St. Clair Disaster?" If not, I'm stumped.

Address: 596 College St
Intersection: Clinton and College
Currently: It's coming...
In recent years: Tempo, Public, Mattino
Possible explanation: High rent plus restaurant here can't seem to decide whether to focus on food or booze.

Sichuan Secret TorontoAddress: 585 Bloor St W
Intersection: Bloor and Bathurst
Currently: Sichuan Secret Restobar
In recent years: Axis Gastro Pub, Rocco's Plum Tomato, Sweet & Deli
Possible explanation: Too much competition in the area for what has been less than spectacular offerings here.

My Place - A Canadian PubAddress: 2448 Bloor St W
Intersection: Bloor and Jane
Currently: Earth
In recent years: My Place, Billy Bob's Bistro, Fan Sports Cafe
Possible explanation: This one might have less to do with the address than the restaurants that previously took to it to set up shop. Mainly pubs and sports bars for several years, Earth arrived most recently and brought with it something a little more food-focused and refined. Seems like this one might be here to stay.

Address: 672 St. Clair Ave W
Intersection: Christie and St. Clair
Currently: Pizza e Pazzi
In recent years: Chuck and Co., Market Fine Foods, Cafe Leopold, Patty Queen
Possible explanation: Finally, one to blame on the St. Clair streetcar

mbrgr TorontoAddress: 401 King St
Intersection: King and Spadina
Currently: Bloke & 4th
In recent years: Shoeless Joe's, M:brgr, Stix 'n' Stones Bar & Grill
Possible explanation: High rent. Big space. Plus, those $100 burgers were never going to sell

The Corner PlaceAddress: 11 Jarvis Street
Intersection: Jarvis and Front
Currently: The Corner Place
In recent years: Ninth Gate, Garden @ Eleven, Eggsellent
Possible explanation: Lacklustre offerings that have been too geared towards tourists who don't know there are better options nearby.

Kirei Sushi TorontoAddress: 81 Church Street
Intersection: Church and Queen
Currently: Kirei Sushi
In recent years: Ivory Thailand, Young Thailand
Possible explanation: An in between location where there isn't as much foot traffic as places to the north and south. Also, why compete with nearby Golden Thai?

VdaraAddress: 735 Queen St
Intersection: Tecumseth and Queen
Currently: Hoops
In recent years: Vdara, Habitat
Possible explanation: Expensive corner real estate that keeps getting more expensive. The neighbourhood just wasn't ready for haute Indian cuisine.

mitzi's on collegeAddress: 890 College St
Intersection: Ossington and College
Currently: N/A
In recent years: Mitzi's on College, Thai Canteen, Tasty Thai, Umbrella Bar & Lounge, Rush Bar & Grill
Possible explanation: Mitzi's had a good run there for a while. Could it be that would-be diners are heading south to the plethora of options on Dundas West?

Vivah TorontoAddress: 1560 Yonge Street, Delisle Court, Unit 201
Intersection: Yonge and St.Clair
Currently: Big Mouth Luck Dumpling House
In recent years: Vivah, Gill, Eating Court Chinese Restaurant
Possible explanation: Odd location on a mezzanine makes it tough to get a lot of walk-ins.

What did me miss? Add other cursed locations to the comment thread below.



Squiggle / April 10, 2012 at 03:10 pm
I hope that the little dumpling place in the old Vivah space does well. Their food is much better than the rest of the sushi infinity that is at Yonge and St. Clair.
skube / April 10, 2012 at 03:11 pm
Public is now (or will be soon) Bang Bang Bar (which migrated over from High Park area)
danielle replying to a comment from skube / April 10, 2012 at 03:30 pm
Are you serious? My friends and I went into Bang Bang Bar once as a joke. We were sure the place was a haven for drug dealers and hookers. The joke turned sour fast and we got the hell out of there!
Cammers / April 10, 2012 at 03:31 pm
Bang Bang Bar, seriously? That place was a ghetto filled with homeless riff raff and the worse "decor" in the world. They're gonna get killed if they don't step their game up at their new location.
shane / April 10, 2012 at 03:31 pm
It's too bad that Future's Bakery couldnt' hold on to their location where Hoops currently resides. They closed up shop just before the renessaince of the area. If they had managed to slog through those slow years for a tad longer, I bet the place would have been packed and thriving for at least the last 8 or 10 years. I think the Futures at this location closed sometime in the late 1990's, although sloth currently stops me from verifying this. Regards to all.
Lauren / April 10, 2012 at 03:40 pm
Yorkville Espresso Bar's current location (I know you probably haven't even heard of it yet because it already looks like it's closing down). Also, that spot where Mideastro is on Yorkville has been in and out of different retail spaces before trying it's luck at the restaurant biz.
danielle replying to a comment from skube / April 10, 2012 at 03:41 pm
Regarding 672 St. Clair Ave. W.: Unfortunately Market Fine Foods was ahead of its time for the neighbourhood. I think it would have done well had it opened today. Café Leopold did well until the chef up and left, and the quality of the food went downhill. Chuck & Co. made a poor 2nd/3rd location choice, as The Stockyards is right across the street and makes a fantastic burger. I thought Pizza e Pazzi made a curious choice for their second location as it’s not that far from their original location (St. Clair & Dufferin). I hope they don’t cannibalize each other.

Two other contenders for this list are both on College St. What is now Smokeless Joe’s was, way long ago, Jamie Kennedy’s first restaurant. Since then it’s been Pony and a bunch of others in rapid succession. Worse yet is 492 College St., which is currently Bruda. Before that it was Carpano, Negroni, Honey Kaffe, Airport Lounge and Fruition. There's a little bit of a disconnect on that little stretch of College.
MrPotato / April 10, 2012 at 03:47 pm
On King St near Portland.

It used to be something, then it became that lousy chicken place, and now its Tavolino. All 3 are BIG FAILS!
paul / April 10, 2012 at 03:48 pm
I go to the Corner Place a few times a month and it's pretty good spot for a quick dinner or Saturday morning brunch. Staff is friendly, it's not too loud and the foods pretty good.
marlon / April 10, 2012 at 03:53 pm
missed the spot where off the hook fish n chips is (Broadview just south of danforth). was once kringles. since then has been so many different types of restaurant I can't remember them all but i don't think any lasted longer than two winters.
Brendan / April 10, 2012 at 04:07 pm
Re: 672 St. Clair Ave W.

Chuck & Co. went in after the streetcar right-of-way had been constructed. Their downfall was two-fold. Firstly, I could never whether the place was open. It had faux-Victorian wallpaper decals on the windows and you could never see in the place. From across the street, the window-dressing made it look like the lights were off. Secondly, their burgers sucked. Why offer gourmet fixings when you can cook a patty right?

The new Pizza e Pazzi is constantly busy and I will guess that it'll be around for a while. But as was mentioned above, it is in competition with its other location at Dufferin. However, if I had to choose one location to win that fight, I would bet on the Christie location.
Brad / April 10, 2012 at 04:28 pm
I don't know for the other restaurants, but for Sichuan Secret, the owner of it was also the owner of Axis. He wanted to have a real chinese restaurant and Axis was not that.

Sichuan Secret is actually quite good and I have already been a few times.
vonfunk replying to a comment from danielle / April 10, 2012 at 04:32 pm
Carpano and Negroni were the same restaurant. They just a name change as the style of the restaurant changed. The own is an old friend.

As far as the recent ownership change, thy decided to focus on the other restaurants that they own.
Hi! / April 10, 2012 at 04:45 pm
ryerson / April 10, 2012 at 05:18 pm
gerrard & yonge
scott d replying to a comment from Cammers / April 10, 2012 at 05:19 pm
Bang Bang Bar,an unexplainable phenomenon on a strip of Bloor that has had more than its share of turnover over the years. Whelan's though never changes.
Arooo! replying to a comment from ryerson / April 10, 2012 at 05:20 pm
What a shitty corner of the city.
scott d replying to a comment from Cammers / April 10, 2012 at 05:22 pm
I think that the location of the Velvet Underground during the 80's and 90's was like 20 different places from Gracies, the Sketch Pad, Emersons, among many many names. I always thought it had been built on cursed ground.
michael / April 10, 2012 at 05:23 pm
i opened/owned The Airport Lounge and Honey Kaffe at 492 college st. They were Hobby Restaurants for me - Fun for a while- I still own Andy Poolhall across the street and Ciao Edie before i combined the two bars into Andy Poolhall .

Lazar / April 10, 2012 at 05:58 pm
There was a place College West that was Butt'r, China Doll, and few others. I don't know its current incarnation. Not sure of the address, but it is across (kind of) from Bar Italia.
mikeb / April 10, 2012 at 07:59 pm
1055 Yonge St.

It has been Earth since 2009, but before that it was a new restaurant every years since the nineties.

Nacho Libre replying to a comment from mikeb / April 10, 2012 at 09:01 pm
I was just going to mention this address! I can't remember all the places that have come and gone, but Toronto Life listsTabla, Plakutta, Rosewood Grill, Roxborough’s, Cucina, Arlecchino, Emerald Thai, L’Actuel, Trata, Rosedale Oyster, Cibo....
Architect / April 10, 2012 at 09:18 pm
Don't know what this article is talking about, I think they better do there research first I've bee a regular at THE CORNER PLACE for 3 years now they've been there for a while kinda pub atmosphere in terms of staff but classy and modern
danielle replying to a comment from michael / April 10, 2012 at 09:25 pm
michael: I remember Airport Lounge having really good sushi. Not bad for a hobby restaurant!

vonfunk: I also enjoyed a very tasty meal at Negroni. I hope my comment didn't come off as flip. No offense was intended.
brilynn / April 10, 2012 at 09:33 pm
The northwest corner of Bloor and Howland, it's usually a sports bar of some sort but it changes pretty much once a year...
Jason Kucherawy / April 10, 2012 at 09:42 pm
Another location that keeps changing hands is 197 Baldwin St. It's now Thirsty and miserable, but was previously Havana, Freshwood Grill, Baldwin Street Cafe, Planet Kensington... all within the last few years.
Julie / April 10, 2012 at 09:45 pm
The corner of Bloor and Walmer, in The Annex (one block west of Bloor & Spadina)- that has been so many restuarants, I can't even keep track. I liked when it was Cluck, Grunt and Low, though. Although it seemed like thye had management issues.
Darren replying to a comment from Architect / April 10, 2012 at 09:47 pm
@Architect - the article is correct in calling out The Corner Place. I lived a couple blocks from there up until 2 years ago, and indeed, that space had seen a number of ownership (or at least, name) changes. Maybe the current tenants will have better luck.
Danielle / April 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm
I actually make the commute to the corner place from Richmond Hill for Saturday brunch with my family. Food is amazing and staff is efficient and friendly. The patio is perfect in the summer.
Mike replying to a comment from Julie / April 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm
If I recall correctly, the owner of the Cluck, Grunt and Low dropped dead suddenly and that's the only reason it closed down. It's been a Puck 'n' Wing for a few years now and they seem to be doing decent business.
H. / April 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm
Michael - of Andy Poolhall - do you still have the Ciao Edie sign? I ask because it's my daughter's name and that was the first word she recognized on a sign on the street, when she was four. If you are interested in selling it, pls let me know
Jacks / April 10, 2012 at 11:11 pm
Monarch Tavern forever!
yaya / April 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm
I've never heard of any of these places... for obvious reasons
Jrochest / April 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm
Mike & Julie: the "Cluck, Grunt and Low" location at Bloor and Walmer used to be an absolutely vile doughnut shop. It's never been particularly successful as anything since.

There's also 720 Spadina; it hasn't changed hands that much, but it's gone from the Sticky Wicket to the Ferret and Firkin, and is now a Shoeless Joes. It seems odd that a pub location literally across the street from U of T has so much trouble staying afloat.
Becky / April 11, 2012 at 06:43 am
Dundas and Renown Rd (near Kipling). We've lived nearby for about 2.5 years and have seen three restaurants give that location a try. It was a pizza and pasta place when we moved in, then it was Alex's (oh, how I miss Alex's!), and now it's the Boar And Wing.

I think part of the problem is that it's trickier to get to than it looks at first glance. Cars have to deal with a one-way section of Dundas that's too close to the Six Points intersection. Transit users have to rely on the MIA 30 Lambton bus or walk (through Six Points) from Kipling station. And locals are somewhat cut off because anyone on the south side of Dundas has to risk their life trying to get there (I've asked the city to put in a crosswalk before someone is killed, but they said no.)
Snaggles / April 11, 2012 at 08:19 am
They will all be Wild Wings soon - mwaaah haha
Tom / April 11, 2012 at 09:01 am
I believe 11 Jarvis was also a golden griddle not too long ago...
Ange / April 11, 2012 at 03:16 pm
The Corner Place should not be on this list. I think it has survived since 2008. They have a great staff, amazing food, large patio in the summer and its always a blast if you are there for drinks at night!
Sprite / April 11, 2012 at 04:48 pm
81 Church Street is not Queen and Church- it's Lombard and Church, or Adelaide and Church or Richmond and Church even. But a good 2 blocks from Queen Street, duh.
Tiffany / April 11, 2012 at 06:49 pm
I think most locations in liberty village will qualify. Most notably the space that used to be Cinquecento and is now going to be a Frozen yogurt spot.
anonoo / April 12, 2012 at 04:06 am
went to public once, it was pretty cool and the people there were nice, to bad its closing
rek / April 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm
Bloor and Markham, northwest corner. It's Arisu now, but it sat empty/under construction for a year before that, then it was Labios, then something else, and then a McDonald's. Even a McDonald's failed there.
liz replying to a comment from michael / April 12, 2012 at 05:30 pm
I miss ciao edie!!!
Sadie / April 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm
There is a completely cursed location up at Mount Pleasant and Soudan Avenue, 692 Mount Pleasant Ave. A new restaurant has just opened up there called Bazaar Global Food Bar - opened by the owner of Amaya (and by looking at their menu online, if you ask me, this restaurant will not last long either). For a short time before this resto, it was Lai Toh Heen, and before that, it was Steak Frites, Pronto Ristorante... And a plethora of other restaurants that can't seem to last in this spot.
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