Suburban strip malls: the Peanut Plaza
A strip mall will know varying degrees of success and failure over its years. The massive Peanut Plaza near Don Mills and Finch has known the latter, but is currently experiencing the former in spades. Built in the 1960's, this 100,000+ square foot beast has been many things to many people over the years.
Here's what you need to know about the Peanut Plaza:
- Built in the 1960's
- Currently over 100,000 square feet.
- Gets its name from being literally shaped like a peanut.
- Splits Don Mills in half, turning it into two, one-way roads on both its sides.
- Parking comes at a premium from 9am to midnight every day. Saturday and Sunday are terrifying ordeals.
- Owned by the secretive, clandestine cabal known only as The Sitzer Group.
- Peanut Plaza has played host to a revolving door of shops over the years, but its chain-store mainstays include The Beer Store, Mac's, Pizza Pizza, McDonald's, Popeye's and Dollarama. The positive reputation Peanut Plaza enjoys comes from local store owners, however.
- Mr. Jerk, a beloved Toronto franchise, built its first location here. Even those who've moved out of the area return for a combo.
- Allan's Pastries is known far and wide for having one of the best patties in the city.
- Harbour Fish & Chips still uses real Halibut, and fresh-cut fries - an increasing rarity. Vanier students would likely starve if it were to ever go away.
Of all the local businesses drawing customers in, no one has made a bigger impact than Tone Tai Supermarket. After IGA's closure in 2005, Peanut Plaza had no supermarket to speak of. With no main draw, the volume of customers receded. In 2009, Tone Tai overtook IGA's empty space, and became an instant success. The area's growing Asian population took to the place immediately, capitalizing on its amazing variety (4 kinds of durian!) and ridiculously low prices.
Tone Tai's success brought a Bank of China branch, while Seneca Pub has met the increased volume of people by transforming into a full-blown (and well-frequented) sports bar.
While Peanut Plaza has been around for some time, its current success is reflective of the cultural changes all around it. Come for a Big Mac and 12-pack, stay for the fresh eel and curried goat.
Writing by Daniel Gerichter