catherine hernandez toronto

Someone is painting Toronto restaurants that have closed and it's pretty sad

Toronto restaurants have sadly been closing all around us, and a local painter and writer has taken to documenting these places in watercolour.

Catherine Hernandez has been posting photos of watercolour paintings she's created of Toronto places that have closed. So far she's painted Pappas Grill, Furama Bakery, D'Pavilion and Hollandaise Diner.

"A major part of my work as a writer is to document community, how landscapes change and how that shifts the ways we connect with one another," Hernandez tells blogTO. "In the fallout of the pandemic, we all have watched local businesses struggle, with some of them closing their doors for good."

"For the former owners of these businesses, I understand that these places represented a dream, a paycheque, a body of hardworking staff. For the public, this is their chance to recall all of those special memories they've had there."

She tries to pick places with a personal connection to memoralize in paintings, but wants to paint more places and is very happy to take suggestions.

"I won't be able to do them all, but how touching is it to these former owners that the public still cares for the establishments they worked so hard to build?" says Hernandez.

"I love reading comments about what people remember, be it their favourite table, a first date they had there, their job there."

Hernandez says she's been hearing from former owners too, who seem to appreciate this "tiny act of celebration."

Hernandez is a playwright and the author of critically acclaimed novel Scarborough, and wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. Her latest novel is Crosshairs, published last year.

"It's kind of hilarious that the paintings have garnered this much attention," says Hernandez.

"Like many during the pandemic, I've taken up new artistic pursuits as a way of alleviating the anxiety about the imminent disaster we are all facing."

She only took up watercolours in mid-April, and says it's become "a daily meditation practice" that's simply a different way to tell stories.

"My future hope for this project is that I will have no more businesses to paint" she says. "More than wanting this pandemic to end, I want us all to have equal access to resources and safety"

"I want us all to gather again and for our communities to be intact. But for now, I hope these former owners know how much their hard work meant to all of us."

Lead photo by

Catherine Hernandez

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