belfast love toronto

Vancouver pub empire sets its sights on Toronto

Toronto's King West neighbourhood is already saturated with bars and clubs, but it's about to get one more thanks to a West Coast import that's set to move in this spring.

The Donnelly Group is transforming Zoe's Bakery Cafe at 548 King St. W. into Belfast Love, a public house that'll include 40 beer taps as well as a menu by David Gunawan (who's behind Vancouver's famed Farmer's Apprentice). It'll feature "elevated pub food," such as a handmade burgers, pizza and fish and chips.

Despite its Northern Irish name, Belfast Love won't be your typical Irish pub. It'll focus on craft beer from Toronto and Ontario brewers at its three bars, including one on its side patio. Local firm Mason Studio will be responsible for the bar's interior design.

Donnelly Group operating partner Regan Truong says he and his team were impressed with Toronto's vibe when they visited the city. "We thought it would be a great secondary market to jump into."

This restaurant, bar and nightclub conglomerate already has 10 outposts on the West Coast. Some feature shuffleboard courts while others include barbershops on site.

Yet, the Donnelly Group evokes mixed feelings from its existing patrons. Some say it's homogenizing the Vancouver's bar scene while others consider its various locations a welcome addition to the relatively sleepy city - well, sleepy when it comes to late-night entertainment.

And while Belfast Love might be Donnelly's first foray into Toronto, the company already has plans to open up a second public house somewhere in the downtown core this summer.


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