restaurant fire toronto

Toronto restaurant struggles to reopen after devastating fire

When Oakwood Hardware caught on fire last November, it was just four days shy of celebrating its first anniversary.  

The charming neighbourhood restaurant was quickly building a reputation in the area for phenomenal food and cocktails, and over the last year had become a favourite for locals of Oakwood Village and beyond. 

With holidays just around the corner, Christmas bookings were filling up fast, and owner Anne Sorrenti was just getting ready to introduce a new food menu with a wine list to match. 

But on November 13, 2017, she got a devastating call in the wee hours of the morning from her alarm system company: there had been a fire.

Sorrenti recalls dashing out of her home at 5 a.m., clad only in pyjamas, to arrive at the horrifying scene of her smoking restaurant—victim to a fire, caused by a spontaneous combustion involving residual heat and a bin of clean laundry.

"It was pretty traumatic," says Sorrenti. "Going in there was horrible." 

oakwood hardware toronto

The restaurant's kitchen had caught fire just four days before its first anniversary. Photo by Jesse Milns.

While the front dining area of the spacious restaurant went largely unscathed, the entire kitchen in the back had suffered from serious fire, water, and smoke damage.

Sorrenti's insurance company provided her with contractors, who initially said that the kitchen would take two weeks to fix, effectively benching the restaurant for the majority of the holiday season.

It turned out they would miss out on much more than that. The two-week job turned into a four-week project, which then turned into months.

"I fully expected I would be re-open in February, which turned into March, then July." 

In between all that time was a series of events that could really only boil down to a serious case of bad luck.

In January, the upstairs radiator flooded during a particularly frigid cold snap and a chunk of the ceiling froze, then fell down. In August, the restaurant fell victim to the heavy rains which caused flooding citywide—their basement included.

And in September, the contractors who failed to secure a number of crucial permits were eventually fired by the insurance company, pushing the date back some more. 

Now a year later the restaurant is closer to opening than ever, but remains under wraps. If going by the flooding of supportive messages on Oakwood Hardware's Facebook posts, many are anticipating its return.

The re-opening date is still up in the air, but despite the painfully prolonged process of fixing a business that literally went up in flames, and the fact they'll have to miss yet another holiday season, Sorrenti remains surprisingly positive. 

When asked what the new menu will look like once Oakwood Hardware finally opens its doors once again, she laughs and says, "Everything can be smoked." 

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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