grand electric

One of Toronto's most popular taco joints is going completely vegetarian

Since opening just over one year ago, Grand Electric's smaller, more causal outpost across from Trinity Bellwoods Park has been slammed.

Good luck getting in the door, let alone scoring a seat inside the hip taquiera on a sunny Saturday.

The food is bomb, the prices are great and the location can't be beat: Where else can you vibe to old school hip hop while eating quesadillas and drinking beer on a bar stool overlooking West Queen West?

Saturday: sunshine+tacos+beer 👌🏻☀️🌮🍺

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Sadly, despite its overwhelming success, the Grand Electric Taqueria at 923 Queen Street West will be no more as of this November. In its place will rise an all new vegetarian taco and juice concept called "Tacos Rico."

Owners Ian McGrenaghan and Colin Tooke announced the news on Instagram Thursday afternoon, going into great detail over why they made the choice to shut down a wildly successful business.

"Study after study has shown that reducing the amount of meat you consume is probably the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, yet we've been pussyfooting around this issue for years at our restaurants," reads a portion of their long, thoughtful announcement.

"We have sourced free-range livestock, ensured our meat is antibiotic-free, yet done absolutely nothing to address the root problem — our restaurants are a nonstop dinner party, where 90 per cent of the menu is meat or fish."

"It was never mentioned at the time, but this is why we made the decision to close our beloved Electric Mud BBQ (rest in peace). This is why we have made a decision that is at once dramatic and vital," the restauranteurs continue.

"We will be closing the Trinity Bellwoods location of Grand Electric in November of this year."

Looking inwards. It’s not something we in the restaurant world do often. From the moment you wake, your gaze is focused outward - towards broken equipment, staff morale, a customer service issue, then to a new dish on the menu, or an old one prepared incorrectly. You answer phone calls, reply to texts, chase down tradespeople, flick through Instagram for design inspiration. The closest thing to inner reflection most restaurateurs have takes place over a drink and a bite of a favourite dish on the menu. It’s a truly special moment, often reminding us of why we continue to weather the highs and lows of hospitality, day after day, year after year. Don’t get us wrong, plenty of restaurants ground themselves in a place of purpose. We strive for more equitable hiring practices, sustainable ingredients, and compostable packaging for example. Over the past few years, we’ve had a chance to look inwards, to reflect on why we wanted to open restaurants in the first place. Ultimately, it is to make people happy. Our customers, our staff, our neighbourhood, ourselves. Yet, for all the high minded chatter in restaurant dining rooms and kitchens pushing for practices to make the world a more just place, one critical fact remains: we serve food, a good portion of which is meat And we are contributing to the destruction of the planet by doing so. The science is clear: a massive reduction in meat consumption is essential to mitigate climate change. Meat production is responsible for almost 15% of greenhouse gas globally. Looking inwards, we were forced to ask ourselves - are we really creating the happiness we want to see in the world by conducting a scorched earth campaign on the ozone layer, water tables and arable land our children will be inheriting? This is not an essay about veganism. In fact, we don’t care if you eat meat. This is an essay about the fact that as restaurant owners, we are in a unique position to affect the food consumption of a large number of people - our customers. Who else but a restauranteur can immediately affect what hundreds of people eat PER DAY? (CONTINUED IN COMMENTS)

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Tacos Rico will open where Grand Electric Taqueria currently stands across from Bellwoods sometime in the middle of November, according to McGrenaghan, who was careful to note that the original Grand Electric in Parkdale would continue serving meat and fish as usual.

"We still eat meat from time to time, but our restaurants have to be held to a higher standard than any single person," reads today's announcement on Grand Electric's Instagram page.

"Maybe it's a pipe dream, but we like to think we can operate restaurants that are good for the environment, good for customers, good for our staff, AND good for our bottom line."

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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