Toronto's favourite brunch spot is still not ready to reopen for Stage 3
Toronto restaurants have been allowed to reopen for dine-in service since the city entered Stage 3 several weeks ago, but one popular brunch spot is erring on the side of caution and remaining closed for the time being.
Lady Marmalade is a beloved brunch staple located in East Chinatown, and the owners have chosen to keep their doors closed while offering takeout to the public throughout the pandemic.
"To be honest it felt too soon for us," said co-owner Natalia Simachkevitch. "We are not ready to dine indoors ourselves so it didn't feel like the right decision to open our restaurant for dine-in service."
Simachkevitch said thanks to the nice weather, customers have been able to buy takeout and then eat in the nearby Riverdale Park, which is yet another reason why they didn't feel compelled to rush a reopening.
The plan to safely reopen for dine-in is in the works, however, and Simachkevitch said they're in the process of having conversations with staff about comfortable they feel at the prospect of returning to work.
"The biggest challenge is that there are still so many unknowns," she said. "The information regarding transmission is constantly changing. With every week we wait to offer dine-in service, there's more information out there which will help us with reopening safely."
But while the choice to keep their dining room closed has been deliberate, Simachkevitch said the financial impacts have not been easy to bear.
"Like all restaurants, we are struggling. August is typically our busiest month as tourists flock to the city," she said. "It's the opposite this year. August has been our slowest month since the pandemic began as people are escaping the city."
So if the current situation in Toronto remains under control, Simachkevitch says they do plan to tentatively reopen in mid-September.
When do they do, they'll only have 24 seats available and a seating time limit to accommodate as many guests as possible while continuing to offer takeout.
Simachkevitch said she hopes patrons will be cooperative and understanding of the safety measures they'll have in place.
"While we are definitely cautious about reopening too soon," she said, "we are so excited to have guests in our space soon and can't wait to see our food on plates instead of takeout boxes."
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