gerrard east market

Toronto parking lot transformed into beach-themed outdoor patio

A beach-themed parking lot patio is Toronto's newest destination, and it's the result of a whole bunch of local businesses banding together.

You might have noticed the beachy area being constructed and filled with Muskoka chairs and twinkly lights. Called Gerrard East Market, it comes with two decks, picnic tables, umbrellas, an outdoor screen showing sports, lighting and 22 tonnes of sand.

The spot represents nearly 10 businesses in the up and coming Gerrard and Jones area including Hype Food Co., Pinkerton's, Yard Sale, Vatican Gift Shop, Poor Romeo and "the list keeps growing" according to Michael Currie, one of the owners of Two Cats Cannabis Co. (opening in September).

"Many of the surrounding businesses have a uniquely personal relationship with one another, long standing friendships, similar industries, business partners, etc. We're one big family out here. The pandemic has hit everyone hard and the whole community is stronger than the sum of its parts," says Currie.

"Many businesses on Gerrard have little to no space for outdoor dining and limited indoor dining. This is where the pivot happened. PYMBO Investments owns many of the buildings in this area as well as the parking lot and strip mall where the market is located."

Two Cats Cannabis Co., The Vatican, Poor Romeo, The Dive Shop (formerly Hotel Delilah) and PYMBO joined forces and finances to create and manage a new community patio, beer garden and food hub.

"With approval of the AGCO and working alongside City Planning, we  had an amendment of a city by-law allowing us an off-site liquor license for the parking lot with multiple participants involved," says Currie. 

"We also couldn't have pulled this off if not for the efforts of Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 14), Mayor John Tory and Nader Kadri (City Planner)."

Though this patio is part of the CafeTO program that will end in November, Gerrard East Market is currently open Thursday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. You won't want to miss it, because as Currie himself says, "It's quite the spectacle."

Lead photo by

Erin Margaret

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