tapas at embrujo toronto

Toronto restaurant open since 1972 says it needs help if it's going to survive

A Toronto restaurant, said to be the oldest tapas place in the city, needs help to survive the latest lockdown.

Tapas at Embrujo, originally opened in 1972 on Bathurst south of Dupont and now on the Danforth, is one of the latest restaurants facing closure without help. At least 60 restaurants have closed permanently during the pandemic.

Owner and chef, Jose Salgado started a GoFundMe to help keep the restaurant afloat during Toronto’s second lockdown.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to everyone worldwide especially the hospitality industry and we since the beginning have done our best to stay afloat but even with our best efforts we have realized that hard work and dedication won't be enough so after much contemplation we are reaching out to our fabulous customers and friends to help us get through these next few months and holiday season," Salgado posted on the fundraiser.

Salgado said his father opened the restaurant in Toronto and offered Spanish Tapas long before it was a thing in the city.

"It is the oldest around," Salgado told blogTO. "Back in the day people didn't know what Tapas were."

The restaurant moved to the Danforth in 2002.

Salgado is well-known in the industry having been featured on television shows such as the Food Network's "Christine Cushin Live" and "Kitchen Equipped."

Tapas may not translate well to takeout and the restaurant is also known for its live Flamenco shows — something they haven't been able to do since March.

"Our whole theme is the social dining with entertainment."

Salgado said he has watched businesses around him close during the pandemic and has survived this long because the landlord has allowed them to pay what they can for rent.

"The only reason we are still around is because we have a sympathetic landlord," he said.

But the second lockdown is taking its toll. Last week the restaurant only made $300 from take out orders, he said.

"It was our worst week since this whole thing started."

He is not sure why orders have gone down but he has seen other places give up.

"Restaurants are going under right and left," he said.

At $300 a week, there is no way to pay much of the rent.

What makes things more difficult is the message from officials is to avoid restaurants and small businesses, he said.

"The first place they tell people not to go to is restaurants," he said. "You can go to Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Costco and Walmart because there is no COVID there but restaurants you have to be careful."

December is normally one of the best months in the restaurant industry. He expects they may not be able to open until January, typically a poor month in the industry.

He thinks it is going to be a long road back to recovery.

"If we can get the additional help from our customers and the public, maybe we will get through this really tough December," he said.

Lead photo by

Tapas at Embrujo

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