clintons toronto

Beloved Toronto bar Clinton's temporarily transformed into takeout restaurant

Clinton's Tavern closed abruptly at the end of February, and after a ton of drama the space has been temporarily transformed into a Korean takeout spot by its new owners.

Staff spoke out about the closure and Toronto rushed to support them, and they weren't happy to see the place suddenly taken over by the people behind Echo Karaoke without their knowledge.

Sadly for them and regulars of the 83-year-old bar, it now seems Clinton's and its draft beer, bar food and Choir!Choir!Choir! singalongs are on hold at least for now.

"My family and I bought Clinton's earlier this year. It's been extremely difficult as the pandemic continued to worsen during our tenure with Clinton's. There was so much renovation to be done as the building was left in such poor condition so our vision for Clinton's is still in progress," Daniel You told blogTO. 

"My parents have owned restaurants along Bloor Koreatown for over two decades so naturally they feel comfortable working with Korean cuisine. We decided a pop up Korean street food vendor would be the best course of action to make what little we can to survive this pandemic, and set us up for future success with Clinton's."

The corner black exterior facade of Clinton's has now been made over in cheerful colours with snacks displayed in the windows.

"The stand is named after my parents' last restaurant, MamaDon, and it features classic Korean street food such as ddukpokki (spicy rice cakes), odengtang (fish cake soup) and a deep fried Korean food. We don't allow entry inside, for health and safety reasons and all food is served through a slit in the window as payment is received," says You. 

"Staff is limited to the family who all live within the same household (dad, mom and brother). The locals seem to enjoy it but it's definitely a means of survival more than anything. For Clinton's, being more of a bar than a restaurant, the inability to host club events and have customers indoors makes it impossible for us to thrive and grow our new business."

Seeing as the "vision for Clinton's is still in progress," You says the bar should return to its boozy dance party and singalong roots once the pandemic is over.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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