le select toronto

Condo developers take over ownership of popular French restaurant in Toronto

Popular Toronto French restaurant Le Select has put out a statement announcing that ownership will be changing hands to a condo developer who is currently looking for a new operator "with great care."

"The future looked bleak and it seemed that time was running out for us. Enlisting for another five to ten year fight from the trenches just for survival was not our preferred option," Le Select owner Frédéric Geisweiller told blogTO.

"Instead we will work with our ex-staff, who has displayed such competency and loyalty over the years, to help them put together a proposal to operate Le Select that would fit with the new owner's plans and designs for the property."

Allied Properties will be taking over ownership of the property.

"Allied is a company with a vision we admire. They build pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods. They believe in preserving heritage buildings, making beautiful designs by leading architects, and meeting Platinum LEED standards to leave the smallest footprint. They are exactly the people we want to do business with," reads Le Select's statement.

"The upcoming development projects in our immediate area were going to turn the entire neighbourhood into a giant construction site. Noise, fumes, dust or mud already had in the past years prevented us from running our outdoor terrasse in the summer during the days, when it was sunny," says Geisweiller.

"Meanwhile, this activity was eroding our sales, it was putting pressure on land value, the benchmark on which property taxes are calculated.

Our efforts in 2019 to have the property tax system overhauled and made fairer had gained traction and there was a lot of support for reform amongst the business community and municipal and provincial elected officials. The COVID-19 crisis eclipsed the issue."

Le Select has been vocal in the past about what they saw as unfair tax increases which have pushed them to the brink of closure before, driven up by assessments that classified the property's "highest and best use" as a development site.

"We were in for another fight with MPAC as their next four-year assessment is expected anytime soon. Meanwhile the virus had emptied what was left of offices, workshops and studios. Before people return to public places, the lack of confidence which was exhibited would have to disappear. This did not seem likely in the foreseeable future," says Geisweiller.

"We also knew that operating at less than 100 per cent capacity and removing every other table as earlier mandated by the province would kill the atmosphere, the high energy, and the conviviality that were the hallmarks of Le Select’s experience. A reopening would have to be ramped up slowly and progressively and this would take time and cost money."

Though bistro's statement ends with an obituary-style "Le Select Bistro, 1977-2021," it seems as though the restaurant could stay open, just under different ownership and possibly transformed in some way.

"For the first time, Le Select is in new hands. Allied, the new owners, are looking for an operator to manage the restaurant. They are doing it with great care. They know that the tiles and timber of 432 Wellington Street West are marinated in joy," reads the statement.

"We don't know yet what will happen in the sunny future after Covid. It may be the Le Select that you remember. It may change a little or a lot. But we think our legacy is in good hands."

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