Popular Mexican restaurant empire expands again with a new Toronto location
A popular local Mexican restaurant chain has expanded with a new location, not expecting to open it just as the pandemic hit.
Playa Cabana started out on Dupont in the Annex, later opening up a Cantina location in the Junction, followed by Hacienda back on Dupont, as well as Barrio Coreano in Koreatown which is currently temporarily closed.
Their newest space, Esquina, has opened up near construction-saturated Yonge and Eglinton.
The restaurants are known for a high-end menu of tacos and cocktails served in dimly lit, high energy atmospheres.
"We never got to open really for full dining," owner Dave Sidhu told blogTO. "It would be comparable at this point to opening a ghost kitchen I imagine."
Despite not being able to welcome diners in for the full Playa experience at the new location, their good reputation and high quality food have kept them afloat.
The area is also saturated with something other than construction: condos.
"So far we have been pleasantly surprised by the volume of orders that we receive and put out for a location that has not yet opened for indoor dining, and serving take out only," Director of Operations Matthew King told blogTO.
"Due to the high density of condos in the area, and with a large amount of people still working from home, we have even been able to open for lunch takeout as well. We also already have a fair amount of return customers, where we are even at the point of knowing who they are just by what they order. Hoping to get to meet them in person some day soon."
They're also hoping that the construction that's making their new Esquina location more difficult to access right now will prove to be an advantage in the long run.
"There definitely have been various challenges, outside of the obvious pandemic related challenges. The construction can at times be a challenge right now for both deliveries of supplies, delivery drivers etc. However when it is done and the subway is operational we know this will be a great addition to the neighbourhood," staff at Esquina told blogTO.
Though their menu is largely the same at Esquina as other Playa Cabana locations, it's the only one serving lunch right now with a range of tacos and burritos.
They also serve beer for takeout and their famous Dave's Margaritas, available in half litre or litre servings.
"The response has been great considering we opened for solely takeout and in a pandemic. The Yonge and Eglinton area residents and businesses alike have been super welcoming and receptive. We look forward to the day we will be able to welcome people for indoor dining," Sales, Events and Catering Manager Sandra Axelsson told blogTO.
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