loch and quay toronto

Businesses cry foul over Toronto restaurant turned ghost kitchen

Relationships have soured between a trio of food businesses and a restaurant on Toronto's waterfront, where chefs have reported being left in the lurch by the owner of Loch & Quay.

Since January, three businesses have taken to social media in a public fallout with Loch & Quay owner Ryan Mungal. 

None of the business owners involved wanted to go on record about the matter, but Mexican food company Tenaz and burger business Keto Food Co. have made public statements on Instagram and Facebook about being left clamouring for kitchen space after suddenly losing their space at Loch & Quay.

Earlier in March, Chen Chen's Hot Chicken also reported on Instagram having to move out of the shared space due to "unforseen circumstances and unexpected construction."

Chef Chen Chen has since opened his own brick-and-mortar on West Queen West, taking over the old Convenience bar space with his menu of fried chicken. Tenaz and Keto Food Co. have not been so lucky.

Tenaz owner Celia Nelson and Keto owner Michael Hay have both hit Instagram and the public Facebook group Food and Wine Industry Navigator about their ongoing search for permanent spaces since leaving Loch & Quay, which has been pivoting into an experimental ghost kitchen format since the summer.

"Showed up for work today to discover there is suddenly no space for us in our shared kitchen any longer," said Nelson in a post on April 18. 

"We just had our busiest day ever, and now have to pack up our operations. But we're not giving up so easily." 

Nelson reports arriving at Loch & Quay's kitchen and finding her things packed in boxes. 

Hay, who initially said he'd been booted out of the space, actually later  confirmed that he'd packed up and left himself after allegedly not having access to a kitchen for three days straight.

For his part, Mungal alleges he was blocked from Food and Wine Industry Navigator by Hay's partner, one of the group's administrators. 

Meanwhile, questions arose in the Facebook community about Loch & Quay's operations and the reasons that have led to multiple small businesses saying they've had the rug pulled out from beneath their feet while trying to find their footing during COVID-19. 

Mungal denies kicking any businesses out of the Loch & Quay, telling blogTO he was "caught off guard" regarding Keto's departure from the space, and that Chen Chen also left the shared kitchen "without notice." 

He insists that all vendors were informed of changes to their kitchen rental agreements, which saw an end to rentals on a "temporary and casual basis" in mid-April.

Mungal also says construction has been ongoing in the 3,000-square-foot space for over a year. He says it's led to temporary kitchen set-ups but, also, reduced rents for businesses. Instead of charging rent, he says he recently proposed switching over to splitting sales 50-50, which he says has been a basis for disagreement for participating partners. 

All this, on top of Loch & Quay reopening its own takeout and delivery service, which necessitated a shift in operations, appears to have contributed to the fallouts. 

But not all vendors have left Loch & Quay's shared kitchen concept. At the time of publication, Ice Creamonology and Taste D West Indies are still operating out of 390 Queens Quay West. According to Mungal, Brazil Box will be joining the space in May. 

Lead photo by

Loch & Quay

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