Two restaurants with over 40 years of history have permanently closed in Toronto
Two Portuguese restaurants in Toronto have closed down this month as a result of the pandemic, one of which had been a staple of the city since 1977.
Alex Rei dos Leitões first opened in 1977, and in 1996 was purchased by the Bento family who had dreams of bringing their love for Portuguese food to Toronto and expanding on the idea further.
Years later, they opened Molicerio as more of a fine dining option to expand their brand.
After a fire in 2018 and a nightmareish year spent dealing with the insurance company, things only got worse as the pandemic limited their ability to serve customers.
Like many other restaurants, the team tried to adapt by running a takeout service out of Moliceiro but were managing only about $2,000 a month in sales against over $4,000 in fixed expenses.
"My clientele don't know me for takeout, the dine in service is what made the restaurant what it was," Nuno Francisco De Rocha Bento General Manager of Moliciero told blogTO.
The Ontario government flip-flopping on whether restaurants could be open, and what restrictions they faced made things even worse for Bento and his family, having to start, stop, and restart all over again.
"It was harder getting my restaurant restarted again than starting it from scratch," Bento explained. "Once you get a restaurant going it's a big machine, it's a train, having the whole thing abrubtly stop is painful."
The decision to officially shut both restaurants down was made in early May with Bento's parents having recently retired and decided to move back to Portugal.
Once the province begins to open up again, and things return to normal, Bento does hope to eventually revive both restaurants starting with Alex Rei dos Leitões as its long history in Toronto deserves a comeback.
For now, he's running Ossington Garden Cannabis Shop out of the old Alex Rei dos Leitões location and plans to manage that business until reopening a restaurant becomes more feasible.
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