Cocina de Dona Julia Toronto

Beloved restaurant in Toronto run by a grandma is permanently closing

One of Toronto's few Ecuadorian restaurants has announced they're permanently closing after 15 years in business.

Cocina de Dona Julia specialized in homestyle Ecuadorian dishes like chicharron and horando, and took to social media to make the announcement.

The restaurant was originally opened in 2006 by the nominal Dona Julia and was taken over by a family member in 2016, but she returned to the kitchen in 2020 to the delight of the community.

"This will be our last weekend open. Dona Julia has decided to retire," reads the post.

"We've rented out the space to a new family and they will be opening soon."

"It’s so emotional for me," someone commented on the post. "I legit grew up on grandma Julia's food but she deserves a nice retirement. Don't know where I'm gonna get my hornado fix but I hope someone in the fam carries the torch somehow."

"Noooooo!!!!! Noooooo!!!! Omg!! Where will I find my Ecuadorian food now," someone else wrote.

"Her food was delicious and reminded me so much of my grandmothers cooking," another person commented, while someone else wrote, "I'm Peruvian and I really enjoyed her food."

The closing post says they'll be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday with a partial menu, and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"There are only three people officially that work here. Me, Joe and Julia," Cocina manager and Julia's granddaughter Alex Murudumbay tells blogTO.

"My grandmother's plans are to retire and spend time travelling to her home in Ecuador. Joe is wanting to retire since he's 70 and doesn't think anyone will hire him! As for me, I will be working full time on my own business designing custom products."

Julia owns the building the new family taking over the space will be renting it out, and they'll be opening up their own business at the location around mid-September or October.

Murudumbay will only say, "It won't be Ecuadorian, but it will be a great addition to the neighbourhood."

During this last weekend, you can call ahead to reserve food or walk in for takeout only. You can also still contact Cocina via Instagram to buy Julia's homemade aliño dressing, the rub she uses on her meat.

cocina de dona julia

It's the end of an era for Cocina De Dona Julia.

"The 15 years got to fulfill Julia's dream of opening up a restaurant," says Murudumbay.

"Feeling bittersweet and excited about this being our last weekend. I've been working here for 10 years and it's crazy she's finally retiring. She deserves it though. This lady wakes up at 5 a.m. to start working on prep for the day and she's almost 70."

Lead photo by

Cocina de Dona Julia

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