Famous Caribbean restaurant in Toronto has come a long way since its humble beginnings
A Caribbean restaurant in Toronto has held strong at its location for 12 years, but started out with the owner's involvement at her family kiosk at Harbourfront Centre for over a decade.
Their "One Love Corn Soup" and seasoned corn was a staple at summer festivals held at Harbourfront.
One Love Vegetarian was opened as a physical storefront in 2009.
"My aim and objective was to open a restaurant where I would bring my own family to get a plant based meal," Ikeila Wright, who calls herself "CEO in charge of cheffing, prepping, floor mopping, accounts and making sure that the food at One Love Vegetarian stays on point," tells blogTO.
Before opening the restaurant Wright held the equally impressive title of stay-at-home mom for over 20 years.
"I wanted to branch out and have a business of my own," says Wright.
"One Love Vegetarian was my opportunity to be an independent business person."
She's been at the helm of the business for its entire existence. While Wright may be a pioneer in the Toronto vegetarian Caribbean scene, she's far from the first to blaze that trail, even in this location.
"We are located in what was formerly Joyce's West Indian Foods," says Wright.
"Joyce's was one of the first Caribbean grocery stores in Toronto opening in 1979. It was also was of the oldest Caribbean-owned businesses in the city, closing its doors in 2007."
"There are also the up-and-coming vendors that you will find at vegetarian festivals and music festivals in the summer months," says Wright.
The Joyce's destination has been a huge benefit to the restaurant over the years with its location right across the street from Bathurst subway station.
"We are in front of the streetcar loop which gives us visibility to commuters on the streetcars," say Wright.
However, she also says a lot of people pass them up because they're headed to Bloor, in the opposite direction.
The vegetarian restaurant has a stripped-down menu but still serves their famous corn soup.
They also do whole wheat or paratha roti and curries with chickpeas and potatoes or TVP soy protein, and for roti you can also get a filling of Jamaican pumpkin.
Curries are served with plentiful sides of basmati rice and peas, an organic side salad, fried plantain and avocado.
Callaloo (Jamaican greens) is seasoned and steamed, and served with boiled green banana and Jamaican sweet potato.
Their BBQ tofu stir fry is actually one of their most popular dishes, but it's also one of their most closely guarded secrets: Wright won't tell me how it's made.
"From the time we opened our doors, One Love Vegetarian has enjoyed a diverse cross section of patrons," says Wright.
"I can't say our clientele has changed over the years. Everyone is welcome at One Love. Diversity is what makes Toronto the remarkable city that it is."
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