naru izakaya toronto

Japanese restaurant in Toronto permanently closes after less than 2 years

An izakaya joint that had opened in Toronto with unfortunate timing has announced they've now permanently closed down.

Japanese restaurant Naru Izakaya opened in June 2020, launching themselves headlong into over a year of yo-yoing lockdowns and restrictions.

"It has been quite a journey," the restaurant wrote in a closing announcement post on Instagram.

The restaurant had a 16-seat patio, but was located in the Yonge and College area, where it might have enjoyed more business had more people been walking around downtown or going to work in offices.

Their extensive menu consisted of options like fried items, tabletop grill items, ramen and curries. Naru was an evolution of Jinya Ramen, an US-based franchise that once had a location in Toronto and still has locations in Vancouver and Calgary.

"Unfortunately with the outbreaks of COVID-19, we have been impacted heavily throughout our time in operation," the restaurant's announcement reads.

"While we've made every effort to survive this difficult time, we are deeply saddened that Naru will be ceasing operation at the restaurant location effective immediately."

The restaurant explored lots of different ways to generate sales during the tough period, including promos on third-party delivery apps, frozen meal kits, special holiday meals, fan club group sales, private events and media promotion.

"Dine-in has been closed in downtown Toronto for wave one to four for many many months. It was a detrimental hit on the business as 90% of the revenue heavily relied on dine-in services," Naru's owner Jacky Ho tells blogTO.

"Another hardship was the significantly higher employee resignation. Servers and kitchen helpers quit the job thinking they earn less compared to staying at home and receiving government funding."

There was ongoing communication with the landlord, but the landlord didn't provide Naru any relief. Government funding was not enough to cover wages, rent and the cost of food and utilities.

"I have been exhausting all my personal savings and credits to support this restaurant hoping to get through," says Ho. "However, when dine-in closure was announced starting Jan. 5, 2022, I hardly see any hope for dine in recovery. For me, there is no further plan yet."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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