restaurants toronto

Toronto restaurants cautiously optimistic they won't be closed for indoor dining again

As restrictions lift in Toronto on Jan. 31 with restaurants allowed to open for dine-in at 50 per cent capacity, owners are optimistic they'll never have to close for indoor dining again.

While lots of places got creative with takeout and delivery options, it was still sad that their beautiful dining rooms that took so much effort to build sat empty.

Bar Mordecai had just transformed dull real estate offices into a lush Wes-Anderson-inspired wonderland at the dawn of 2020, not knowing that their then-packed interior would soon have to stay empty.

"I think there is a lot of hopeful energy right now, for guests and the hospitality industry, that this will be the last time we will see a full lockdown," Mordecai owner Emily Leblanc tells blogTO. 

"That said, we have all also learned to be cautious with our optimism."

A lot was invested in design and operating infrastructure at the spacious restaurant, which has spent the majority of its time open labouring under restrictions.

"At Mordecai, we are just looking forward to working with our full team together again, seeing our guests come back, and the space come back to what it was meant to do. We weren't designed to be a takeout business," says Leblanc.

"Being able to be open indoors is the only version of our business that truly makes sense. It is a relief to get back to that."

restaurants toronto

The intimate, romantic interior of Il Covo. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Italian restaurant Il Covo similarly relies on its atmosphere as a huge part of what makes it tick. Full of nooks and crannies, the moody space is inspired by Venice.

"I feel we'll be open for the long haul now but you never know, a new variant would do the trick," owner Ryan Campbell tells blogTO.

"Having the doors open for indoor dining often feels like the only way to survive. Running a restaurant is tough enough as it is let alone dealing with full closures. Having the doors open this week is a beautiful feeling and will hopefully we'll bring in enough revenue to pay the bills, but I'm optimistic."

restaurants toronto

Dining room at Jules Bistro back when it was allowed to be packed. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Jules Bistro owner David Piltz is also looking forward to being open indoors, but similarly still has concerns about bills while still being restricted to 50 per cent capacity.

"Our biggest concern is that at 50 per cent capacity it will be a challenge to keep all our staff fully employed and our fixed overheads paid for," Piltz tells blogTO.

There's a ray of hope in the fact that Jules is booked to their max allowable capacity for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1., even though it's still only half of what's needed to cover expenses.

"From the reservations we have received so far it appears our customers are excited to being able to dine with us again," says Piltz.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez at Bar Mordecai


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Eat & Drink

This adorable ice cream shop near Toronto is totally bathed in pink

Someone in Toronto just quit their job to make waffles full time

You can dine in the gardens of Casa Loma starting next month

Owner of popular cupcake chain that closed is opening a new bakery in Toronto

Four-year-old daughter of laid-off Toronto flight attendant blowing up on social media

Closed Coffee Time location to be taken over by one of Toronto's top burger joints

There's now a monthly event in Toronto where you can drink coffee with a police officer

Toronto restaurant with hidden back patio closes and transforms into something new