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Toronto restaurants no longer want you to have their phone number

When it comes to Toronto restaurants these days, there are a lot of them that want you to lose their number.

It might seem counterintuitive: surely on an ideal day at a restaurant, the phone is ringing off the hook with people looking to book reservations far in advance.

For a long time, the stereotypical image of the hottest restaurant in town is one where hosts turn down reservations just to cultivate mystique, like a nightclub letting a long lineup form outside.

However, the restaurant industry continues to examine itself and what's best for its workers, and is also stepping into the modern world of social media. Elements like this are making phone numbers less and less necessary.

Popular wine bar Paris Paris technically has a phone number, but doesn't list it on their website or Google directory listing as calls cause them too much hassle.

"We only have the phone so that we can communicate with customers that already have a reservation but our phone still rings constantly and we would be unable to handle the volume if we used it as our main mode of communication," Paris Paris owner Jonathan Poon tells blogTO.

"Even with one full time staff answering the phone eight hours a day it would not be enough."

Like pretty much every other restaurant, waves of lockdowns and other related factors have left Paris Paris chronically understaffed, and spending hours answering the phone and checking through voicemails simply isn't a worthwhile task for a team member.

The restaurant actually gets a lot of complaints about not having a listed phone number, but they're standing firm on the way they do things.

"We'd rather customers email us because it's easier for both parties to refer back to and more manageable than voicemails," says Poon.

"Customers often have requests that will require the input from our reservations manager and it's just easier to have all the details in an email."

Rice bowl restaurant Onnki Donburi also gets lots of questions about not having a listed phone number, but similarly doesn't use a phone system due to efficiency concerns.

"I know most restaurants use phone, and it's classic and necessary. And some customers prefer phone order, and we also had many requests about it," Onnki Donburi co-founder Terry Lee tells blogTO.

"Bur our priority is, reduce inefficiencies as much as possible, and offer faster and more accurate service for our customers."

Lee echoes Poon's issues with understaffing as it relates to the efficiency of having staff available to answer and return calls.

"We have limited staff and they are human, they cannot do all perfectly," says Lee.

"So we accept all the inquiries by Instagram DM and email now. And our customers prefer this as well, because we focus on online response, then we can do it faster and better."

A representative of Sari NOT Sari, a snack bar taking up residence in the space which was once home to The Shop, tells blogTO they might get a phone number in the future but that it just doesn't make sense to have one right now.

"It's a small business and we don't have the staffing to adequately maintain another form of communication," the rep tells blogTO.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez at Onnki Donburi

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