wish toronto

Toronto brunch restaurant is permanently closing after over 20 years

A Toronto restaurant that was known for serving great brunch, including delicious French toast and turkey burgers, has announced it's permanently closing.

"22 years later we have decided to close Wish. It's just time," reads a post from the restaurant near Yonge and Bloor.

"When we opened in 2001 we sought to create a shabby chic eatery, just south of Bloor and north of Miami. We never anticipated being open for more than two decades but here we are. More than what we could have ever asked for."

"The restaurant itself was very busy, viable and one would even call us crazy to close, but it was just time, because of so many overwhelming circumstances leading us down this path," Wish owner Nadya Mancini tells blogTO.

She says any capital or reserve the restaurant had was used during lockdowns on things like bills, rent and security measures while they were closed. (The restaurant was also robbed and vandalized in that period.)

"Commercial landlords like ours were completely tone-deaf to our struggles and still expected rent and maintenance while we were closed. Any rent when you are 100 per cent closed is impossible to maintain," says Mancini.

"When the government imposed the landlords to charge 25 per cent of rent, the government did not protect tenants that had rent structures that included additional rent charges. Base rent is one price. Additional rent is TMI - taxes, maintenance and insurance, and was not considered in this rent control, which, in our case, specifically adds up to $30,000 a year."

By the time Wish reopened after lockdowns, they were already facing a deficit as well as additional costs for safety measures like PPE.

"The strategy of asking the food and beverage industry to close and then applying for loans upwards to $250,000 and paying interest is not feasible, and we're going to see that more and more in the future. You cannot recover, it's that simple, no matter how busy you are. You won't catch up," says Mancini.

"The inflation in food cost and the staffing epidemic is a huge problem in the industry. There is a major shift, and all of it is making the restaurant industry unrecognizable."

Mancini also has had growing concerns about the area where Wish and her other restaurants 7 West and Smith are located, saying she and many of her staff "do not feel very safe."

"My partner Renda and I work together constantly but have to be away from each other every summer and it's just too much of a price to pay.  The Lakeside Motel, [which we also own,] was supposed to be a quaint motel in Wellington and turned into a full-blown resort. We need to back the right horse, for lack of better words," says Mancini

"7 West is well established but its niche is 24 hours. It has benefited from the food delivery partners and seems to be easier to manage. Smith is starting to open evenings again in addition to the busy brunches. However, Church Street is a bit of mess right now. If we are not careful and if they don't clean up Barbara Hall Park, Smith will follow the same fate as Wish. We're really hoping to see an improvement."

She says Wish is also in need of renovations which they don't have the money for due to their funds being wiped out during lockdown. When Wish closes for good, a Chinese restaurant is slated to move into its place.

The last day for Wish will be November 13.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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