hirut toronto

Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto is a hotbed for good food and live music

The pandemic has been disastrous to countless small businesses, but according to Tibebe Woldemichael of Hirut on Danforth East, things are picking up especially in terms of the response to their live music series.

"It is a complete change," says Woldemichael. "Number One: the city is allowing us to use the curbside patio, so we use that to do live shows....CaféTO was the best thing to happen to Hirut, because of course we cannot have a capacity indoors. The only problem is when the rain comes and you have to cancel the show."

Located at 2050 Danforth Ave. just steps away from Woodbine subway station, Hirut is fortunate to be located in a particularly music-friendly zone.

"We have been working with the BIA who have been sponsoring shows and paying musicians on our patio. I hope this continues to happen – helping the musicians and venues – this pilot program is going on until the end of October, and everyone should support it," explained Woldemichael to blogTO.

Unlike many other restaurants who go on to hire live entertainment, Hirut was by design a music venue. Woldemichael was a banker for decades but in his heart he had a dream: opening a restaurant and bar which would pair his wife's Ethiopian cooking with a stage for live jazz music.

"In the past we have done music, comedy, poetry indoors. So people before would walk by…or drive by and stop at the light, they see live music happening and you could see the music making them smile.So there has been a lot of traffic and we are actually very busy now, and have live music 5 nights a week," Woldemichael explained.

He even suggests that businesses has improved so much it's better than in was before Ontario first went into lockdown.

The food at Hirut is another reason to visit. The pared down menu features traditional spiced meat dishes including tibs and kitfo, as well as a vegetarian option, all priced affordably between $14 and $16.

Good food, a warm atmosphere, friendly vibe and excellent acoustics are all important qualities Hirut has going for it but what makes Hirut really work is the talent, much of which resides steps away.

"This neighbourhood is really good for live music. There are so many musicians who live in this area – Reg Schwager, Paul Novotny, they just drag their instrument in here and play. In a small family Ethiopian restaurant! You won't find a place like this anywhere," suggests Woldemichael.

While live music has flourished on the patio, not all events have been so lucky.

"The comedy night is what I miss right now," says Woldemichael. "The name of the show is Hirut Hoot, and it was produced by Carolyn Bennett and Kevin MacDonald, and they brought in the most fabulous comics. We used to do it on the last Friday of every month. The day we are able to present this again at Hirut will be a great day."

Live event listings are updated regularly on Hirut's website.

Lead photo by

Ori Dagan

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