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Strada 241 says so long to Chinatown

(Image: Signe Langford)

(Image: Signe Langford)

There’s been much talk lately—some optimistic, some less so—about the influx of trendy, not-particularly-Chinese restaurants opening shop along the Chinatown strip. One of the very first was Strada 241, the weirdly enormous Italian restaurant at 241 Spadina Avenue from brothers (and former TV stars) Michael and Guy Rubino. Despite generally positive reviews, it appears neighbourhood demand for rustic Italian food ultimately wasn’t strong enough to sustain the business past the two-year mark. Yesterday, the Rubinos confirmed over social media that the restaurant has closed. A message on the restaurant’s Facebook page thanks staff members for their enthusiasm and signs off with, “It’s been a slice.” It will be interesting to see what happens next in the 3,800-square-foot space, which always seemed a bit too imposing to house a cozy trattoria. Stay tuned for updates.

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Leslieville is losing its cutest date spot

(Image: Swirl Wine Bar/Facebook)

(Image: Swirl Wine Bar/Facebook)

Swirl Wine Bar, the only place in Toronto to sip wine while snacking on Alice in Wonderland jars of paté and pickled eggs, is closing. Owners Sean Baillie and Janean Currie announced the news on the bar’s website earlier this week, leaving customers with this characteristically whimsical nugget of wisdom: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality.” Swirl’s reality comes to a close at the end of the month. In the meantime, anyone looking to outfit their apartment with tinkly chandeliers and rickety Singer sewing tables should head to Swirl’s Facebook page, where the bar’s furnishings are being listed for sale. Swirl fans have until June 27 to sneak in one last girls’ night or board-gaming session. [Via The Grid]

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Ossington is losing Delux, one of the strip’s oldest restaurants

(Image: Delux/Facebook)

(Image: Delux/Facebook)

All neighbourhoods evolve, but Ossington seems to be doing it faster than most. Now the strip is losing one of its most seasoned inhabitants. Delux, the little restaurant known for serving Cubanos by day and traditional bistro food by night, is closing this month. Owner Corinna Mozo opened Delux over six and a half years ago, back when Ossington was still dominated by auto-repair shops and Vietnamese karaoke bars. Yesterday, Mozo left the following message on the restaurant’s Facebook page:

It’s time to say goodbye. As one of the first to spark Ossington’s revival we’ve had a busy six and half years. Six and a half years of welcoming, feeding and hydrating locals and visitors alike in our dining room. Ossington has grown a lot. It has changed a lot. Now it’s our turn to change.

Mozo also hinted that an “exciting new project” was in the works (a La Cubana spin-off on Ossington, perhaps?). In the meantime, Delux fans should get dialing: the final dinner service is Friday, June 13.

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The Guild calls it quits on Dundas West

(Image: Karolyne Ellicott)

(Image: Karolyne Ellicott)

The Guild may be the latest restaurant to fall victim to Toronto’s oversaturated dining market. BlogTO reports that the roomy eatery at Dundas and Dufferin halted operations last month, and is currently up for sale. The Guild, which opened around this time last year, was known for its over-the-top brunch menu (lobster Benny, foie gras French toast), and also for being one of the few spots in the area that could easily seat a party of more than four people. The long winter appears to have been a struggle, though. We’re not entirely surprised: the place always seemed a bit too big and polished to thrive on a strip of Dundas known for its poky cafés and dives. Interested restaurateurs with $325,000 to spare can check out the real-estate listing here.

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Happy Child closes; west-end revelers lose a late-night snack destination

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

With dozens of late-night snack bars now populating Toronto’s west end, statistics alone seemed to guarantee that not all of them would thrive. The latest to call it quits is Happy Child, the West Queen West dive known for its over-the-top gourmet fast food and creepy Big Boy-style cartoon signage. Just over a year after opening, the bar has shut its doors—at least temporarily.

“We are closed for the time being,” says owner and chef Fan Zhang, who worked at 416 Snack Bar and The Drake before launching his own snack-focused spot. The reason for the closure, according to Zhang, is a heated financial dispute with the building’s landlord. The bar won’t reopen unless or until things are resolved. In the meantime, Zhang is working on an “exciting new development,” the specifics of which are still under wraps. Stay tuned for details.

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Riverdale residents say goodbye to Ruby Eats, Lynn Crawford’s gourmet grocery store

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

Ruby Eats, the gourmet grocery store from celebri-chef Lynn Crawford, is soon to close. For many, the Riverside shop was an easy option for on-the-go lunches or dinners. Fans of Crawford’s homemade goods can take heart, though: the shop isn’t bidding a permanent farewell.

General manager Rissa Sawh assures us that it’s just a hiatus. “We’re just investigating other options at the moment. A lot of the requests that we’ve gotten for catering and events are off-site locations, and we’re realizing that the space just isn’t suitable,” she said. Though they technically have the unit under lease until the beginning of April, they plan to close much sooner than that. “Right now, our doors are open and shut, so to speak. This Saturday, we’re doing one last push for the community, and then likely after that the doors will be closed on that location.”

Details about where and when the store will relocate are still up in the air. For now, the shop is advertising a goodbye sale: everything in the store is marked down by 50 per cent. If you can’t stop by in the next few days, though, fear not. Says Sawh: “All of our goods will absolutely be available for purchase at Ruby Watchco in the meantime.”

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Changing of the French guard: Mount Pleasant’s Mogette is the latest Toronto bistro to call it quits

(Image: Jessica Darmanin)

(Image: Jessica Darmanin)

For years, Toronto’s bistro scene has been relatively immune to the foodie fickleness that’s seen other restaurants’ popularity soaring one week, then plummeting the next. Traditional steak-frites experts like La Palette, or Delux on Ossington, have a timelessness that seems to ensure steady longevity. Lately, though, a culinary French revolution has been simmering: places like Edulis, Café Boulud and Ici Bistro—soon to take over a plush new home at the Windsor Arms—are reinvigorating bistro standards, baking whole hens in nests of hay and topping slabs of foie gras with snarls of fried chicken skin. Meanwhile, longstanding French eateries are closing. In the past year alone, The Corner House, Didier and Tati have all called it quits, as have the pretty Patachou bakeries and the downtown location of Petite Thuet.

The latest to close is Mogette, the little Mount Pleasant bistro run by Daniel Muia, a Didier Leroy protégée. “I think the old-school French style of cooking is becoming sort of passé, in my personal opinion,” Muia told The Grid. “There’s the misconception that French food makes you fat. And the trends are changing, I think the people that used to be the clientele at these restaurants are getting older and not going out to eat as much.”

The restaurant’s new owners reportedly plan on keeping the current name and concept, at least for the time being. Mogette’s existence in its current form ends March 29th. Muia gave a heartfelt thanks to the bistro’s fans over Instagram, plus an invitation to gorge: “Come on up and help me get rid if all this good and wine.”

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Patachou is closing its pair of Toronto patisseries

(Image: Jess W./Yelp)

(Image: Jess W./Yelp)

For 35 years, Toronto patisserie and café Patachou has been sustaining Rosedalers (and, more recently, St. Clair West residents) with simple, comforting French food. Now the family-run business is closing. Talking to The Grid, owner Elizabeth Sidi explained that it was time to take a break from the grueling bakers’ hours. “It’s been a long run and we were lucky to enjoy it very much,” she said. “But now, to get up at 4 a.m., is too much.” Fans of the bakery-café have two months to get their fill of French onion soup and flaky almond croissants: both locations close on May 3rd, 2014.

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Petite Thuet’s financial district shop closing in April

(Image: Danielle Scott)

(Image: Danielle Scott)

For the past five years, local gourmet food chain Petite Thuet’s One King West outpost has been nourishing downtowners with fresh loaves, vac-packed charcuterie and ready-made meals. But on April 30th, the area fixture will shut its doors. The lease on the space has expired, and co-owner Biana Zorich, who runs the company with her husband Marc Thuet, says the space was becoming too pricey. “Rent in the downtown core is getting a bit ridiculous,” she said. Apparently it’s gone up 30 per cent since they opened.

Petite Thuet’s Rosedale and St. Lawrence Market locations will remain open, and Biana says they plan to devote more energy to the company’s thriving wholesale business. She also hints, however, that they are in the “very, very early planning stages” for another Petite Thuet location. Stay tuned for more details.

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Little Italy restaurant Grace calls it quits after six years on College Street

The Grace team in 2011 (Image: Grace/Facebook)

The Grace team in 2011 (Image: Grace/Facebook)

When it opened in 2008, Grace stood out among Little Italy’s unremarkable collection of tired trattorias. Since then, the neighbourhood has experienced a restaurant renaissance. In 2011, Acadia moved in, followed shortly by La Carnita and Bar Isabel, turning the culinary dead zone into a dining destination on par with the busy Ossington strip. Now the pretty bistro at College and Palmerston is closing.

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Dundas West restaurant Brockton General is closing in March

(Image: Ryan Szulc)

(Image: Ryan Szulc)

After a nearly four-year run on Dundas West, Brockton General will be shutting its doors for good in early March. The restaurant has been a hit with critics and diners alike since it opened in 2010, generally filling all of its 27 seats on any given night. It also helped launch some impressive chefs, including Guy Rawlings, now of Bar Isabel and Room 203, and Alexandra Feswick, who recently parted ways with Queen West bistro Samuel J Moore. Brockton General serves its last meal on March 9th. While future plans for the unit are still up in the air, co-owner Pamela Thomson says that the building’s landlord will be taking over the space. “But we are open and running until then with weekly specials!” she assures. “We want to go out with a bang.” This week’s specials are smoked trout pappardelle, pork terrine, and kale and mushroom soup.

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Phil’s Original BBQ closes after two decades at College and Ossington

(Image: Dardana M./Yelp)

(Image: Dardana M./Yelp)

Phil’s Original BBQ, the west-end restaurant that introduced Torontonians to slow-smoked ribs and brisket, is closed. According to BlogTO, an eviction notice was posted on the door late last week, citing more than $30,000 in unpaid rent. Financial matters seem to be at the root of the closure, although owner Phil Nyman wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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The Mad Italian closes its doors after sane moment of epiphany

Mad-Italian-for-lease

The Little Italy location of The Mad Italian (Image: Jon Sufrin)

The Mad Italian Gelato Bar seemed to be on an upward trajectory over the past few years, having expanded twice from its original Leaside location (first to Little Italy in 2011, then to the Danforth in 2012). But owner Eli Turkienicz has confirmed with us that the business is finished, and that all three locations are now closed.

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Dyne closes after just over a year on Avenue Road

(Image: Dyne/Facebook)

(Image: Dyne/Facebook)

Despite its proximity to Yorkville mainstays Sotto Sotto and Spuntini, 120 Avenue Road has been a tricky address for restaurateurs. Short-lived trattoria Maléna lasted just over two years in the space. Now its successor, Richard Andino’s fusion spot Dyne, has met a similar fate. The Iberian-Asian restaurant closed this month after just over a year in business.

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Ethiopian restaurant Addis Ababa may be closed after 20 years on Queen West

(Image: Addis Ababa/Facebook)

(Image: Addis Ababa/Facebook)

Toronto is quickly running out of options for Ethiopian cuisine. As reported in The Grid, M&B Yummy closed last fall, followed by Danforth restaurant Dukem, which hopes to reopen in a new location. Now Addis Ababa, the 20-year-old stalwart on Queen West, also appears to be struggling. The restaurant was served with a notice of distress in early December, citing a hefty sum of unpaid rent and other costs, and its telephone number is now out of service.

Ababa has long been known for its laid-back atmosphere, huge shareable meat and veggie platters and traditional coffee service (complete with burning frankincense). If closed, the restaurant will be missed. That said, injera-lovers need not despair just yet: Nunu, Addis Ababa’s nearby sister restaurant, remains open to meet Torontonians’ misto needs.

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