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The team behind 416 Snack Bar takes on Chinatown with a new multi-level restaurant

(Image: Jenna Marie Wakani)

Chef Dustin Gallagher at last spring’s Stop Night Market (Image: Jenna Marie Wakani)

These days, the mottled façade of the now-closed People’s Eatery—a place that once dubiously claimed to serve the best Peking duck in town—doesn’t look like much. One could easily assume it’s just the tattered leftovers of an unremarkable Chinatown dive, poised to become yet another Chinatown dive. But inside, big things are happening.

Four dust-coated guys are building what could be the most ambitious restaurant the neighbourhood has seen in years. Anyone who’s stuffed their faces with pork buns and Trini doubles at Queen and Bathurst may recognize them: they’re 416 Snack Bar founders Adrian Ravinsky and David Stewart, bartending vet Matt See, and early 416 mentor Dustin Gallagher, who is fresh off a stint as chef at the erstwhile Acadia. The four have partnered up to open a new 416 offshoot on Spadina, just north of Dundas. In homage to the building’s past, the upcoming multi-level restaurant will take the same name as its predecessor: People’s Eatery.

“We had a taste of success at 416,” says Ravinsky, applying a coat of epoxy to the upper-level floor of the gutted space. “And now we have more resources. We’re not going to take that for granted.”

The roughly 1,800-square-foot space will seat around 80 and house two dining rooms in one. The downstairs will be similar to 416, with a laid-back ambiance and a snack-focused menu (we’re told to expect lots of smoked meat as a tribute to Spadina’s Jewish history). The upstairs will be a more refined room where Gallagher can essentially do whatever he wants. The former Top Chef contestant has a longstanding relationship with the 416 team, having developed the restaurant’s opening menu back in 2011. The new gig will give him the flexibility to get as high-end or as low-end as he feels at any given moment.

It may seem like an incongruous addition to the neighbourhood, but Chinatown is changing. It’s become fertile ground for slick new businesses like Dark Horse, Hotel Ocho, Strada 241 and the upcoming Lucky Red. Ravinsky is well aware that he and his associates could be seen as gentrifiers, but he’s confident that this stretch of Spadina has a vibrant future. “The neighbourhood has already had a significant change in its history, and it’s ready for another one,” he says.

An official launch date hasn’t been set, but the new People’s Eatery should be open “sometime between now and Christmas.”

  • bruce_in_to

    Does this restaurant have accessible washrooms, entryway and barrier free seating?

  • Ryan Abreo

    416 has been killing it for years – I can’t wait to see what they do with this new location. Congrats guys!

  • spitz

    Yeah, and what they are killing next is Chinatown. Spare me another hipster spot that is just like all the others.

  • Madeleine Butler

    Who cares if it is hipster? They serve great food, and that is where it counts.

  • spitz

    Yeah, you’ve just proved my point. Its not all that counts, which I think is what you meant to say.

  • Madeleine Butler

    ? I do not believe I proved your point… which as I understand is that we should classify people and only dine in places where certain classes situate. I am not “hipster” and I love Snack Bar because I love food.

  • spitz

    No you don’t understand at all the point I’m making. I’m happy you love food. And if you love 4 Its got nothing to do with classifying people – its the exact opposite. Its about preserving diversity of all kinds. So called gentrification is destroying the diversity of Toronto. Areas that once had a mix of classes are rapidly disappearing.

  • Madeleine Butler

    Well, unfortunately I do not think 416 is going to have an impact on diversity in Toronto. Considering that their food, music, and staff are all very diverse. My attitude seams hipster? I do not even really know what you mean… considering that your idea of hipster has clearly been murked by the way the media portrays certain types of style, attitudes etc. And that is sad because you seam relatively intelligent. But if you care so much about diversity then why would you exhibit the very attitude that destroys it? Creating a negative meaning to anyones way of expressing themselves (or personally just getting dressed in the morning in whatever someone wants to throw on), is what creates a divide in cultures and oppresses any kind of diversity.

  • Madeleine Butler

    And you clearly view yourself as the anti-hipster, so anyone that disagrees with you will likely be categorized as hipster. I personally do not live my life even attempting to categorize myself because I do not even fully understand all of these labels. I have so far lived a very diverse life and been exposed to multiple religions and cultures. If someone’s opinion lends themselves to being placed under a certain label then unfortunately your opinion lacks credibility.

  • spitz

    A lot of people don’t appreciate, understand, or in some cases, not necessarily yours, care about the impact of their choices/actions on broader communities or issues. Go in peace and enjoy your 416 snacks.

 

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