gentrification

The Dish

Restaurants

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Joe Pantalone swoops in to limit west-end nightlife—again

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Toronto’s would-be mayor Joe Pantalone is coming down hard on one of the city’s most popular nightlife destinations. After similar moves against Ossington and Harbord, the councilman is now supporting a motion put forth by residents living near the busy stretch of Queen West between Dovercourt and Gladstone. The proposal, which seeks to clarify the term “restaurant” and to limit patio sizes, was approved by Toronto and East York Community Council but still has to pass city council. Pantalone claims that this section of Queen experienced “too much change, too fast” and that “a sense of equilibrium was lost.” Perhaps we have a different definition of “fast,” but The Drake, The Social and The Gladstone have been up and running for years (even the Starbucks at Dovercourt, famously graffitied “Drake you ho this is all your fault,” opened in 2005). We wonder what the construction of the Bohemian Embassy and West Side Lofts condo projects will do to that equilibrium.

• In search of more balance on West Queen West [National Post]

The Goods

Stores

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Shoppers Drug Mart will open at Queen and John

urbanplanet

(Photo via Google Street View)

Last week, Urban Planet closed the doors on its massive store at 262 Queen Street West (the same building that once housed Caban), and the latest news is that Shoppers Drug Mart will be taking over the 20,000-square-foot space. The story was reported today in the National Post as the official sign of “long-coming death of Queen Street West bohemia,” though we’d never associate chain clothing store Urban Planet with bohemia.

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The Dish

Closings

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Carman’s Dining Club steak house finally put out of its misery

Carman's Dining Club, 1959-2009 (Photo courtesy of Google)

Carman's Dining Club, 1959-2009 (Photo courtesy of Google)

Arthur Carman’s storied and troubled steak house on Alexander Street went into hibernation this summer, never to wake up. This makes the restaurant—credited with introducing Toronto to garlic bread—the latest Village establishment to disappear in recent months (the list also includes Crews and Tango, Bigliardi’s, Il Fornello and Zelda’s).

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Jolt of caffeine: 13 new independent cafés open in Toronto

Brew colours: Espresso's popularity endures (Photo by Iain Farrell)

Brew colours: coffee houses are sprouting up everywhere this recession (Photo by Iain Farrell)

While McDonald’s, Tim Hortons and Starbucks duke it out across North America in their giveaway coffee war, a new batch of independent brewers has emerged in Toronto. Since our last roundup six months ago, at least 13 new cafés have opened up. Here, organized by neighbourhood, is our survey of the city’s hot new fuel-up joints.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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The Ossington Guide

Lovers likely awaiting a table at Foxley, a popular Ossington Avenue restaurant (Photo by Jessica Darmanin)

Lovers likely awaiting a table at Foxley, a popular Ossington Avenue restaurant (Photo by Jessica Darmanin)

Over the past few years, we’ve watched the Ossington strip evolve from a no-go set of dodgy storefronts to an edgy Queen West offshoot to the city’s hippest drag—a gentrification so rapid that city council recently imposed a year-long moratorium on licensing new bars and restaurants. While residents and entrepreneurs face off over growing pains, we traipsed the avenue, day and night, to compile a user’s guide to Toronto’s latest eating and drinking destination.

View the guide>>

The Dish

People

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Rosewater’s former chef, Paul Boehmer, jumps on the Ossington bandwagon with his new restaurant

Ossified: The avenue is changed forever (Photo by Dawn Paley)

Ossified: The avenue is changed forever (Photo by Dawn Paley)

How much more can Ossington take? A lot, it seems. The avenue’s seemingly endless gentrification will take another step this summer when chef Paul Boehmer opens his first restaurant, Böhmer. After considering Queen West and Yorkville, the former Rosewater Supper Club chef set his sights on a 5,000-square-foot single-storey building at 93 Ossington Avenue. “I see a real surge of restaurants on Ossington. It’s bringing the whole street alive, and it’s full every day,” says the chef, whose credits also include Scaramouche, Atlas and, more recently, Six Steps. “If you capture a reasonable market—like, don’t charge $45 for an entrée—and keep it to a price range where people can afford it and hang out, they’ll keep coming back.”

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Mark McEwan predicts that Torontonians will “get” his North York version of Dean & Deluca

Mark McEwan, shopkeep

Mark McEwan, shopkeep (Photo by Nikki Leigh McKean)

We’ve been hearing about McEwan—Mark McEwan’s proposed gourmet grocery store—for what seems like eons now. News about it broke in late 2007, with an opening date set for January 2009. But then we were told we’d have to wait another five months. Now, even though controversy is brewing over the store’s gentrifying effects, we are told that the suspense is almost over. Come June, the Bymark chef will open the doors to his supermarket at Lawrence and Don Mills. He envisions the size of his store as somewhere between Pusateri’s and Whole Foods, with aisles of gourmet ingredients and prepared foods tended by employees offering restaurant-style service.

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