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First they came for the Sam the Record Man sign, and we said nothing

inglis-billboard (Well, actually we did say a few things.) Now, the CBC reports that another piece of iconic (or, at any rate, very old) neon advertising has disappeared: the Inglis billboard next to the Gardiner Expressway. The sign survived for decades after being put up in 1975, but it couldn’t survive the condo boom. It was removed because tall buildings have obscured the site, making it less desirable for advertising.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Joe Cressy, who lost to Adam Vaughan in a federal by-election, is now going after Vaughan’s former city council seat

The 30-year-old, an NDP operative and activist, failed in his bid to take over for Olivia Chow as Trinity-Spadina’s MP when Vaughan, a two-term councillor, stepped in as the Liberal candidate in June’s by-election. This morning Cressy announced that he’ll be trying, instead, to win Vaughan’s now-vacated seat at city hall, as Trinity-Spadina’s councillor. He joins a crowded field of candidates in Ward 20 (more than two dozen are registered) but his close association with NDP-affiliated political figures like Chow, councillor Mike Layton and former MPP Rosario Marchese makes him a clear front-runner.

The Dish

Coffee and Tea

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White Squirrel coffee is coming to Rosedale

The popular Queen West café is branching out into slightly yuppier territory with a new outpost at Yonge and Roxborough. Signage is reportedly up outside Earth Rosedale’s old space at 1055 Yonge Street, directly across from one of the neighbourhood’s existing coffee institutions, Caffe Doria.

The Informer

Politics

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On Toronto’s whiny, cynical attitude toward efforts to improve public transit:

 

Etobicoke will never see eye to eye with the Annex, needless to say. Yet even among urbane downtown types, you can see the conflict. They want the city to be “world class,” but they cling to bizarre small-town sensibilities for dear life: grace periods on parking tickets, parking on major streets as of 9:00 am, buses that stop for every sprinting would-be passenger. They want an airport link that’s cheap, and that stops eight times along the way so it’s fair to everyone, but also lighting fast. They want a city that runs like clockwork without inconveniencing a single person along the way.

 
This sober, completely accurate thought is brought to you by the Post’s Chris Selley, whose column in today’s paper is well worth reading all the way through.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Colette, the massive French restaurant in the Thompson Hotel, is opening this week

The new restaurant—formally named Colette Grand Café and Bakery—is owned by The Chase Hospitality Group, the same corporate entity behind The Chase, The Chase Fish and Oyster and soon-to-open Little Fin. Colette will encompass a posh, 150-seat bistro and a more casual grab-and-go café, both overseen by executive chef Michael Steh. The restaurant makes its debut on Thursday, July 31.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Caplansky’s has big (but secret) expansion plans

Earlier this week, Zane Caplansky hinted on his blog that big changes were coming for his deli business, which already comprises a College Street restaurant, a food truck and a pair of soon-to-open sandwich counters at Pearson International Airport. “Next year will see us continue to grow in ways that will likely surprise many,” he wrote. “More shock and awe I expect but time will tell.” Some parts of the deli-domination plan are already in the works: Caplansky recently hired Mark Cutrara, the former co-owner and chef at defunct Parkdale restaurant Cowbell, to take over the deli’s kitchen. According to Caplansky, Cutrara will play an “important role” in a Caplansky’s spin-off, opening later this year.

The Goods

Shopping

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Yorkville newsstand Maison de la Presse closes its doors for good

One of the city’s last authentic newsstands, Yorkville’s Maison de la Presse, shut down on Tuesday. The shop was a go-to destination for Torontonians looking to browse hard-to-find international fashion magazines, foreign newspapers and a wide selection of Francophone reading material. Not surprisingly, the retailer had been steadily losing customers to online sources for a while, according to the Star. 

The Informer

Sports

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Jon Bon Jovi’s investment group is still trying to bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto

We know this because an anonymous person with knowledge of the doings of the ’80s rock guy and his friends tells the Associated Press that the group is getting increasingly serious about its bid. Apparently, the group’s latest move has been to conduct a feasibility study of potential NFL stadium sites in the GTA, including one on the waterfront. (Probably in the Port Lands, which seem to be the conceptual dumping ground for everyone’s pet megaprojects.) The terms of the Bills’ lease prevent its owners from selling to anyone who plans to move the team prior to 2022.

The Dish

Restaurants

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The new downtown Pizzeria Libretto is almost a reality

Zagat Toronto spoke to Libretto co-owners Max Rimaldi and Rocco Agostino, who confirmed that the new downtown location—housed in a PATH-accessible office tower at 155 University Avenue—will open sometime in September. The new spot will be similar to the Ossington and Danforth locations, with a few decorative concessions to the area’s expense-account-wielding clientele. “Instead of vinyl seating it’ll be leather seating,” Agostino said. “Instead of barn board it will be refined wood.” The menu, however, will stay the same.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Ex-mayor John Sewell on why mediocre development projects get city hall’s approval:

“Councillors don’t debate the rezonings happening in someone else’s ward. They simply defer to whatever the local councillor wants. There’s an unspoken rule that you don’t stick your nose into someone else’s ward and they won’t stick their noses into yours.” In other words, Sewell (writing for Post City) believes one reason Toronto has so many tiny condos with crappy layouts is that local politicians have some kind of code of honour that prevents them from meddling in often-lucrative development deals beyond the borders of their own districts. City councillors themselves, meanwhile, remain content to blame the OMB.

The Dish

Food Shops

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Jellyfish gelato is available now on Queen West

Sweet Olenka, the Etobicoke chocolate shop turned Queen West pop-up, has broken away from the pack in Toronto’s race to to find the weirdest ice-cream flavour possible. According to the Star, owner Olenka Bazowski recently debuted a seafood-flavoured cone. Bazowski makes a jelly out of pulverized jellyfish and maple syrup, mixes it with miso-flavoured ice cream and then flash-freezes the blend, turning the jellyfish component into “sweet and crisp” beads. She ranks this particular experiment as “level 3 weird.” Scary to think what a five would be.

The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford hired a drug enforcer to coach high school football

Another day, another shady Rob Ford buddy. Meet Peter Payman (a.k.a. Payman Aboodowleh, Payman Aboodowieh and/or Pejman Aboodowleh), who hid his criminal past from the Toronto Catholic District School Board so he could join the mayor on the sidelines as a fellow coach for the Don Bosco Eagles—back before Ford was ousted from the job, that is. [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

Real Estate

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Real estate website Zoocasa is offering rebates on broker commissions in Toronto

Rogers Communications rolled out a revamped version of Zoocasa, its online resource for home buyers, this week, and along with a new, cleaner look that’s heavy on infographics, the site’s promising to repay consumers a portion of their broker commission. Users who connect to agents through Zoocasa’s free referral service and then close the sale or purchase of a home will get about 15 per cent of the commission back in cash and gift cards for retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears or Canadian Tire. (On a $500,000 home, the consumer would get $1,683 in cash and $240 in gift cards.) Zoocasa has also obtained a brokerage licence as a back-door way to access up-to-date listings data from the Toronto Real Estate Board, meaning it, like Realtor.ca, now displays every property available through MLS. (Previously, Zoocasa only published listings from specific agents with whom it had deals.) Still, unlike similar house hunting sites in the U.S., Zoocasa still can’t display past sales information—unless Canada’s Competition Bureau can win an upcoming appeal and force TREB to loosen its vice grip on the information.

The Dish

Restaurants

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A new seafood spot named Geraldine is moving into Cowbell’s previous Parkdale digs

Former Cowbell chef Peter Ramsay, who also did a stint as the chef de cuisine at Sidecar in Little Italy, is opening a new seafood restaurant in early July at 1564 Queen West, where Mark Cutrara’s bistro Cowbell resided for six years before closing in February. Geraldine is named after Ramsay’s grandmother and will serve seafood instead of meat. The restaurant will also do afternoon tea on the weekend—a dainty departure from Toronto’s current obsession with gut-busting brunches. [NOW]

The Informer

Real Estate

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Humber Valley Village residents enlist an architect—and Rob Ford— to fight a condo development

A proposal from First Capital Realty to build a 65,000-square-foot mixed-used development on the site of the Humbertown strip mall in Etobicoke has local residents, including mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug, concerned for the neighbourhood’s suburban character. The proposal comprises five buildings containing 576 apartment units, 28 townhouses, 21,000 square metres of commercial space and underground parking. Councillor Gloria Lindsay-Luby and neighbours say it will bring traffic congestion and an unwelcome spike in population density, and the mayor himself showed up at a Etobicoke Community Council meeting last night to put magnets on the cars in the parking lot slam the scheme and remind developers that “this isn’t downtown, this Etobicoke.” Meanwhile, the residents’ association has hired an architect to draw up a proposal for the kind of development they might support, which has 202 residential units, a town square and a maximum building height of six stories rather than 12. First Capital, however, says it’s not planning to adjust its plans before city council considers them at a June 11 meeting. [Globe and Mail]

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