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Archive for the ‘Arrivals & Departures’ Category

Na na na na hey hey hey Rob Ford, Barrio Coreano and Harvest Kitchen openings, and more this week in the neighbourhood | November 22, 2013

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Heritage & History, This week in the neighbourhood, Toronto politics on November 21, 2013 at 12:45 AM
All is calm at Toronto City Hall following the neutering of Mayor Rob Ford

All is calm at Toronto City Hall following the political neutering of  Mayor Rob Ford

By West Annex News | So the deed is done. Our municipal boil has been lanced. Peace, order and good government reign. You know the details. But here are a few fun items you might have missed:


Doug Ford on CNN with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka stashed under his desk | CNN screen capture via Daily Buzz

Self-avowed teetotaler Doug Ford was interviewed in his office by CNN with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka clearly visible stashed under his desk. [Daily Buzz]

Chris Farley stars in Rob Ford the Movie

Chris Farley stars in Rob Ford the Movie | Image credit: Youtube screen capture

The whole incredible story of Rob Ford’s rise and fall is brought to life in this brilliant short film made entirely out of clips from the movies of the late Chris Farley.

Bill Weir’s take down of both Ford brothers on CNN was a joy to behold, but nothing was more delicious than Rob’s squeals of indignation as former Ford BFF John Oakley roasted the mayor when he called in for an impromptu interview on November 18, the day he was stripped of his powers.

Speaking of Council, here’s the final tally of who voted for what in the various motions that transferred power to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. [Matt Elliott/Metro Canada]

The Rob Ford show overshadowed some of the great work council did this month: funding for the environmental assessment for bike lanes on Bloor and Dupont was approved; councillors moved unanimously to rescue and expand the BIXI bike sharing program;  and new funding was devoted to the backlog of repairs to TCHC properties. [,]


Old City Hall, one of only two building worthy of preservation according the Frank Gehry

Old City Hall, one of only two building worthy of preservation in Toronto–according Frank Gehry

Toronto only has two heritage buildings worth saving, Old City Hall and Osgoode Hall, according to architect Frank Gehry. Suitably dazzled, Toronto and East York Community Council chose to give David Mirvish’s proposal to build trio of 80-storey plus condo towers on King West an express route to Toronto City Council. Council ignored City planning staff’s objections and that of heritage preservationists that the project will wipe away four heritage warehouses and the Princess of Wales Theatre, and further stress overburdened public transit on King Street West. [National Post/The Globe and Mail]


The abandoned Shaw Street School has been transformed into Artscape’s latest affordable living and working space for artists and non-profits including the Luminato Festival and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. [torontoist]


Food and restaurant news:


Harvest Kitchen will soon open at 124 Harbord Street, once the home of Kensington Kitchen and Bistro Tati | Image credit: Google Street view

The beautiful space at 124 Harbord Street once occupied by Kensington Kitchen and later Bistro Tati has been taken over by Harvest Kitchen, which describes itself as “an everyday diner where vegetarians bring their meat-eating friends”. The restaurant plans to preserve Ontario produce onsite starting with the 2014 harvest.  The opening is planned for “any day now” according to the website. [blogTO]

Rakia Bar on 960 Euclid Avenue, just north of Bloor West has opened in the space once occupied by Hrvati Bar. The menu features vegetarian, seafood, Balkan specialties, and suckling pig with advance notice. 

Barrio Coreano, the latest incarnation in the Playa Cabana franchise is scheduled to open this weekend at 642 Bloor Street West. Rajput’s Bistro was the last tenant in this space, just west of Euclid. [blogTO]


Coming up

The 2014 Hot Docs tickets are on sale now

The 2014 Hot Docs tickets are on sale now

Tickets for the March 2014 hotDOCS festival are now on sale on the hotDOCS website

Wednesday November 27 at 6:30PM, Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West: Toronto Public Health, TCAT, and Cycle Toronto are hosting “Walk Cycle Move: the Annex”, a workshop to examine public opinion on proposed project to:

  • reduce speed limits to 30KPH on seven streets in the neighbourhood including Albany, Howland, and Brunswick,
  • explore alterations to Bloor Street to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists,
  • discus the revival of the Environmental Assessment for bike lanes on Bloor.

If you can’t make it to the meeting you can still share your views in a survey here.


Related posts:


Last week in the neighbourhood: Rob Ford’s end days, Indian Rice Factory closing, another megacondo and more.




All images by Louise Morin for West Annex News unless otherwise noted.

Rob Ford’s end days, goodbye to the Indian Rice Factory, another mega-condo for the Bloor-Annex strip, Yorkville tree slaughter, and more this week in the neighbourhood | November 8, 2013

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Heritage & History, This week in the neighbourhood, Toronto politics on November 8, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Image credit: The Simpsons screen capture by Phil Tobin /@RPBRooney on Twitter 12:50PM – 5 Nov 13

By West Annex News | Another busy week in and around the neighbourhood.


This week in Fordlandia

Rob Ford hands out his business cards in happier days

Rob Ford hands out his business cards in happier days

The city is almost numb from this week’s blizzard of increasingly sordid and bizarre rumours and revelations in the Rob Ford saga. Somewhere between the release of yet another video of the mayor staggering and ranting in a drunken stupor, CP24’s interview with his awful mother and the fifth estate’s exposé about organized crime’s attempts to get their hands on the Ford crack video, we all stopped reveling in the salacious details and started wanting it to stop.

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, City Council meets for the first time since the crack scandal reignited. We have high expectations for City Council: no partisanship, no grandstanding by councillors with their own mayoral aspirations (Hello Karen Stintz and Denzil Minnan-Wong). Quickly, without malice, just strip the mayor of all his powers and staff, and get on with the business of the city.


The Indian Rice Factory, an Annex institution for 43 years, closed its doors on November 3, 2013

The Indian Rice Factory closed its doors on November 3, 2013. The restaurant at 414 Dupont at Howland had been in decline since the death of founder, owner and chef Amar Patel three years ago. Patel was a visionary chef who introduced haute Indian cuisine to Toronto in the 1970s, and was a pioneer on the then-mostly industrial Annex-Dupont strip.

While the addition of the lovely Chai Bar in 2011 created hope that the restaurant could be revived, the lengthy reconstruction of the Howland Avenue/CPR underpass dealt a death blow to that enterprise. [blogTO] []


Planning and development news

DTAH design consultants reported their findings from the Bathurst Street Built Form Study to the community on October 22, 2013. They found that the Official Plan and the zoning already in place are appropriate, and that public consultations “underscored the need for more park space along Bathurst and for the preservation of Mirvish Village.” [Inside Toronto]



Architects’ rendering of new 66-storey condominium proposed for 80 Bloor Street West | Image:  archtectsAlliance

Krugarand Corporation has made an application to the City of Toronto to tear down the 18-storey 80 Bloor Street West retail and office tower, and replace it with a 66-storey residential mixed use tower. The building, sandwiched between Harry Rosen and Capezio, currently houses a Gap, Banana Republic, Extreme Fitness and 204,000 square feet of office space. Public consultations are coming. []


Tree slaughter in the Village of Yorkville Park

Tree slaughter in the Village of Yorkville Park

Just when the spruce trees at the east end of the Village of Yorkville Park on Cumberland Street were getting to a nice size, the City chopped them down. Catherine Naismith heard from Kristan Wong-Tam that the trees were removed due to their deteriorating soil beds, caused by a parking garage underneath. New trees will be planted in the spring of 2014. [Built Heritage News]


Early in the new year, Councillor Mike Layton will be hosting public meetings regarding the future of development on Dupont Street. The north side of the street is now zoned as an employment area in the Official Plan. It is facing increasing pressures from developers to to convert the land to residential uses, specifically condominium towers. Layton says “These meetings will be held to help develop a better understanding of how the community would like to see Dupont grow and to receive feedback on specific applications.” []


U of T's proposed Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Image credit: Montgomery Sisam Architects/Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

U of T’s proposed Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Image credit: Montgomery Sisam Architects/Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The University of Toronto revealed plans for a new $50 million Centre for Engineering and Innovation Entrepreneurship. U of T will build the Centre on the site of the parking lot between St. George Street and Simcoe Hall. [Yonge Street]


The City of Toronto has launched a new blog all about Heritage Conservation District studies and plans throughout the city. “The new blog is intended as a resource to learn about milestones, events and ways to participate in the heritage conservation district studies and plans currently underway in the city,” said Councillor Peter Milczyn, Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee, as quoted by Catherine Naismith. The blog also contains a gallery of photos of historic Toronto. [Built Heritage News]


What’s coming up this week:

Remembrance Day services at University of Toronto Soldiers' Tower

Remembrance Day services at University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower

Monday, November 11, 2013, Remembrance Day services. Local services will be held at the University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower at the western end of Hart House, 10:20 to 11AM, followed by a reception at the Great Hall, 7 Hart House Circle.  


Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 7:00PM at St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King Street East, Evergreen’s Executive Director Geoff Cape will be moderating a free Natural History Symposium to discuss Toronto’ natural heritage including “trees as natural heritage resources, what the average citizens can do to conserve natural heritage in the context of our natural ecosystems, the City of Toronto’s Natural Heritage Study and the management of natural heritage resources related to water.” 


November 12 to 14, 9:30AM each day, the Supreme Court of Canada considers questions about Senate reform. The hearings will be broadcast on CPAC including the CPAC Internet live stream.

The Supreme Court of Canada's hearing on Senate Reform start November 12, 2013 at 9:30AM

The Supreme Court of Canada’s hearings on Senate reform start November 12, 2013 at 9:30AM


Related posts:

Last week in the neighbourhood: Rob Ford’s very, very bad day, Honest Ed’s sale, Trinity-St. Paul’s reno, and more




All images by Louise Morin for West Annex News unless otherwise noted.

Nuit Blanche 2013, Bathurst and Bloor charette, Eden Smith’s own house, the Bathurst bendy bus, and more this week in the neighbourhood | October 4, 2013

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Eating & Drinking, Heritage & History, The West Annex, This week in the neighbourhood on October 4, 2013 at 12:05 AM
The Four Corners of Bathurst and Bloor charette will be hosted by Councillors Layton and Vaughan on October 5th

The Four Corners of Bathurst and Bloor community charette, hosted by Councillors Layton and Vaughan, October 5, 2013, 1 to 4PM at Central Technical School. | Image credit bottom left photo: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, item 1043, April 3, 1911; all others West Annex News.

By West Annex News | Here’s what’s happening this week in and around the neighbourhood.

The Four Corner of Bathurst and Bloor Community Charette, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 1PM, Central Technical School, 725 Bathurst Street. From the public notice:Now that the future of Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village are up for debate, it is even more important to set out a vision for the four corners of Bathurst and Bloor. There are many sites at this corner that may become development sites in the next decade and we need to be prepared as a community to define how we want our neighbourhoods to grow.”

Prepare for the charette by reading Putting the CON in Consultation“. This indispensable guide tells you the tricks and techniques developers and city planners use when they want to mute your voice in working groups, visioning studies and other so-called community consultations. [Dooney’s Cafe]

Nuit Blanche Toronto 2011

Nuit Blanche Toronto starts Saturday, October 5 at 6:51PM

Nuit Blanche 2013, from sunset (6:51PM) Saturday, October 5 to sunrise the next morning. It’s the big one: Nuit Blanche 2013, Toronto’s annual free, city-wide sunset-to-sunrise celebration of contemporary art. All the major city blogs–[blogTO] [Now] [The Grid] [Torontoist]–have good guides to the most highly touted events. But here are some local events that deserve some love:

  • Convergence North at Spadina House, 285 Spadina Road. An array of interactive light sculpture installations along a path created through the five-acre grounds of the Spadina Museum.
  • Nothing is Better at the Church of the Redeemer, 162 Bloor Street West. Synchronized multi-screen video, music, sound, live performance. A thought-provoking and amusing science musical documentary and allegorical journey from the city’s outskirts to its heart of darkness.
  • Art meets Chess at Wychwood Barns, Chess pieces created by artist Blandford Gates out of recycled metal will be re used to recreate the Game of the Century, game 5 in the match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972.  See video below to learn more.

The Pottery and Glass Show at Artscape Wychwood BarnsSaturday and Sunday, October 5 & 6, 2013, 8AM to 5PM: This juried show and sale showcases the best of Ontario’s glass and clay artists. Admission is free.

Eden Smith's home at 267 Indian Road | Image credit Google Street View

Eden Smith’s home at 267 Indian Road | Image credit Google Street View

For the architourist, Eden Smith’s own house is for sale for $1,169,000. The Century 21 listing says the c. 1896 home at 267 Indian Road home was the prototype for Smith’s Art & Crafts/English Cottage style. [Built Heritage News].

Harbord Village is being lauded for its laneway-naming project which has reminded the community of its history. [YongeStreet]

The TTC’s new Bombardier bendy bus was in Bathurst station today for a test run from the TTC’s Hillcrest complex. While the buses are generally receiving favourable reviews, the routes they serve will see a cut in the frequency of bus service to offset the new bus’ increased rider capacity. [Torontoist]

Kops Records’ Annex location opened last weekend at 592 Bloor West  (formerly Markus Fashion). This continues a trend: interesting new shops are bypassing the West Annex stretch of Bloor east of Bathurst in favour of Koreatown. [BlogTO]

"Before the last supper . . . they at brunch" says Big Crow's Anthony Rose | Image credit Rose and Sons Big Crow

“Before the last supper . . . they ate brunch” says Big Crow’s Anthony Rose | Image credit Rose and Sons Big Crow

Anthony Rose’s Big Crow (in the back of 176 Dupont Street, the former People’s Foods) is opening for brunch on weekends starting October 5th. Brunch hours are 11AM to 3PM, Saturday and Sunday. The brunch menu is here.

Theh west field of Sibelius Square is closed yet again for soil decompacting and re-sodding.

The west field of Sibelius Square is closed yet again for soil de-compacting and re-sodding.

The playing field at Sibelius Square is out of commission. Again. The $1 million plus park renovation in 2012 made the field’s drainage problem worse, not better. Councillor Vaughan’s constituency assistant Areej Hasso reports that city staff is blaming soil compaction, not a design flaw. Staff says they de-compacted the soil before laying new sod on October 3rd. No word on when play can resume on the field.

And oh yeah, there was that rat article. They’re on the rise in the Annex. Your green lifestyle may be partly to blame. []


Related posts:

Last week in the neighbourhood

Nuit Blanche 2012: West Annex News presents Fortifications for Small Worlds

Jean Sibelius Square Park official re-opening

The wrap for June 9, 2012 | Goodbye People’s Foods, hello Famoso Pizzeria and Barton Snacks . . .

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Eating & Drinking, The West Annex, This week in the neighbourhood on June 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

The charming Barton Snacks at the south east corner of Bathurst and Barton, one block north of Bloor. Finally, somewhere to get indie coffee after 6PM in the Annex.

By West Annex News | Here’s what’s  been happening lately in and around the neighbourhood and on the Web:

New additions to the deadpool: After 50 years, Annex diner People’s Food is folding due to a rent increase [blogTO], while Kromer Radio is closing after 55 years in business. While Kromer told The Grid they’re closing just because they’re tired, an application for a height and usage variance by the new land-owners RioCan suggests that development pressures were the real culprit. Openfile reports that RioCan’s application was turned down by the Committee of Adjustments, but the developer is expected to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Green sprouts: The tiny but charming Barton Snacks  is cheering up the south-east corner of Bathurst and Barton with espresso-based coffee drinks and premium products like ice cream from Maypole Dairy and healthy(-ish) potato chips prepared with avocado oil and reduced sodium. Manager Chris Sherwood tells us that he’ll also be serving hotdogs. The Snack is open 8AM to 10PM Monday to Friday, and 11AM to 10PM Saturday and Sunday. Finally, a place to get indie coffee after 6PM in the Annex.

And genuine Neapolitan pizza is coming to the Bloor-West Annex strip, albeit in the form of an Edmonton-based chain Famoso Pizzeria. The owners expect to have the 386 Bloor Street location open by June 21, 2012. The previous tenant was the James Joyce Irish Pub.

Busy weekend: We hope the rain holds off for the Portugal Day Parade and Picnic today. The parade starts at 11AM on Landsdowne at Bloor and then heads down to Dundas Street West for the live music and picnic in Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

If it rains, the wonderful Ring Around the City reminds us that the Raw/Vegan Festival is going on all weekend indoors at 918 Bathurst Street, just north of Barton.

918 Bathurst Street, where the Raw/Vegan Food Festival is being held this weekend

The inaugural Junction Flea market is this Sunday June 10, starting at 9AM, on Dundas Street West, one block east of Keele. If this preview of  The Vintage Cabin’s wares is in any way typical of the quality and prices of the offerings, this is a not-to-be missed event.

Then from 11AM to 6PM Sunday it’s the Annex Festival on Bloor. We’re sad this festival seems less Annex, more the same old travelling road show of vendors that you see over and over again at every Toronto street festivals. But we love the chance to walk on a car-free Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst once a year and enjoy the live music.

Then at 3:30PM Sunday, don’t forget to head over to the Jean Sibelius Square Park official re-opening.

The renewed Jean Sibelius Square Park, 50 Kendal Avenue in the Annex.

Good reads: YongeStreet proposes how Toronto can further densify without more condos in Right up your alley: Can laneway housing provide an antidote to our high-rise growth spurt

Toronto Life has a story about that 83 story condo, the tallest in Canada, that could be coming to the Holt Renfrew Centre on Bloor. Closer to home, the massive condo development including a 40-storey glass condominium planned by the United Church for the Bloor Street United Church at Huron and Bloor has local residents and Councillor Vaughan concerned [The Varsity].

The Dupont Street cycle lanes are probably safe for now despite the plotting of  Ward 17 Councilor and Rob Ford ally Cesar Palacio to get rid of them [openfile].

Ring Around the City is passing on a warning from 14 Division about a hot water scam in the neighbourhood. Two men already face charges.

And the always interesting Atlantic Cities’ website has two recent  articles we enjoyed: Why We Pay More for Walkable Neighbourhoods  and The Evolution of Bike Lanes (cycle tracks anyone?)

Neapolitan pizza in the Annex via Edmonton: Famoso Pizzeria’s big pizza oven has already arrived, readying for the opening at 386 Bloor Street West June 21, 2012

Communication Art Gallery | 209 Harbord Street

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events on March 30, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Communication Art Gallery | 209 Harbord Street just east of Bathurst

By West Annex News | Before the spectacular success of Prisoners, National Post photographer Brett Gundlock‘s compelling show combining portraits and stories of G-20 detainees, it was easy to overlook the Communication Art Gallery at 209 Harbord Street.

Prisoners at Communication Art Gallery: Emily Berriger, age 23 | by Brett Gundlock

We take pride in exploring the less-travelled corners of the neighbourhood, but the last block of Harbord Street before Bathurst, opposite the Central Technical school playing fields, has attracted only B-list chains, convenience stores and local amenities for years. After the departure of La Carrera Cycles to larger digs closer to Spadina, there seemed to be no reason to walk west of Lippincott Street on Harbord.

209 Harbord's previous incarnation, Maya Cleaning | Google Street View screen capture

But not in the imaginative mind of James Binnie, owner of Paint It Green, an environmental house painting company. Binnie, 36, grew up on nearby Albany Avenue and says he’s spent half his life between Harbord and Dupont, Bathurst and Spadina. Driving on Harbord with a friend in 2009, they spotted an empty storefront at 211 Harbord, and mused that it would make a good art gallery.

Then on his way to BC to work, Binnie says the idea preyed on his mind while he was away. But when he returned to Toronto, the space was rented. Eventually, Krispy Kreme took it over. Binnie felt his dream was not to be.

But then he heard that the owner of Maya Cleaning, right next door at 209 Harbord Street, had passed away and her space had become available to rent. Binnie snapped it up, and renovated it himself. He raised the ceiling, and installed hardwood floors and track lighting.

The opening show in September of 2010, Garth Scheuer New Constructions | photo credit James Binnie

He opened the gallery in September of 2010 with Garth Scheuer’s New Constructions, with the intention of bringing in a new show every month.  Brett Gundlock’s Prisoners is the gallery’s sixth show. After it completes its run tomorrow, March 31st, Leah Rainey’s Edits, featuring her abstract paintings, moves in. The opening will be on April 7, 2011 at 5:00PM.

Uros Jelic Oil at Communication Art Gallery in January of 2011 | Photo by James Binnie

Binnie hopes that like Gundlock, other artist will come and pitch ideas to him.  He hopes to see shows of installations, sculpture, and mixed media  join the photography and paintings he has displayed.  Communication is the underlying theme of all the shows; Binnie sees his gallery as a place for artists to have their message transmitted, witnessed, and appreciated.

Outside the Communication Art Gallery on Harbord Street | The shallow gallery space helps it become part of the street

The gallery itself is a relatively shallow space, which greatly enhances its impact. The gallery becomes part of the street with the works clearly visible to bypassers.

Communication Art Gallery is a welcome and lively addition to the street life of Harbord Street between Lippincott and Bathurst Street.


In Arrivals & Departures we document the changes in the commercial/retails strips of the West Annex.

See the Arrivals & Departures archive for other articles like this one.

about Design Corp. at 1042 Bathurst Street

In Arrivals & Departures on March 27, 2011 at 12:05 AM

about Design Corp., where interesting things began to happen in late 2010

By West Annex News | Last month while reviewing the John Cadiz show at Ideasincorporated gallery, we commented upon the exciting mix of galleries, indie coffee houses, shops and restaurants suddenly appearing on Bathurst Street south of Dupont.

Since then we have watched while several more building on this rapidly gentrifying strip have been transformed. None has been more intriguing than 1042 Bathurst Street. Following the departure a few years ago of Apollo Volvo Specialist mechanics in the rear and Das Autopro, a European auto accessories shop in the retail space in the front, this double-wide space had been occupied by a number of short-lived tenants. By mid-2010 the space was empty, and stayed that way for some time.

Then in the late in 2010, interesting things began to happen. First the space was stripped down to white walls and hardwood flooring. Some time later a black curtain appeared across the entire width of the back of the store, and then stark fluorescent tubes were installed on the floor and a wall.  Finally a clothing rack arrived in one window, from which hung beautifully tailored white shirts. But were they shirts? On closer inspection, the shirt tails were sewn together at the bottom, and straps wrapped around them. Were these stylized strait jackets? Was this a gallery? An art installation? A performance space?

Then cryptic information appeared in small letters  in the bottom left corner of the front window.  A name, an email address, and a website, for about Design Corp. We visited the website, which featured moody, enigmatic videos which only deepened the mystery.

To add to the intrigue, the front door were always locked, no matter the time of day we went by. That is, until last Saturday, when we tried the door, and it opened. Inside we met the charming Dean Hutchinson and Yunchieh Chang, the fashion designers and principals behind about Design Corp, who ushered us into their spare, elegant, and now-opened shop.

Yunchieh Chang and Dean Hutchinson of about design corp.

Hutchinson is returning to Toronto after many years in the San Francisco fashion scene. A Canadian, he headed to California immediately upon his graduation from the University of Saskatoon Fine Arts program to learn the fashion business. He quickly built a following for the strong, beautiful architecture of his designs.

In the late 1990’s he established Dean Hutchinson (Design) Inc. where fashion designed and manufactured in Toronto was sold at his San Francisco retail stores.

In California, Hutchinson met Cheng, an American born in Singapore and a winner of a prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America fashion design scholarship.

Beautifully draped, asymmetrically designed jackets come in fabric or leather

About Design Corp. is the product of their collaboration. Their Bathurst Street atelier contains immaculately constructed classic wardrobe pieces in black, white and gray, together with asymmetrically designed jackets in fabric and leather. The leather is luxurious and buttery soft; it drapes like fabric.  On some pieces exposed zippers add an edge to the feminine designs.

Chang and Hutchinson decided that there would be no labels in the clothing. “We want you to create what you think it is” said Hutchinson, explaining their design philosophy. “We want to be both respectful of the heritage of clothing making, and create a design-centric, artisan collection.”

“New idea need old buildings” Jane Jacobs said. And about Design Corp. and Bathurst Street exemplify this maxim.  The still relatively low rents on the street allow Hutchinson and Chang to locate their design studio, manufacturing facility, and showroom all at in the same building.

Exquisitely constructed, label-free classic wardrobe pieces

Chang and Hutchinson were kind enough to part the black drapes that so dramatically frame their showroom, and give us a behind-the-scenes tour.

Hutchinson and Chang in their design studio at 1042 Bathurst Street

The design and manufacturing area is down the stairs from the showroom. It’s an exciting space bursting with creativity, with paper patterns lining the walls and works in progress partially assembled on dressmaker dummies and spread out on large tables.

About is the latest of a number of new shops, galleries and cafes which have been garnering rave reviews from the media, like Madeleines, Cherry Pie and Ice CreamRapidoBurnettJava Mama, ideasincorporatedBarbara Edwards ContemporaryEwanika, and Scoop and Bean, and which have joined with neighbourhood stalwarts like Annapurna VegetarianLa Parette Gallery and the unspoiled vintage diners Apollo 11 and Vesta Lunch to form a vibrant new neighbourhood. For lack of a better name, we called the neighbourhood the upper West Annex in our last article. Since then we’ve heard that local merchants–who are banding together and hope to form a business improvement area–are branding the area “Bathurst-Dupont Village”.

We’re glad to see such efforts towards a BIA. The stretches of interesting new shops on Bathurst are still broken up by tough, gritty sections that discourage pedestrian traffic. Merchants and their landlords have to work together to try to steward the gentle gentrification of the street, to entice shoppers to travel up the street from Bloor.

But care must be taken that the area does not undergo explosive growth like Ossington Avenue experienced, where the pioneers of the gentrification are quickly priced out of the mix by rapidly rising commercial rents.

For all gentrification that has taken place, Bathurst Street between Bloor and Dupont still sports some tough, gritty sections

About are welcome new members of the vanguard who are transforming Bathurst street for the better. We’d like to see them stick around.

Postscript: Before ending our interview with Hutchinson and Chang, we asked about the stylized strait jackets that had so intrigued us for months.  Hutchinson laughed. Neither strait jackets nor art installation: those perplexing white garments are about’s custom-made garment bags.



Read Karen van Hahn’s Bathurst and Dupont is the newest style mecca in, and Bert Archer’s Bathurst Street’s gorgeous bones in YongeStreet.

In Arrivals & Departures we document the changes in the commercial/retails strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets.

See the Arrivals & Departures archive for other articles like this one.

Introducing Guu SakaBar, Guu Izakaya’s new West Annex location

In Arrivals & Departures, Eating & Drinking on February 20, 2011 at 11:16 PM

The unfinished but already jewel box-like tatami room at the front of Guu SakaBar | 559 Bloor Street West.

20 March 2011, 5:20PM update from our Twitter feed: Walked by @GuuSakabar 15 minutes ago and they are indeed finally open, and for probably the only time in their history, there isn’t a line-up–yet.


By West Annex NewsChowhound first voiced the rumours in July of 2010. By the fall several media outlets confirmed them: Guu Izakaya, the insanely successful Japanese-style pub at 398 Church Street in Toronto is opening a second location at 559 Bloor Street West, in what is now the most eagerly anticipated debut on the Bloor-West Annex strip.

The space, just east of Bathurst, was previously occupied by Burger King, and before that, CFNY Radio’s street-front studio.

559 Bloor Street West's previous incarnation was a Burger King | Screen capture from Google street view

Construction has been ongoing on for many months now, during which time various sites have speculated on the date the Annex Guu will open its doors.

We contacted Hyunsoo Kim, the general manager at Guu Izakaya, who generously invited us in to see the state of the renovations on February 17, 2011.

Although still very much a construction site, the restaurant interior is taking shape.

The sushi bar to the left and the tatami room up front.

Entering the restaurant from the back kitchen entrance, we were immediately attracted to the beautiful tatami room up front, which although only partially finished, already glows like an exquisite jewel box. The many small square port hole-style windows, familiar from the Church Street location, allow twinkling light into the raw quartz-tiled room, and offer glimpses out to Bloor Street. The hardwood floors and textured wooden ceiling tiles give the room a warm glow.

The entranceway off Bloor is a long hall that runs adjacent to the east wall of the tatami room. It has been thoughtfully laid out to provide a large area where patrons can wait in line, sheltered from the outdoors, but separated by a wall from those already seated in the restaurant. Given Guu’s no-reservation policy, admittedly designed to try to keep out demographic undersirables like aging boomers, one suspects that the line-up will continue right out the door and down the laneway that lies to the immediate east of Guu’s building.

The sushi bar, located mid-restaurant on the west wall. The open kitchen is to the left

Right behind the tatami room on the west wall is the sushi bar, finished in rough grey barn-board.

Taking delivery of appliances in Guu SakaBar's gleaming all-stainless open kitchen

Behind the bar in the south-west corner of the building is an open kitchen, already gleaming with its stainless steel walls, and appliances that were just being delivered during out visit.

The main dining room is directly opposite the open kitchen, occupying the south-east corner of the building. It’s now barely roughed-in, and is packed with construction materials and machinery.

We drew this rough, not-to-scale floor plan based on our visit to Guu SakaBar on February 17, 2011

We prepared the sketch, left, of the basic layout of Guu SakaBar after our visit.

Although extremely busy supervising construction and taking delivery of appliances and materials, both General Manager Hyunsoo Kim and manager of the Annex location Natsuhiko Sugimoto were generous with their time answering our questions during the visit. They said the opening is now expected in mid early March 2011. Asked about the menu, Kim said some of the dishes from Church Street will be available in the Annex location, but that they planned “many surprises”, details of which Kim told us, with a smile, that he is saving for the opening.

It was only after we left the premise and inspected the business card that Sugimoto gave us that we noticed that the Annex location is not described as an izakaya restaurant–which in Japan means a cheap and cheerful after-work pub for drinking and snacking while waiting out the worst of rush-hour traffic–but a saka bar. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, in Tokyo at least, saka bars are often a step up in sophistication; more cocktails-and-tapas than pub.

The first Toronto location of this popular Vancouver franchise has polarized Toronto diners. The Church Street spot ranks number 3 on Joanne Kates’ current top ten restaurants in Toronto and number 2 on NOW’s most overrated restaurants.  But a careful review of the comments section of most on-line reviews generally shows raves for the imaginative and well-executed food, but loathing for line-ups for seats of up to two hours.

Maguro tataki: lighly seared BC albacore tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce and garlic chips ($6.80) from Guu Izakaya's Church Street location | photo credit Sifu Renka

This second location should alleviate the line ups somewhat. And line-ups are nothing for habitués of the Bloor-West Annex strip, long-practiced in the art of the line thanks to venues like Lee’s Palace, the Brunswick House, New Generation Sushi and Sushi on Bloor. Guu SakaBar should be a perfect fit for a neighbourhood already obsessed with Japanese food and willing to put in some time to get it.


See Sifu Renka’s photoset of the food and decor of Guu Izakaya’s Church Street location on Flickr.

In Arrivals & Departures we document the changes in the commercial/retails strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets, and think about these changes in the context of Jane Jacobs’ observation that popularity on retail strips can lead to commercial monocultures, and of Max Fawcett’s thesis that the Annex is un-gentrifying.

See the Arrivals & Departures archive for other articles like this one.

Fanny Chadwick’s is now open at 268 Howland Avenue

In Arrivals & Departures, Eating & Drinking on February 18, 2011 at 2:35 PM

By West Annex News | Finally! The wait is over. Fanny Chadwick’s at Howland and Dupont opened its doors the evening of Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

We were given a look inside on Thursday, February 17th, just after the restaurant’s soft opening the night before. The transformation from the space’s last incarnation–AAA Chinese–is remarkable. There are large windows on the north, east and west sides of the restaurant, which allow natural light to flood into the space.  Inside is spacious, comfortable, and contemporary. The medium-brown wooden floors gleam. Comfy booths upholstered with bright, modern, geometric fabric line the walls, and vintage bar stools, upholstered in red leather–restored originals dating back from the days the space was Angelo’s Diner– provide seating around the L-shaped bar.

“The scene tonight @Fanny Chadwick’s” by @foodie411/Joel Solish

Sadly, we can’t show you the photographs we took during of our look inside the restaurant; part-owner Sarah Baxter wanted prior approval before we posted them, approval which she ultimately would not give. So we can only show you this mobile phone photo that @foodie411 (aka Joel Solish) apparently snapped off on opening night and shared on twitpic.

Baxter wouldn’t show us her menu either (although we found it later, also posted by Solish) as she said it was still evolving based on the feedback received during this week’s soft opening. She did share that the menu’s focus will be on seasonal comfort food, sourced locally where possible.  The meat will be from Rowe Farms, the beers from Ontario and Quebec, and the wine international.

An enthusiastic review of the food served the night of the soft opening night can be found on Solish’s Community Foodist website, together with more photographs of various dishes served that night.

111 Howland, where the original Fanny Chadwick lived from 1884 to 1898

As we understand it, Fanny’s will be open for dinner this week, brunch on the weekend, and then open full hours sometime next week. The Fanny Chadwick’s website is still under construction but gives this phone number–416.944.1606–and an email address for information: Regular updates are appearing on Fanny’s Twitter account, @FannyChadwicks.

The restaurant is named after Fanny Chadwick, an illustrious former resident of 111 Howland Avenue. According to Jack Batten in The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood, Fanny was born on January 10, 1873, and moved to 111 Howland Avenue at age 11 when her father, a successful senior partner with a prestigious 19th century Toronto law firm, built the enormous home opposite the See House beside St. Alban’s the Martyr Cathedral.The Chadwicks were Anglicans and committed supporters of the then partially constructed Cathedral.

Memorial window in St. Alban the Martyr Cathedral, 100 Howland Avenue

A gifted writer and actress, Fanny prolifically wrote, produced, and starred in plays which she presented in the living room of the spacious family home, to rave reviews from audiences that included members of Toronto’s working press. Fanny’s output dropped off after her marriage in 1898 and the birth of her son in 1900.  She died in 1905 at the age of 32.  A stained-glass window in the Cathedral of St. Alban the Martyr at 100 Howland Avenue–across the street from the Chadwick home–commemorates her, donated by her heart-broken father.

Detail of memorial window dedicated to Fanny by her father

Fanny Chadwick’s restaurant is yet another sign that the upper West Annex is transforming itself, and far outpacing the Bloor Street strip to the south for the number of interesting shops, cafes, galleries and restaurant that are opening.


Also see:

Bert Archer, Venerable Dupont diner gets $250,000 overhaul, transforms into Fanny Chadwick’s”, YongeStreet.

Jack Batten,The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood, 2004, Erin, Boston Mills Press.


10 March 2011 update (from our Twitter feed):

West Annex News
WestAnnexNews As we have a chef & restaurant owner in our family, we know it’s not fair to review restaurants until they’ve had a few months to sort out.  So we had no intention of mentioning our meal @FannyChadwicks tonight before the Tarragon Theatre. But it was superb – food & service. The seared rainbow trout @FannyChadwicks is incredibly moist & flavourful & the portion size was generous (for the fish and the slice of apple pie).

*20 February 2011: edited this post to add Fanny Chadwick’s phone number, now posted on their website along with the restaurant hours.

*19 February 2011: this post was edited to add the photograph by @foodie411/Joel Solish.  Visit his Community Foodist website.

Arrivals & Departures | Rowe Farms at 468 Bloor Street West: meat for the elite

In Arrivals & Departures, Eating & Drinking on January 28, 2011 at 11:59 PM

Rowe Farms retail store opened at 468 Bloor Street West on January 28, 2011

By West Annex News | After waiting almost a month for their hydro hookup, the Rowe Farms retail store at 468 Bloor Street West finally opened its doors in the West Annex today. Rowe Farms takes over the space vacated by Organics on Bloor in the first half of 2010.

Many in the neighbourhood will be familiar with Rowe Farms meat products from Fiesta Farms and from the Rowe Farms outlet in the north building of St. Lawerence Market. Many do not know however that founder John Rowe sold his operation a few years back. The new ownership is expanding the brand with a string of retail outlets in various family-friendly, upper middle-class neighbourhoods in Toronto, including the Beach, Roncesvalles, Leslieville, and Bloor West Village.

The frozen and refrigerated packaged meat cases, with butcher counter at the rear

While waiting for the opening of the store on the West Annex Bloor strip, we visited the Roncesvalles store, which has a similar floor plan to that of the West Annex shop. It’s an attractive, well-organized space, offering the full selection of Rowe Farms meat, poultry, and prepared meat products like sausages and meat balls.

The outside sign is green, the walls inside are green, and even the shades on the light fixtures are green. Yes, the theme is local and sustainable with an emphasis on animal welfare. Rowe Farms’ slogan is “Quality with a Conscience” and the website recites a farming philosophy of “locally-grown, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, conscientiously-farmed, nitrite-cured (100% nitrate-free)”. Note: while the meat may be all that, the butcher at the Roncesvalles shop acknowledged to us that Rowe Farms products are not organic.

The store also offers a selection of products from other local producers including Organic Meadow dairy products, Anton Kozlick’s Mustards, and eggs, salad greens, and other prepared foods.

The store offers a wide range of Organic Meadow dairy products, like Organics on Bloor before it

In addition to offering frozen and refrigerated packaged meat products in the large coolers that line the sides of the shop, there’s a butcher’s counter at the back, staffed by a real live butcher.

The butcher counter

The West Annex Bloor strip has been without a butcher shop since a rent increase caused the owner of Elizabeth Deli and Meat Market to lock the doors and walked away from her thriving store at 410 Bloor Street West in December of 2005. Some will welcome Rowe Farms as the return of a basic neighbourhood amenity to Bloor Street.

But is Rowe Farms a basic amenity?

Elizabeth’s was a full service butcher and European-style delicatessen. It contained its own smokehouse on the second floor where staff prepared sausages, hams and other meats. Elizabeth’s offered a wide variety of products at an equally wide range of prices.  It attracted a socio-economically diverse clientele.

Rowe Farms’ retail model is decidedly different. During the week starting December 31, 2010, we compared the price of selected Rowe Farms products at Fiesta Farms against the equivalent product in other local supermarkets. We found that the Rowe Farms’ prices per kilogram were consistently the most expensive, often double or more the lowest price amongst the competition.  Some examples:

  • Pork loin centre chop boneless:  Rowe Farms $26.99; Loblaws “Free From” $15.41; Metro “Traditionally Raised” $12.76; Metro regular $12.99; Price Chopper $12.10;  No Frills: $11.40; Fiesta Farms $11.00;
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs:  Rowe Farms: $19.82; Loblaws “Free From” and Price Chopper $15.41; Metro (Prime) $14.64; No Frills $13.44; Fiesta Farms (Prime) $12.99
  • Extra lean ground beef:  Rowe Farms: $16.99; Fiesta Farms (ground Angus) $15.41; Loblaws President’s Choice Blue Menu (Angus Sirloin) $13.21; No Frills $9.44; Metro: $8.80; Price Chopper $8.45.

Rowe Farms boneless skinless chicken thighs $19.82 per kg

There are legitimate reasons why “traditionally raised” meats cost more. As Rachel Hahn pointed out in her article Like Sex in the City, but with meat: Toronto’s Gourmet Butcher Scene, “farmers who don’t use a factory farm model . . . spend more money per animal. If animals are free-range, there’s more space to pay for and if they’re free of hormones and antibiotics, they take longer to become ready for slaughter.”

Torontonians are in the grip of a so-called ethical and healthy meat craze. Nose to tail eating and charcuterie plates reign in Toronto’s trendiest restaurants, and indie butchers are eclipsing indie coffee shops as the hottest trend in retail.

Centre cut boneless pork chop $26.99 per kg

Hahn quotes Toronto celebrity butcher Peter Sanagan of Kensington Market’s Sanagan’s Meat Locker in explaining the trend: “In Ontario we are not as lucky as, say, California or Vancouver where they have a more temperate growing zone where vegetables have a longer season. But meat is something we can do well, and it’s all year round.” But Sanagan is honest enough to acknowledge that the movement towards local produce is a “privilege trend” because of the cost.

The proliferation of high-end butcher shops–variously described as green, healthy, ethical, organic, local, and conscientious–is more evidence that Toronto is becoming a city of stark socio-economic extremes, the work of The Stop and Food Share in promoting local and healthy foods for low-income Torontonians notwithstanding.

Organics on Bloor shuttered its doors in early 2010

And are these meats really all that green and ethical?

After energy production, livestock is the second highest contributor to atmosphere-altering gases.  Nearly one fifth of all greenhouse gas is generated by livestock production, more than all modes of transportation combined.

And four hundred scientists in 34 countries recently compiled a report for the British Government about the overstressed global food system, and the need for it to expand to feed a projected 9.5 billion people in 2050. Professor Charles Godfray, one of the report’s lead authors told Jessica Leeder of the Globe and Mail that “consumer demand for unsustainable goods will have to be harnessed. This includes meats, the production of which creates a huge drag on the environment.  It would just be impossible for the global population to consume meat at the rate we do in North America and Europe.”

In “Attention Whole Food Shoppers” in Foreign Policy Magazine, Robert Paarlberg observes how local, organic and slow food has become an elite preoccupation in the West. “The hope that we can help others by changing our shopping and eating habits is being wildly oversold to Western consumers. If we are going to get serious about solving global hunger, we need to de-romanticize our view of preindustrial food and farming. Factory farming is essential to feed the hunger-plagued rest of the world.”


For more on the myth of green and ethical meat, see Mark Bittman’s What’s wrong with what we eat:


Note: interior photographs are of the Roncesvalles store.

In Arrivals & Departures, we watch the changes in the commercial/retail strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets, and think about these changes in the context of Jane Jacobs’ analysis that popularity on retail strips can lead to commercial monocultures and store vacancies and Max Fawcett’s thesis that the Annex is un-gentrifying.

For related articles, visit the Arrivals & Departures archive.

Arrivals & Departures: Lettieri Espresso Bar and Hero Certified Burgers at 581 Bloor Street West

In Arrivals & Departures, Eating & Drinking on January 9, 2011 at 2:23 AM

Lettieri Espresso Bar closed its doors for good on December 30, 2010

Another one bites the dust . . .

By West Annex News | Coffee Corner, Java Junction, or Corporate Coffee Headquarter; whatever you call the aggregation of coffee shops around Bloor Street West and Albany Avenue, the group suffered its first fatality at the end of 2010 when Lettieri Expresso Bar on the south-west corner of Bathurst and Bloor quietly closed its doors on December 30.  A note posted on the front door reads: “After eight years of making fresh espresso, Lettieri Espresso Bar will be closed on December 30, 2010.  We have loved being a part of this community.  It has been an absolute joy serving you. Wish you all have a very happy new year.”

Good-bye note from Lettieri franchise owner Joe Lee | click to enlarge

Signs already hang in the windows announcing that a Hero Certified Burgers will be moving in to the 581 Bloor Street West space.  The Lettieri website says cryptically that Lettieri is “co-branding with Hero Certified Burgers”.  Lettieri directs readers to the Hero website for further information, but we found no mention there of Lettieri or of co-branding. John Lettieri is the founder of both the Lettieri Espresso Bar and Hero Certified Burgers franchises.

Honest Ed's signage overwhelmed that of Lettieri

It’s hard to say what lead to the demise of Lettieri. Once inside the shop, it was an attractive, soothing, light-filled space with large east-facing windows looking out on Bathurst Street.  And Lettieri made arguably the best-tasting espresso-based drinks of all the chains located on the West Annex Bloor strip. But tucked in the north-east corner of Honest Ed’s, the garish extravagance of  Ed’s signage overwhelmed that of Lettieri’s; it was easy to forget the coffee shop was even there.

And Bathurst Street still forms a considerable psychological barrier for Annex shoppers. Although the number of non-Korean-themed shops establishing themselves west of Bathurst on the Bloor West strip is increasing, many shoppers still hold on to the notion that Bloor west of Bathurst is a Korean ethnic enclave with little to offer shoppers who do not share that ethnicity.   As we noted in a previous post, the stiff competition with four major coffee chain outlets killed a local tea shop in 2010. With that competition located on the more desirable West Annex side of Bathurst, the few extra steps to cross the street into Koreatown apparently proved a few steps too far for Lettieri’s survival.

Lettieri Espresso Bar was located at the south west corner of Bathurst and Bloor, in Honest Ed’s


In Arrivals & Departures, we watch the changes in the commercial/retail strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets, and think about these changes in the context of Jane Jacobs’ analysis that popularity on retail strips can lead to commercial monocultures and store vacancies and Max Fawcett’s thesis that the Annex is un-gentrifying.

Visit the Arrivals & Departures archive.