AMA empanadas

Five restaurants that have said goodbye to Toronto in the last week

A Japanese ice cream shop and Argentinian eatery shutter their doors

As many restaurants across the city learn to navigate the new reality of modified indoor dining, announcements of permanent closures continue to roll in. Here are five restaurants that have recently bid farewell to Toronto and joined the long list of post-COVID closures:

Ama

AMA, the go-to spot on Queen West for delicious Argentinian fare, has announced that they are closing permanently as of Aug. 16. The restaurant was known for their $1 empanada nights every Wednesday, where patrons could order carne or vegetarian empanadas at a fraction of the cost, as well as their inimitable community vibe. At AMA, patrons were always welcomed in like family, tables got free perks on the (frequent) whims of friendly staff, and local produce and baked goods were sourced (often daily) by the chefs themselves.

Executive chef and partner Sebastian Galluci also wrote a short heartfelt goodbye on his Instagram, and while all dine-in options are currently sold out, you can still indulge one last time via takeout until they close.

 

 

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Taiyaki NYC

Canada’s only location of Taiyaki NYC, a Japanese ice cream shop known for their beautiful and intricate cone creations, officially closed on Aug. 6. The spot had been open since 2018, but according to their official statement, the outpost joins the long, heartbreaking list of COVID-related closures.

“It has been an incredible journey serving the community. While the retail and food industry is navigating challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it comes with deep regret and sadness to announce that our Toronto shop will be closing its doors.”

The Dundas West locale served up flavours like black sesame and matcha swirled into waffle cones shaped like a fish (the company’s name, emblem, and a Japanese symbol of prosperity and happiness). Patrons could also embellish their cones with skewers of mini mochi cakes, wafer sticks, and red bean or custard fillings in their cones.

 

 

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White Brick Kitchen

The White Brick Kitchen, opened by brothers Stephen and Mathew Howell in 2012, announced that they’ll be closing permanently on Aug 1. The Bloor West locale was known for fried chicken and waffles that always hit the spot, especially during their popular Sunday brunches.

This closure stands apart from other COVID-induced goodbyes, however, as the Instagram announcement hints that the reason might not be all bad.

“After eight years we at the white brick kitchen have decided to move on. Being off during quarantine and getting to spend so much time with our families has helped us to see what is really important in life.”

And before you get too upset about losing out on their fried chicken, you can still order it at Chica’s on Dundas West or at the Stockyards Smokehouse on St. Clair West.

 

 

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Elvy and Flo

Elvy and Flo — a beautiful and cheery café that centered around sustainability, accessibility, and plant-based goods — has permanently closed. While only open for about a year, the café quickly became a Riverdale meeting spot, especially for parents and young children who were welcomed with highchairs and a side door big enough for double strollers to roll in comfortably.

The announcement was made via social media at the end of July, and in it, owners Ann Peel and Perry Caicco explain how their successful creation of a unique type of “community hub” is precisely why their business can’t function through COVID.

We loved the flow and energy of people and conversation, music afternoons on the patio, children running around and sidling up to the bar for miniccinos. Unfortunately, the very important public health measures required to protect us all from coronavirus, have fundamentally altered the nature of a business such as ours.”

 

 

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DeKefir

DeKefir, a popular little spot on Bay Street that’s been serving up kefir (think yogurt but a little runnier) in customizable cups, smoothies and waffles, announced they’ll be permanently closing their doors after a decade in business. The announcement was made on their social media pages on the very same day that many Toronto restaurants opened for the first time since mid-March as a part of the province’s transition into Phase 3.

Owners Teresa Chang and Valerie Choy-Remark penned a heartfelt message to explain the closure, recount memories and even offer a little hope for owners and patrons alike who are watching Toronto’s culinary landscape change rapidly from day to day.

If there’s anything we’ve learned the past 10 years, it’s that collectively, we’re creative and resilient. The industry will bounce back and will thrive again one day, and while none of us can predict what that’ll look like, we have no doubt that if we all do our part now in curbing the spread of COVID-19, small businesses will thrive again in Toronto.

One bright spot, at least, is that you still have a month to get your final fix. While deKefir’s Bay Street location is already closed, the Liberty Village outpost won’t shut down until August 31.

Article exclusive to TRNTO