Miller Tavern

Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth take over North Toronto landmark

The hospitality brand will take the reins at Miller Tavern in 2020

The new year will bring more than champagne and resolutions for the Miller Tavern. The Hogg’s Hollow restaurant and its sister spot on Bay Street are being transformed by the Khabouth and Harij machine, ICONINK, in 2020. With extensive renovations and a complete menu revamp in the works, ICONINK is hoping to turn the tired Miller Taverns into places where people actually want to dine.

Open since 1857, the original Miller Tavern has had many different reputations over the years. First launched as the York Mills Hotel, this tavern was a Yonge Street stop-off point for travellers on their way through Toronto. In the 80s, what became known as the ‘Jolly Miller,’ was a cesspool for underage debauchery. In a 2004 review, after an eight year closure and $3 million renovation, restaurant critic Joanne Kates called the Miller an aspiring country club with “a bad case of the blahs”.

So why did the successful hospitality and lifestyle brand, known for high-brow spots like Patria, Estia and Byblos, want to jump onto the Millers’ sinking ship?

“Our vision was to bring more of the classic tavern idea back to the Millers.  The Yonge location especially is so iconic. It’s a part of the Toronto history, and we wanted that feeling to remain, while small details are updated to bring back its relevance and quality,” said Victoria Simmerling, Director of Marketing at ICONINK.

Aiming to revamp and refresh the spaces, ICONINK have taken over management of the Millers, changing up the way things run behind the scenes. The Millers have already seen some revitalizing as a result: The menus have been re-envisioned from the once discombobulated mix of dim sum baskets, ahi tuna crudo and lobster quesadillas, to a revised tavern-style menu comprised of elevated classics like oysters Rockefeller, burrata Waldorf salad and brick roasted cornish hen.

The new management will also bring changes to the interior of the spaces. The first big change will come in summer 2020, with the opening of the downtown Miller’s brand new patio. The Yonge St. location’s patio will also be updated this summer, along with a main level renovation. The latter will bring a new bar, cosy velvet and camel banquets and the instalment of a new fireplace.

The ICONINK’s turnover has already made headway and updates will continue throughout the coming months. After 160 years, the Miller Tavern might just be ready to recapture its early glory days.

Article exclusive to TRNTO