The Depanneur

1033 College St,
Toronto, ON M6H 1A8


About the Restaurant

When Len Senater got out of the graphic design business to get into food, he knew that he wanted to eschew the traditional restaurant model. Most restaurants are too impersonal, he says, plus, the financial risks are too high to get truly creative. After taking over a run-down convenience store at College and Dovercourt and spending months on the renovation (“it was more like an exorcism,” he says), Senater opened up his hybrid creation, The Depanneur, in late August.

The concept: By day, The Depanneur acts as a particularly green-focused grocery store and café. Cooking essentials like organic produce and dairy line the shelves, while coffee (from I Deal $2-$4), breakfast sandwiches ($3-$4) and organic ice cream (from Organic Meadow, $1-$3.50) sate the to-go crowd. Particularly observant patrons may notice that nearly all the furniture is on wheels: the interior makeup of the place is mutable to make room for The Deppaneur’s alter-ego, the Rusholme Park Supper Club. Currently in its beta-testing stage, Senater would like to see the supper club as a regularly-occurring event hosted by different chefs and food-lovers. The host will be responsible for a prix-fixe menu and will join the guests in a family-style dinner. Ideally, theme nights will occur: a literary themed dinner, perhaps, or a musical dinner where the dishes are based on songs. For Senater, the space is all about creating a unique experience.

The décor is a hodgepodge of used, reclaimed and found items: dangling by the windows are old 1000-watt agricultural bulbs that Senater found on the street and refurbished (he calls his creation a “grow-op chandelier”). The mismatched wood flooring is comprised of leftover hardwood picked up from various Craigslist ads, while the dishware was donated from residents in the area. “The Depanneur,” Senater says, “is very much by the neighbourhood, for the neighbourhood.”

The hood: College Street, near Dovercourt, on the outskirts of Little Portugal.

The goods: The Depanneur’s produce is organic in the truest sense (certified organic items can still contain organic pesticides, Senater says). Sourced from Prairie Boy Farms in Meaford, Ontario, the produce is grown with zero pesticides or additives of any kind. The garlic ($1.50), Senater says, is so packed with flavour that those used to traditional grocery store garlic may need to change their recipes. Dairy comes largely from Harmony Organic, while loaves of fresh bread from St Johns Bakery arrive regularly.


Published on: Sep 14, 2011