Get ready y’all!
We are opening very soon, but first another story…
When I was ten years old my family moved back to Toronto after living in Owen Sound for around five years. We moved into a house next to Withrow Park, just south of the Danforth, and I started going to Holy Name School, a Catholic grade school with an unfortunately un-creative name. I was confirmed at Holy Name Church with a whole slew of my new friends, most of which lived in the Danforth and Riverdale areas. We ate souvlaki on a stick from the original Mr. Greek – the luckiest kids would have enough lunch money to splurge on a whole combo plate with the starchy rice-potato duo.
I remember early versions of the Taste of the Danforth, held in Withrow where I competed in a spaghetti eating competition. I must have weighed 50 pounds wet, but I could crush a plate of spaghetti back then. I still can, but at forty-one I feel it for about a week afterwards.
As I grew older, the east end was still my Toronto. My high school girlfriend lived off Pape near the McDonald’s. My last year of high school (OACs for those of you that remember) was taken at SOLE, an alternative school near Danforth and Donlands. Upon graduating, my sister took me out for a sandwich at the Only Café, where only a couple of years later I would become a regular, along with friends from the restaurant world and elsewhere. We would drink stout and try to get the hi-score on the pinball machine. At the time, I listened to a lot of the Lowest of the Low and thought that bar was the coolest.
By the time I was 24 years old I was getting married and buying a house. It seems crazy to me that I could have done either of those things at that age, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the turn of the century. We bought a house on Kerr Road, near Greenwood and Queen, where I would be woken by the sounds of children using the back pathway to Duke of Connaught Public School. At night, after my restaurant shifts were over, I would walk around the neighbourhood, along Queen, up Coxwell, across Gerrard, down Greenwood. We would sit on our front porch and drink wine with our neighbor Ben. I fell in love with the ‘hood again.
Soon after, my big sister moved into the area, followed a couple of years later by my younger sister. I moved out a few years after that (the marriage and home ownership didn’t work out), but I never really left.
Fast forward twelve-ish years and I’m coming back. I have been fortunate enough to have built a great butcher shop in Kensington Market. I have been wanting to open a second location for a few years now, and had my eye on Gerrard to do it. My big sister was the one who alerted me about the space we’re moving into, and I’m so glad she did. I’ve met a couple of my neighbors, and I’m stoked to meet the rest. While I have traveled the world and lived all around this great city, the east end is where my Toronto began.
Look for the doors to open in early March. I’m holding off on stating a date until the contractor gives me the go ahead.
See you soon,