The Before………..

We began with this.

This post is about the transformation of this century old building into a casual, neighbourhood restaurant in downtown Toronto. These first sets of photographs were taken in the first few weeks of us acquiring the building. We had hoped to come in, clean up the garbage, buy new tables, chairs and serving pieces, put in the menu from our Bathurst location and open for business with in two to three months. After spending a few days inside the building we realized that it needed much more than just a quick clean up, what the building  needed was a fresh start. The decision was made, the plans drawn up and preparations began. To say the project took on a life of its own would be an understatement. When it’s all said and done it will be a place that serves great food with a really cool look and amazing atmosphere but to the people who have been involved every step of the way its like  giving birth to a child, and will have probably hurt just as much!  

Ok, here we go........

This was some bad 70's design, except it was 2009! This was as you walked in the front door and were looking towards the back of the restaurant.

Fake, dusty plants, a metaphor for the inspiration in this place.

The original bar, If it could tell stories I am sure they would be good. I would know, I found an envelope of pictures behind it, none of which will ever be posted here.

Not to make too much fun of the place, it's too easy but this was a very successful bistro for many years and for what ever reason just fell on hard times.

Everywhere there was filth and disorganization. It wasnt like this place was abandoned for months it was operational weeks before we acquired it.

This was a private dining area which was cleared later in the evening for a private dance stage.

Not sure what this was supposed to be other than a fire hazard.

There was some odd Moroccan, Mardi Gras, Court jester design to the whole place. These were windows cut into a stairwell.

The basement was a scary, disgusting place.

Actual basement floors as we found them.

Beer fridges, found with empty kegs. Major disappointment.

Another disappointment was spending a thousand dollars to have someone drill the safe to find absolutely nothing inside.

The downstairs kitchen, never used and containing the only equipment that didn't have to be refurbished.

The original managers office. Soon to become a wine cellar.

The original kitchen tiles. No amount of mopping was going to fix these floors.

Want to see the kitchen? It had a yellow card in the front window which indicates that they had been flagged for a health violation. Too many to count, actually.

Once again just cluttered and disorganized.

This equipment was so greasy we couldn't even wash it. Most of it was thrown out.

From the furthest point of the back of the restaurant looking towards the front.

Not as bad as you would think but it was inside the drawers, fridges and underneath that was unspeakable.

Do you want to see what two-week old food looks like? Lets just say that the smell hits you first!

Yes, actual food was stored here!

Okay enough ugliness, parties over, last call, end of the line.

Okay you get the point, the place was ugly. This was no restaurant makeover crap. Nothing here was going to be transformed in seven days, we needed seven months dammit! Once the decision was made we started demolition. The old fixtures were sold, what wasnt wanted was reduced to sawdust and the rebirth was started.  


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March 2010
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