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McEwan goes to Don Mills


Interesting piece in the Post today about Mark McEwan's future specialty store at the the old Don Mills shopping centre, now Shops at Don Mills. His store will be called -- wait for it -- McEwan's.

Planned to open this fall, 23,000 square feet, prepared foods, etc. If successful, the first of others to follow.


  1. I have been told that the openings may be postponed until spring 2009, by another future tenant.
    Strange, as the retail part of the complex is coming along very quickly.
    Seems that the cold weather hampered the building this winter.

    1. We lost Kellen's, so let's hope that McEwan's gives us the goods. O.K., so they're probably not in the same league, but some of us are still in mourning.

      1. I know what you mean, I miss Kellen's too. There was dependable quality there that was still affordable. With McEwan's, I bet the prices will reflect the "celebrity chef" hype.

        1. Anyone know the status of this?

          14 Replies
            1. re: JamieK

              Thanks. I thought it might have been pushed even further out, but I guess they're on schedule using the timelines erly gave us last year.

                1. re: Eastwind

                  McEwan states in the article that he wants store management on the floor to behave like restaurant management. What does that mean? It's certainly not the Dean & Deluca stores (at least the ones I've been to in SOHO and Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan) that I know which are much like Pusateri.

                  1. re: syoung

                    I'm confused as to what the store will offer. Is it going to be a gourmet store that offers hard-to-find, exotic foods (such as Echire butter from France, Kobe beef from Japan, Iranian/Russian caviars, quality games and foie gras, ect.)?

                    1. re: Eastwind

                      There was an article in the weekend Globe and Mail last week that had a lot of info on the store, what would be available, what the target market is, etc. It's not available for viewing on the G&M site now, but yopu can read some of it for free from Google's cache:

                2. re: Apprentice

                  Not that I know the man personally, but I've always considered McEwan to be as much businessman as he is chef. I look forward to what a person of his talent and intellect can produce. If I were the competition, I'd be in the store from Day One with clipboard and pen.

                  1. re: Googs

                    wonder hoe the economy will affect this place.. hear it is huge...

                    1. re: OnDaGo

                      Stay the course I say. I hate to speculate, but I'd have to guess he's offering the following:

                      For the well-to-do, but price conscious set he'll be offering make at home goods that are an alternative to the dining out experience. It would round out his risks by getting you when you go out and getting you when you stay in.

                      For the brand-aspirational set that may not get out more than special occasions will allow, he'll be giving Torontonians a chance to experience high end at a lower price tag. It means weekend at home dining will become more exciting.

                      For those that may not be able to get beyond the grocery store, this will be a brand alternative to President's Choice. This will be more like King's Choice. They may not buy their staples there, but they may pop in for an item or two they can tie their apron to.

                      Judging by locale alone, I'd say he's well situated to draw in crowds from the neighbouring Bridle Path and the larger suburban consumer in need or a parking lot. Smart.

                      As to what this works out to specifically, is there anyone who has their finger on the pulse of Toronto foodies as much as he?


                      1. re: Googs

                        I do not know how much of a finger on the pulse he has.. I have heard there are a lot of Bymark staff looking for work elsewhere as they are dead most nights and same at One.. All his places are highend he has not diversified to have mid range places like O&B and others have done...

                        1. re: OnDaGo

                          I wish him well.
                          I also wished David Wood well.
                          I may be bad luck.

                          1. re: garlicandwingnut

                            That was you? Dang, I liked David Wood's stores. I think he did all right out of it, though, having sold before it crashed.

                            Did you know Mr. Wood is currently responsible for the Salt Spring Island Dairy? Nice goat cheeses.

                            1. re: Snarf

                              Yes, and I envy his current location.

                              1. re: Snarf

                                I don't think anyone, to this day, has done high end takeout as well as David Wood did it. I still miss that place. But, like so many people who achieve instant success in an area where they lack relevant experience, I think it went to his head. He also wasn't a very good businessman.

                                His original location, while in Rosedale, was modest. When he opened the second store, near Sporting Life, he apparently had gobs of investor money and spared no expense. Everything in that store was top of the line. Much of it was unnecessary. There was no way that store could ever make a profit and it killed his entire business.

                                I gather he did get out of it, but I doubt very much that he did "all right" in the process. He also had to sell his name. If he was was ever to sell food again in Toronto, it could not be as "David Wood".

                                The new owners killed the quality (and the name) and, of course, didn't last long. The "new" David Wood Food Shop wasn't worth a visit.

                                Wood was so far ahead of his time for Toronto that he had to put a warning - "contains garlic" - on some of his labels (and "does not contain garlic" on others). When something actually contained, oh my, garlic, much of the clientele considered it too low class to eat.

                                I, too, envy the life he chose after Toronto.

                                McEwan has certainly been a good businessman in the past, but times change, eh? I wish him great success, but I won't pay inflated prices for mediocre pap. It's interesting that Wegman's, a price-competitive mass market chain, in a place with few "gourmet" or "foodie" obsessives relative to Toronto, can support these stores (150,000 sq ft, most of it devoted to food) while we can't.

              1. I think McEwan's first and foremost target market is the Pusateri's, Whole Foods, Cumbrae's, Summerhill Market et al crowd. These are his main "consumption audience" that will be his bread and butter, so to speak. Those that shop at Loblaws, Sobeys, and Longo's will also be a secondary target. And then, all those seniors in the area - those "no frills" kinda shoppers, well, they'll just pop in for the free samples and to check it out. But I don't think they'll be buying much.

                Although he uses Dean & DeLuca as an example of what it will be like, the obvious advantage of their stores is that there are multiple locations and also volume. Two critical things that keep your costs down and margins up. I do hope however that he isn't looking at them for customer service because it's usually not that great...

                But, competition is fantastic - especially in the high end gourmet market.

                29 Replies
                1. re: Raquel

                  i am sure he will take a bit out of the 5 thives in rosedale. I have been sort of dissapointed with them lately.

                  1. re: Raquel

                    Bad move that may well sink him. The timing is unfortunate since ANY high-end emporia for whatever is tanking now. It's not the flush who keep this type of business afloat but the wannabes and impecunious who now simply can't afford wretched excess. It's downmarket or death, Mark.

                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      He opened North 44 in the 80's recession - it's still around.
                      Saw him discussing this point on TV recently and he said that he was in for "the long term". He suggested that a good business model will survive vagaries in the economy - but you do need sufficient capital. So he claims he's not worried - he's in for the long-term.
                      And good luck to him.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        The good news is Toronto, and Canada, are in a better position in comparsion to the rest of the world. Doesn't mean they aren't hurting. Mark is a pretty smart businessmen, in addition to being a cook. He wouldn't have a nice Ferrari if he wasn't.

                        A slightly off topic question, but is high-fat butters (such Echire Butter from France) still illegal in Canada. Ontario even outlaws the high-fat butters from France, correct?

                        Beefs such as Kobe beef, straight from Japan, are in the same position, correct?

                        1. re: Eastwind

                          I bought Echire the other day at St. Lawrence Market.

                          1. re: ms. clicquot

                            It's also available at Oliffe's

                          2. re: Eastwind

                            Kobe from Japan (ya I know its Wagu and Kobe is a place yadda yadda yadda) is ok to be brought in now but has lost a bit of its appeal as most people who have wanted to try it now have and for the price it is not something you will eat too often.. Pusateris sells it originally for $200/oz now I think it is $160 I heard...

                            I still believe the butters are not able to be brought in due to the Milk board rules...

                            PS a lot of people are loosing their ferraris & houses in this market.. so saying last year he was able to afford things does not mean this year he won't be selling them...

                            1. re: Eastwind

                              The butters are illegal - but you can find them! If you try and bring them in as a returning traveller they'll be confiscated and destroyed. But containerloads seem to have an easier task getting in! Of course, there's no health reason why they can't be imported. It's economic protection for Ontario dairy producers.
                              When I had some Italian burtter confiscated last year I was told it was because of the risk of foot& mouth disease. Italy has NEVER had a case, and Agriculture Canada's own site confirms this. Wish I had a movie of the whole fiasco. Several (at least three) officers (one agricultural, the others customs) placed the butter (250gm) in a large garbage bag, tied it off, and a special dolly (with 'FOR INCINERATION' marked on the side) was wheeled out and the bag placed in it. The dolly was then wheeled off by two people into the depths of Pearson Airport, never to be seen again. I bought the same butter, openly, in Toronto less than a week later!
                              The Japanese Beef (carefully avoiding the word Kobe, as I haven't seen this here for maybe 5 years) is legally imported. The paperwork is time consuming and costly, but the product I've found appears to be legal. However, there are MULIPLE instances of finding such descriptions as "Kobe Beef" on restaurant menus that are clearly farcical. I went to a (previously) fairly reliable wholesale butcher and asked if he had any Wagyu beef. His reply - "No but I have some Kobe - but it's $40 per lb"!
                              I recently saw Kobe sliders and Kobe meatballs on Vancouver menus. All were under $20 and clearly 'fake'.

                              1. re: estufarian

                                Yes, and imagine the surprise of people when they found out how much you paid for Kobe beef in Japan, when they can go to their local Casey's and get a Kobe beef burger for $9.99! "Kobe beef" in Toronto is about the same as purchasing a high end champagne and getting Baby Duck instead.

                                In many cases, a dry-aged prime steak from Cumbrae's is better than a lot of the Canadian or American wagyu I've had, though there have been exceptions.

                                1. re: tjr

                                  But the real stuff IS available at the high end places but you pay for it.. Pusateries, Barbarians etc all have it. Imported from Japan Wagu beef

                                  1. re: OnDaGo

                                    I know that wagyu is available at certain places. I was referring to the ridiculous trend of naming non-Kobe beef as "Kobe beef." There is no Kobe in Toronto, as far as I know, though pretty standard high-grade (A5) wagyu has been/is available.

                                    Advertising generic North American wagyu as Kobe beef is pretty bad.

                            2. re: estufarian

                              He's whistling in the dark. Brave faces and wishful thinking about longevity usually indicate big worries. I wish him well and appreciate his moxy but he's late to the dance for high-end eats+groceries. Blue sky isn't a biz model.

                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                We have nothing in Toronto close to a real Gourmet Market of any size.
                                Nothing close to Wegmans in Buffalo!
                                Nothing close to the food markets in Europe, with prepared foods you actually want to eat, and beautiful produce. .
                                I found Woolworths food court in Capetown more High end when it came to tasty looking, and beautifully presented food than anything here.
                                I like Pusateri's but the prepared foods are pathetic.
                                I don't shop Summerhill, but I understand that the prepared foods are decent, but it is small and limited.
                                Can't wait to see if Toronto finally gets the supermarket a city of our size deserves.
                                Who knows, one day we might have a real Waterfront, as well.
                                Wishful thinking.

                                1. re: erly

                                  I will never forget my experience at Julius Meinl in Vienna. I'm hoping McEwan's might aspire to something like that.

                                  1. re: erly

                                    Problem is no one in TO will pay those kinds of prices, so why rhapsodize about European markets with their stroke-inducing price tags? Unless or until a major player does smart upscale(whose size+buying power can deliver quality AND price), we're stuck with extortionists, poseurs, and the current banalities.

                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                      I'd rephrase this as, so long as North Americans spend only 10 percent of their disposable income on food (as opposed to over 30 percent in European countries like France and Italy), it is very difficult for high-end fine-food meccas to succeed.

                                      But how I hope that Mr. McEwan will able to give Pusateri's a run for their money and succeed. I have a lot of respect for him and, if anyone can do this, and do it well, it will be him.

                                      1. re: Tatai

                                        He is going more after Whole foods in size and scale.. Pusateris would fit multiple times inside his new store...

                                      2. re: Kagemusha

                                        Stroke-inducing? Have you been to markets in Europe?

                                        1. re: tjr

                                          I wondered about this too. Maybe true in Vienna or London, but the small town markets in Europe are reasonable, with great produce and meats, and their charcuterie is not sky high as if they were Toronto purveyors.

                                          1. re: jayt90

                                            In the UK, I've never seen anything but high prices--regardless of where I looked, whether it was local produce or EU imports. Eire might be the only exception.

                                            1. re: Kagemusha

                                              If you are talking Harrods, yes.
                                              U.K. is the most expensive, especially London.
                                              They were first, but there are dozens of Harrods type markets all over Europe, and the prices are much fairer.
                                              It is the prepared foods, especially that are totally lacking and downright unappetizing, even in the displays in T.O.
                                              We still have not learned the art of display.
                                              I would bet that McEwen, and co. have visited these markets, and include the feast for the eyes along with the feast.

                                              1. re: erly

                                                I thought "European" markets referred to things like the markets in France, or Italy, etc. Europe is a big, diverse place that consists of more than just the UK, Kagemusha, which is well known for being extremely expensive, especially shopping at the high-end stores (and in GBP).

                                                Even in the UK, there are places more reasonably-priced, and if you look at the kinds of markets in France or Italy, it's pretty obvious that we're getting the shaft here. The UK has a lot of excellent stuff as well, but their market is similar to the US/Canada in terms of convenience food.

                                                1. re: tjr

                                                  Right, the UK isn't "Europe." Not again. We're here, though, and we'll see if Mark's still afloat 12 months along. It'll take more than cheerleaders here to accomplish that. Raquel might be kind enough to point to the supposedly abundant research data indicating a surge in comsumption of gourmet prepared foods. Food emporia in NYC are struggling. All his swagger, smarts and panache can't fight gravity.

                                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                                    We're far more than "cheerleaders" though thank you for suggesting that we invest our money and time in feel good. Fortunately for all of us, McEwan is opening in Toronto, Ontario, Canada not New York, NY, USA. We build our bankers boring here which is just the way I like them. Say who's the hot guy in the bow tie? It's clear that his bank and Cadillac Fairview had to believe in his vision as well.

                                                    As for what’s happening in the grocery sector lately in CANADA, I recalled reading this article dated Feb 5, 2009 when selecting RRSP top-up options:

                                                    I’m guessing, Kagemusha, that you’re not in the marketing dept of your company.

                                                    1. re: Googs

                                                      Oligopoly pays--that's always been the take-home lesson for Canadian investors.Till now. Tell us how your statement for food chain returns looks next year, OK? Good luck.

                                      3. re: erly

                                        It would be great to have something like Summerhill Market in Leslieville, since we have nothing at all, but my experience has been that the deliciousness of their food is overhyped.

                                        Admittedly, they cater to a part of Toronto not known for its culinary adventurousness. Some items are, indeed, stellar, but the beef/mushroom pie, one of their best items, pretty much defines their neighbourhood. Much of their prepared food is just blah. I've been disappointed more often than I've been impressed.

                                        Despite having substantial kitchen facilities, much of their prepared food is brought in. Some of it is identical to items sold at supermarket deli counters. Much of it is, to my palate, bad.

                                        Yes, I sometimes shop there. It's relatively convenient for me and their stock is diverse, extensive, and very well edited (especially given the small size of the store.) However, the prices, even compared to Pusateri's or Cumbrae's, are very high.

                                        1. re: erly

                                          Just a comment on Summerhill Market - their foods WERE good. But I believe Chris Klugman (who I've been following since I discovered him at Karin's restaurant in mid 80's) "disappeared" late last year - and he was responsible (IMO) for the quality prepared foods. Time will tell whether they'll maintain the standards (he's missing from their website, and I can't find another "known" chef who might have replaced him).

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            So Klugman didn't go to All The Best after all? Perhaps he's focusing (ha!) on his photography -

                                            There was also this mention of him "representing" a new olive oil.

                                          2. re: erly

                                            How can you say the prepared foods at Pusateri's are pathetic? I lived on them for a year. They are great. I think they are high quality.

                                  2. The coming year will separate the sheep from the entrepeneurs. Sheep do nothing sealing their fate. McEwan is the latter.

                                    1. There's a little truth in many posts above.

                                      I don't think Wegman's is what he's going for. Wegman's is not a high-end supermarket. It's a high-end supermarket the way Publix is (U.S.) or Sobey's is here. They carry some niche products, but they also carry Froot Loops. Pusateri's/Whole Foods/Summerhill/Bayview/Mt. Pleasant is the target here.

                                      Can we sustain? I don't know. We don't have the type of volume America has, so time will tell. Just because you will walk in there to buy your butter once a month, doesn't necessarily mean that'll pay the bills for him. He'll need everyday traffic and lots of it. Pusateri's has gotten overly fat and lazy and I for one welcome a new kid in town. And this is more personal, but I surely hope that the rudeness of customers will not transfer from Pusateri's to McEwan's. That I can do without. You can probably expect to see perky, young, beautiful and hopefully knowledgeable customer service all around you at McEwan's.

                                      Too lazy to read through and check which poster said that gourmet-high end foods is on the decline, but I'd like to tell you that it's just the opposite! They are on the rise! Don't think that the recession is doing damage. It's not. And the research, if you want to find it is everywhere on the net. Don't think restaurants here, because that IS on the decline. Gourmet prepared foods, etc. THAT'S what's on the rise.

                                      Listen, he's got a Metro in the same "mall" that he's in. He's going for a different type of place here. You will not see price wars on eggs, milk, etc. And if you do, then it will spell trouble.

                                      I really like McEwan. He's got the right amount of swagger and ego and the smarts to back it all up.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Raquel

                                        It seems to me that we are grievously over served by mediocre grocery chains that are mostly interested in selling commodities and undistinguished prepared foods. McEwen has identified this and will likely have a wide range of distinctive food products that will entice discriminating food shoppers and CHs.

                                        If you think Wegman's is special, a 30 minute drive east of NYC, not at rush-hour, is Stu Leonard's in Norwalk, CN. I think of Stu as the Walt Disney of retail grocers. Stu is a former door-to-door milkman who is credited with reinventing the contemporary grocery store. It's an amazing place where customer service is raised to an art form. It looks like Wegman's did a lot of their R & D there.

                                        1. re: iamafoodie

                                          Actually, I don't think Wegman's is special at all. How did we get on Wegman's in the same breath as McEwan's? Two totally different worlds. Wegman's is a regular, run-of-the-mill supermarket. Nice presentation on things, clean (if you go to the right Wegman's), and usually good customer service. It is NOT however, a gourmet supermarket. Again, if you can buy Froot Loops, Crest toothpaste, and pick up your prescription, you are NOT a gourmet market in my book.

                                          Stew Leonard's, eh, personally, it's alright. But no different really than Pusateri's.

                                          The retail in Europe? A different world altogether. In every category: food, quality, presentation and service.

                                          1. re: iamafoodie

                                            The first time I saw Stew Leonard's, it resembled a giant Becker's combined with a kiddie park where they bottled milk in the store. Even today, Stew Leonard's stocks very few items, a couple of thousand at the most. It isn't a "real" supermarket. Wegman's lists almost 40,000 products on their website.

                                            I don't doubt that Wegman's would have studied them (though Wegman's has been around much longer). I suspect that Wegman's looked at Byerly's (Minneapolis), and at our own Ontario Loblaw and Montreal Steinberg operations, even more thoroughly.

                                        2. Kagemusha: I'm sorry, I don't have the time to post all the links and do the homework for you. Just Google certain word combinations with 'sales', 'gourmet', 'take-out', etc and you'll find the abundance. Evidence still, every market that I've read about in the last year have up-sold and increased their prepared food sales. It's not a trend my friend, it's now a lifestyle. I'm not arguing if the gourmet prepared foods segment will survive. It will. It has. It will continue to.

                                          Can you please name the "food emporia" in NYC that are "struggling". I'm curious as to which ones are, because I didn't see much evidence when I was there last week.

                                          39 Replies
                                          1. re: Raquel

                                            But the majority fo his store will not be "Prepared" foods he is opening a grocery store.. 23,000 sq feet of it! if he was jsut doing prepared takeout foods then he would just need a store front....

                                            1. re: OnDaGo

                                              I don't have the plans, so I can't speak on this definitively, but I thought the whole idea, his whole concept was around prepared foods to take-out; the type you can't find anywhere else in the city ie. restaurant quality prepared foods. At least, that's what I got out of all the information that I've read so far on it.

                                              Yes, the sq footage seems like a lot, but you'd be surprised how quickly equipment, displays, small seating area, etc. can take it up! I haven't read anywhere that he's opening up a typical grocery store that will be selling the staples beyond food. I'd be surprised if he did. I think the break-down will ultimately be: Produce, meat, fish, jarred items, prepared foods, bakery, and then maybe a small sit down area to eat-in.

                                              1. re: Raquel


                                                Here is a link to google cache of the article..

                                                "Toronto celebrity chef and restaurateur Mark McEwan is taking on Pusateri’s, Whole Foods and other high-end grocers to launch a gourmet supermarket chain.

                                                The first McEwan store is scheduled to open in Don Mills in January, featuring meals-to-go and grocery staples.

                                                The concept is restaurant-quality prepared foods at a 68-foot-long counter — cuisine he says would pass muster served at his top-flight restaurants — as well as an in-house bakery, fresh fish and meat counters, produce and other regular grocery items. "

                                                So out of 25,000 sq feet he will have a 68ft prepared foods counter rest will be "grocery store" type stuff...

                                                1. re: OnDaGo

                                                  Well there ya go..... Thanks for the refresher.

                                                  I still don't think it's going to be anything like a regular grocery store. Sorry, but I just don't see it with Metro a couple feet away. They have the type of buying power that he doesn't. Do you really think it will be a regular grocery store? Now THAT would be suicide. The way he's going, he's competing on a much much smaller field. And he's a smart guy.

                                                  You can't buy toothpaste at Pusateri's, but alas, you can buy Froot Loops, so I don't know what that tells you.....

                                            2. re: Raquel

                                              Interestingly, when Metro started converting the Dominions stores, it issued findings of an Ipsos-Reid poll that found more people are eating in to save money but don't have the time or inclination to cook good healthy meals, hence they're buying more high-end prepared foods -

                                              1. re: JamieK

                                                When was that survey conducted? Before last fall's collapse, right? Suspect results would be a little different today...

                                                1. re: Kagemusha

                                                  Well, actually as for results being a little different today.....not so much. As I said above, no one should be discussing whether the prepared foods is a trend or not because it's way beyond that. It's now big business. Maybe a little more time researcher these things...KM.




                                                  1. re: Raquel

                                                    Not proven.These are mostly press releases--sorry. What they're trying to sell--or planning to sell-is of no interest to their accountants(or me)who have an interest is how much they're making. Gimme a break.

                                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                                      Wow, all this negativity and glass half empty pontification. It's very easy to sit back and criticize every post, but if you re-read your posts, that's all you're doing. At least some of us are trying to find evidence of why we think this will succeed and more importantly, as those who live to eat great food, why we WANT it to succeed. Why don't you pony up some of your own research instead of being so vague and casting a wide brush of "it won't work" period? Why won't McEwan's succeed? Because you said so? There's gotta be more....

                                                      BTW, I follow Coach very closely and although not food, they do have a winning strategy in choosing real estate locations. But then again, perhaps we'll get enlightened with another ray of darkness as to why that store will also fail in these economic times...... it's a chain, it's purses, it's American...I can hear it now.....

                                                      1. re: Raquel

                                                        Maybe that's why parliamentary debates have time limits, otherwise it all becomes circular.

                                                        Sometimes anonymity breeds contempt.

                                                        1. re: Snarf

                                                          Can you say that again.........but in English?

                                                        2. re: Raquel

                                                          It is not a foodie area nobody goes there now for fine dining or high end food period so it is "out of the way". It has to be a destination place where you make a specific point of getting in your car and driving there which is always a risk.

                                                          Opening a smaller place in the yorkville area like pusateries did draws walk by business, people who shop at other high end shops in the area, and people who frequest holefoods etc. and for all the foodies with no car (like me) it is easily accessible. I am not saying yorkville is teh place for him but giving an example of busness logic for opening there. Where are the fine dining places in Don Mills? do foodies go there now? As they are grabbing a slice at Pizza Pizza or picking up milk at Metro they get a craving for some truffles? And do the customers want to be taking their shiny expensive cars through a construction site for the next two years as the other phases are finished?

                                                          As for Coach their winning strategy has decreased their stock prices from over $50 two years ago down to under $15 now.. and a lot of the drop was before the economic downturn... And I will hate to see thier sales figures next quarter.... their plan is to open 20 more Canadian stores so they will have to open in some less then perfect locations as they are already in the 9 prime locations...

                                                          1. re: OnDaGo

                                                            I find it funny that those that don't actually live in the area have so much to comment on income levels and if there are foodies living here or not! Actually, it's a bit offensive, luckily I don't take offense that easily.....

                                                            I live in a million-dollar plus home not in Bridle Path, but very close and also very near the new mall location. I shop at No Frills, Longo's, Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Nortown, Nasr (though not anymore after today) as well as Pusateri's, Cumbrae's, Diana's, etc. etc. etc. I also go to Europe 5 times a year and the Caribbean twice a year. One of my neighbours is a neuro-surgeon on one side, the other a Bay Street chairman. So, I think it's safe to say that you're conclusions of the area being low to mid income are very wrong. There may be pockets of low-income, but it is not the norm in the area.

                                                            As for Coach, you need to read more carefully, I said they were a very strong company for choosing real estate locations. I did not talk about their stock price or the state of the economy. They choose TRIPLE A locations. I guess next maybe you can speak about the LCBO's downfall too?

                                                            1. re: Raquel

                                                              Don't go there! Save it for another board.

                                                              If it wasn't a monopoly it would have been out of business decades ago.
                                                              It is easily the worst run, most wasteful company in the country.

                                                              1. re: garlicandwingnut

                                                                I think alot are missing the point here.

                                                                We're not talking about how well-run these business are, what their business models are, or even what their stock prices are.

                                                                What we ARE discussing is McEwan's. His upscale grocery market coming into the area, and whether or not the area can sustain it. Nothing less, nothing more.

                                                                To get into debates on whether Coach, LCBO, Anthropologie, Browns, etc. are well run retail is best left for the Not About Food board here.

                                                                I brought it up to point out that these are big brands with well-thought out real estate locations.

                                                              2. re: Raquel

                                                                Raquel, you are the Girl.
                                                                Downtown dwellers do not understand that we Jog, we run, but always take our cars to the Market.
                                                                Although I usually agree with embee, he is way off this time.
                                                                There is wealth big time,, and lots of it everywhere East of Don Mills Road.
                                                                How many of Pusateris customers walk there?
                                                                How many walk to Diana's?
                                                                Yes, we live by our cars, and this our lifestyle.
                                                                McEwen is a shrewd businessman.
                                                                Look at his restaurants, and their locations.
                                                                The food is not the same at any.
                                                                Each attract a different crowd.

                                                                1. re: erly

                                                                  I stand by my comments. The area surrounding this new mall ranges from very rich to not well off at all. Contrast this with, say, Bayview/York Mills, which is solid wealth all around.

                                                                  There is, indeed, extreme wealth west of Don Mills Rd. There's also wealth in pockets to the north and to the east.

                                                                  Five minutes to the south, you'll find poverty. Yet south of there, though few believe me, there's some real wealth hidden in Thorncliffe Park.

                                                                  My demographic definitions were very specific. And you folks will, indeed, go by car. I don't think we disagree at all.

                                                                  It always fascinates me when threads go so far afield. All I wanted to do was contrast upmarket food shopping in Manhattan with the same kind of shopping in suburban Toronto.

                                                                  I pass that area regularly, and it's likely obvious I'll try McEwan's. But I will be looking for ingredients that I can't get more conveniently, or at all, elsewhere.

                                                                  I'll drive some distance for Patisserie Royale, or Diana's, or (until recently) Nasr's. I won't go to Don Mills for expensive salads, cooked prime rib, or other foods I'd rather cook myself.

                                                                  Had he chosen my neighbourhood, Leslieville, I probably would pick up takeout, which was the original NY poster's point. Many of us downtown dwellers would like to buy fresh food every day :-)

                                                                  Don Mills Plaza has an interesting history. It was originally an outdoor shopping centre to which everyone in the subdivision could (theoretically) walk. Many stores were mid-upper and, with its summer gardens, it was quite a beautiful place.

                                                                  When they enclosed it in the seventies, they made it comfortable in winter but otherwise destroyed it. Even outlet stores failed to thrive. In the final days, they seemed to attract mainly retired mall walkers from the surrounding low rent apartments.

                                                                  The touted concept was a "new urban" neighbourhood - not just another (and outdoor, yet) mall. I hope it does well. This is not a great time to be opening a high end food store, in an outdoor mall, in an area low foodie interest.

                                                              3. re: OnDaGo

                                                                Do you (or does anyone) know if there are any restaurants in the works for the plaza? Aside from Jack Astor's, of course. I am anticipating there will be other shops/restos of interest to attract people....

                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                  OPENING SOON

                                                                  Fast Food
                                                                  Pizza Pizza

                                                                  Glow, by Rose Reisman
                                                                  Joey’s Grill & Lounge
                                                                  Linda, by Salad King

                                                                  Specialty Food


                                                        3. re: Kagemusha

                                                          Perhaps. The collapse made big news but in fact a lot of people were starting to feel the pain well before then.

                                                          On the other topic, there was an article in Maclean's last summer about the rise of prepared-food shops at high-end restaurants. Not the same as a large speciality food store like McEwan's but interesting...

                                                          1. re: JamieK

                                                            Thanks for posting this. Good read. I must have missed it when it first came out....

                                                            BTW, I'm sure McEwan and his folks are having a good read with us!

                                                            1. re: Raquel

                                                              I quite doubt that Mr. McEwan cares about what Chowhounders are saying about his new establishment BEFORE it has even opened for business.

                                                              1. re: Tatai

                                                                Really? I beg to differ. I think ALOT of restaurateurs/retailers come on here to read what Chowhounders have to say.

                                                                Smart businesspeople always take the pulse of their target markets.

                                                      2. re: Raquel

                                                        The three "food emporia" in my neighborhood, Citarella, Grace's and Eli's, don't look like they're struggling. Still crowded and the quality is still high. And even though they're only a few blocks from each other and compete with regular grocery stores (Gristedes and D'Agostino's), all have enough customers to keep them going.

                                                        The mindset of the typical Citarella/Grace's/Eli's customer is to buy groceries every couple days so you're always eating fresh meat, fish, bread and produce, and you can match your cravings more closely. It means more trips to the store, but usually only one bag to carry home. If that's the typical customer @ Don Mills, great, maybe he'll be successful. But if the typical customer goes grocery shopping once a week and buys a trunk load of groceries, they may get sticker shock from buying so much all at once from his store.

                                                        1. re: GoodGravy

                                                          GoodGravy - those places are in Manhattan. Just wondering why you're posting on the Ontario board? You had me confused - I thought there were some great Toronto food shops that I didn't know about.

                                                          1. re: bigos70

                                                            LOL, sorry for the confusion, I was reading Raquel's post i/r/t higher end markets in NYC, and figured I'd weigh in. I'm in Toronto every once in a while so I split my time between both boards.

                                                          2. re: GoodGravy

                                                            This is a suburban location where a fifties mall is being replaced by an outdoor "lifestyle" plaza. (This is, of course, a ridiculous idea in our climate, but WTF...)

                                                            The immediately surrounding area is lower middle income. The target clientele will come almost exclusively by car and will not drop in every day or two while passing by. The original proposal sold to the neighbourhood included upmarket condos in addition to shopping, which would be on "streets" - the so called "new urbanism" philosophy, but the only thing happening is a big outdoor mall.

                                                            1. re: embee

                                                              "The immediately surrounding area is lower middle income."

                                                              Maybe. But, how about going just 1-2km further and you get to the Bridal Path and the areas around it. It is also with a short jaunt from Leaside and North Toronto. With ample free parking, I can see it competing with the Bayview Strip even.

                                                              1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                You are certainly correct.

                                                                I was responding to GoodGravy, who was describing shopping habits in an affluent Manhattan neighbourhood. Most kitchens have little storage space, many people don't have cars or don't want to move the cars they have, and parking is impossible. A ridiculous number of people eat only takeout at home and never cook.

                                                                Many people shop regularly - even daily - for groceries and prepared foods. It's a walking city, and people shop at stores that they pass, or come close to, virtually every day. Most stores are small - many Manhattan "supermarkets" are smaller than a typical Bruno's.

                                                                People will drive to McEwan's, as per my previous post. It won't be a daily shopping spot for the neighbourhood. Those who can actually walk there won't be shopping there. I don't think a typical Manhattan "gourmet" shop and McEwan's are comparable.

                                                                I can't prognosticate on whether McEwan's will succeed. This isn't a good time to be opening such a venture. Unlike other recent recessions, this one is affecting the spending capabilities and, more importantly, the attitudes of many affluent people, though things (so far) are better here than in the US.

                                                                1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                  The Bridle path area only contains a few hundred afluent households rest is middle income...

                                                                  1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                    You have got to be kidding.
                                                                    York Mills Bayview middle income???
                                                                    Even Don Mills North is becoming Yuppie.
                                                                    I have lived in the area for 40 years, and Middle income it is not!

                                                                    1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                      Lawrence Park, Leaside, North Toronto, are more upper middle than middle. And middle these days in those areas means probably having to spend upwards of 3/4 mill to buy a starter home there.

                                                                      1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                        Definitely not. Even Lawrence & Leslie is more affluent than that. True, there are "middle income" hubs, along the Donway, but there's plenty of money even at Leslie & Lawrence.

                                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                                          The apartments surrounding Don Mills Plaza, within easy walking distance, are pretty much lower middle income.

                                                                          The homes immediately beyond that ring are now considered mid-century architectural gems and are by no means cheap to buy. However, many residents have lived here forever and are now on fixed incomes. Also, the dominant culture has never been food centric. Yes this is changing, but slowly. Many of the new residents here are heavily mortgaged and don't have much discretionary cash.

                                                                          Don Mills from Eglinton to Sheppard and the York Mills/Leslie intersection are not affluent areas. Neither is the area extending east from Don Mills along Lawrence. Victoria Park, the next major street to the east, is working class to its core.

                                                                          McEwan is undoubtedly expecting to draw from the surrounding affluent areas in York Mills, along Bayview and Leslie, and possibly from Leaside and Lawrence Park. Unknown to many, there is also some real money (and no nearby food shopping) in a few of Thorncliffe Park towers.

                                                                          I personally don't think the Bridle Path even matters. Few people actually live in those monster homes. Many of those who do spend much of the year away from Toronto.

                                                                          All that said, it's really tangential to my original point. I was addressing a post about high end food shopping in Manhattan by contrasting the lifestyle there with that of Don Mills.

                                                                          Cadillac Fairview sold the neighbourhood a bill of goods. I remember the billboards: "How would you feel if Don Mills Plaza became more than a mall?" They promised an exciting mix of upscale residential, commercial, and high end retail, in an urban setting, on a street grid, with pedestrian traffic. This would be great for a place like McEwan's.

                                                                          They had many neighbourhood "consultation" meetings. Then they went ahead and started building - - - a mall.

                                                                          Unlike in Manhattan, people won't wander in here every couple of days on their way home from work. This will be "drive to" destination shopping, in a mall shared with a Metro store established for more than fifty years. If McEwan offers a wide variety of food not available elsewhere, he should (ignoring the recession for the moment) do well. If he duplicates the supermarket at a higher price level, why would anyone bother going?

                                                                          I'm sure McEwan's backers have done their homework, and I suspect he's a better businessman than David Wood ever was. I hope Cadillac Fairview got this one right, since I think my wife's pension plan owns it :-)

                                                                          1. re: embee

                                                                            McEwan's backers are 'McEwan'! He has stated in print that that he is financing and developing the project by himself.

                                                                            He will be able to supply his restaurants with many prepped dishes, much like Gilead. That is a synergistic cost saving.

                                                                            I think the toughest problem will be to sell food and take out to the thousands of ethnic or immigrant families along the Don Mills strip. There are not as many wasps as in E.P. Taylor's day. And these new people know good food, and how much to pay for it.

                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                              You are right, embee, about the bulk of homes in the area, though there are some monied streets off of Don Mills Road north of Lawrence, and behind Rippleton School on Leslie, also north of Lawrence. I think there are condos near Don Mills & Eglinton (Wynford?) where people have a fair bit of money. But, yes, overall it is not a densely monied place. Not enough, in the area, to support a store that size. It's on my way home from work, though, and I'm hoping for something good.

                                                                              1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                I wish him the very best and am happy it is him not me undertaking this. Probably because of risk averse old age I would be s#*tting bricks!

                                                                                My guess is that he is looking at a rent of close to $75,000/month (inc. taxes, heat, hydro, buildout and fixturing). which means that he will likely have to do about $500,000/month to break even. That's a lot of couscous and organic carrots!

                                                                                The second phase of the Plaza project is supposed to be 1300 fairly expensive condos next door. This would provide a nice captive audience if it gets built and occupied soon.

                                                                                The future sure looked rosy a few years ago for high end restaurateurs, developers, caterers and even the hoi polloi!

                                                                                Now a PB&J with a Prozac looks good!

                                                                                1. re: garlicandwingnut

                                                                                  It will take at least two years of construction debris and dumptrucks in the plaza before there are people living in those condos and shopping at his location.. will he last through to that point? Most condo projects that do not have a hole dug in Toronto are in a holding pattern and many may not be built...

                                                                                  1. re: garlicandwingnut

                                                                                    Wow....all this attention for little ol Don Mills. This is the most exciting event, gastronomically speaking, that has happend in Don Mills in recent memory. To actually have easy access to these kinds of food products, meats, fish, vegtables, breads, not to mention the prepared food section is going to be welcomed here.

                                                                                    For those that do not think the is enough money in the surrounding neighbourhoods to support a store like this, take a run up to the Longos Plaza at York Mills and Leslie which is a mere 5 minutes drive north of the new Shops at Don Mills. The parking lot is crawling with Mercedes, BMW's, Lexus, Range Rovers etc. all the time. Sure there is the odd Scarboro Cadillac (Chev Cavalier) but there are upper middle class neighbourhoods in the immediate area (I'm in one) and there is money just to the East including the Bridal Path with Leaside and North Toronto just minutes away by car.

                                                                                    The bottom line is, like many people here, I wish McEwan luck. I really hope he makes a go of it. I will be one of the first in line to test it out. If he does it right, they will come.

                                                                                    Now all we need is a decent restaurant!!

                                                                  2. The man is taking a chance, maybe a calculated one, maybe not.

                                                                    It's fun to cut down the tallest sunflower (and sort of a Canadian national pastime), but really, I wish him luck and plan to drop in when the place opens. And predicting future economic trends based on events of three months ago is a game best left for professional economists, who get paid for their predictions.

                                                                    1. Folks, this thread is veering wildly off topic, and even when it's on topic is speculation about a store that does not yet exist. We're going to lock it and ask that people return to discussing chow they can actually get now.