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Feb 11, 2014 12:45 PM

World’s Biggest Bookstore to become restaurant row

The World’s Biggest Bookstore will be transformed into a row of four restaurants, scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. Plans for the location at 20 Edward Street near Yonge and Dundas were revealed Tuesday.
The space will include multi‐level patios and soaring ceilings.

“This new restaurant row will be the best dining experience Toronto has to offer,” the release states, adding that it will be a “culinary mecca” that will open in time for the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. “With 250 feet of frontage, each of the four restaurants will have numerous eye-catching signage and branding opportunities to pull in the millions of yearly patrons.”

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  1. HAHA!!! What a joke. There are so many things wrong with this "press release" that I don't even know where to begin. Good luck to Lifetime Developments and Paracom Realty!

    7 Replies
    1. re: CarNut

      So I guess you would rather have another condo tower go up in that location?

      1. re: pourboi

        Who said I'd rather have another condo in this location? All I said was that I think there are LOTS of things wrong with their plan and with the press release.

        1. This location is surrounded by high rises, most notably Atrium on Bay across the road, which has approval to add 5 floors to each of the existing towers. The "multi-level patios" will be great, in the shade all day long.

        2. To me, the "best dining experience" includes great food and service, but also includes unique things like maybe a great view, easy parking or access, and not in an area where (unfortunately) there have been a number of public shootings.

        3. To be open for the 2015 Film Festival, they need to start construction THIS spring. The store isn't closing until the end of March.

        4. I don't understand how the "signage and branding opportunities" will "pull in the millions of yearly patrons" when the site doesn't have great exposure to either Yonge Street or Bay Street.

        5. The rents that are going to be needed in this location, given what Lifetime paid for the land and what construction costs will be, will ensure that it will only be more chain restaurants.

        And finally, the rumour is that Eataly is going in one of the new towers near ACC/Union Station (I've heard of one specifically, but since it's just a rumour, I don't want to say).

        1. re: CarNut

          1. This location is surrounded by high rises...The "multi-level patios" will be great, in the shade all day long.

          - Yup that REALLY hurt South of Temperance.. This is Toronto you got people fighting for the window seats in the restaurants opening on to Yonge St across from the Eatons centre when the weather is nice a 300 seat roof top Patio would be Rammed!

          2. and not in an area where (unfortunately) there have been a number of public shootings.

          - There have been more shootings in King West / Entertainment District. And way more Deaths.. But it is still a very safe area and not an area to be afraid to be in.

          1. re: pourboi

            Also.... Parking, really? There is easy access... by subway. Even Rob Ford agrees it's the best way to get around.

            1. re: pourboi

              This restaurant row makes sense from a business perspective and will do very well with tourists and visitors, though it likely will attract larger chains and won't be a "foodie" destination. That's fine, there's lots of room for everything in Toronto.

              This is the core of downtown, a stone's throw from the Eaton Centre, Dundas Square, the giant Aura condo, and Ryerson University. The subway station is right there and people visiting the area by car will have already parked in one of the underground garages nearby, they won't want to drive again to eat.

              As for the area being dangerous, that's silliness, downtown Toronto is one of the safest of any large city. The unfortunate Jane Creba shooting was almost 10 years ago, and the more recent food court incident was a (very stupid) settling of a private score that could have happened anywhere. 50,000 people a day pass through Dundas and Yonge, more people than the population of most towns in Canada, that's why many things happen near there, good and bad.

              And skyscraper shade? Well, tall buildings are all over downtown, and restaurants everywhere with patios are booming, I see no reason why this spot would be different.

              1. re: Gary

                It always astonishes me when people consider Yonge/Dundas a violent or dangerous area. Murder happens everywhere, but people seem to remember the highly infrequent (though certainly tragic and disturbing) Yonge/Dundas ones and forget all the others.

                1. re: Gary

                  Not to mention it is a silly presumption that they won't include additional parking in the plans!

        2. Glad it isn't some bland glass condo tower but those SketchUp renderings are horrendous.

          21 Replies
          1. re: radiopolitic

            Well, before the bookstore, the upstairs was the best pool hall in the city. Used to shoot 8-ball there in the early 70's after listening to some fine jazz at the Colonial or enjoying a steak and a cigar at Barbarian's. All the colour is being sucked out of downtown, replaced by trendy, chi-chi, bland, Potemkin troughs, with all the reality of a mood ring.

            1. re: TorontoTuna

              So when was the last time you were in the "Worlds Largest Bookstore"? That is what is closing here...

              I do not think it is a great loss to the downtown or the city. It added no "colour" to the city and just created a solid blank wall which killed the street pedestrian traffic.

              I for one would rather have a restaurant complex and outdoor patios that create live at street level than another condo building.

              Even though I have a feeling it will be created with a group of chain restos like OB on front has done and recently in the condo at Yonge & Gerrard where Sir Corp has three of their restos in the base of the building... I do hope at least they will be new interesting options.. Eataly? by Mario Batali for instance...

              1. re: pourboi

                maybe the clsoing of an indigo/chapters will be a boon to smaller bookshops.

                1. re: frogsteak

                  The "Worlds Biggest Book Store" that is closing is/was fully owned by Chapters/Indigo for those who do not know...

                  1. re: pourboi

                    The store was run by them but I am pretty sure they didn't own the property. I think it was owned by the Cole's family (Cole's sold off their store chain to Indigo but kept the real estate of this location).

                2. re: pourboi

                  I would be very surprised if anything but big-money-backed corporate entities open there. And when that happens, and I'm almost certain it will, it'll be a pity and no different than condos taking over.

                  I realize it's a cynical view. But that is my feeling.

                  1. re: magic

                    ok there's lots of restaurant in town and the yonge and dundas area is a shit show already.

                    1. re: magic

                      I realise but that does not have to mean same old .. like I said something like a mini Eataly by Mario Batali could be fun..

                      1. re: pourboi

                        I agree with you. I'm just saying don't hold your breath guy.

                        An Eataly type place would be fantastic and a breath of fresh air. I'm not certain that is going to happen.

                        I love my city but I've seen zero indication that something along an Eataly, and with the integrity of Eataly, would open there.

                        I’m thinking a fantastically boring and vanilla O+B venture and places along those lines.

                        I hope I'm wrong.

                        1. re: magic

                          Sorry, I'm confused, Eataly has integrity?

                          1. re: bytepusher

                            ya $300 gift basket of $5 olive oils. best deal in nyc.

                            1. re: bytepusher

                              I'm not going to get into a discussion over any integrity Eataly may or may not have.

                              My point is I'd rather see something interesting and good in this new resto complex versus something like O+B and such.

                              1. re: magic

                                In terms of restaurants I see absolutely no difference, not one stick, between what O+B do and what B+B do in Eataly, except that no O+B property gets quite as douchey as Birriera can be at times.

                                Note that I am not talking about other B+B restaurants in NYC, just what's in Eataly.

                                1. re: bytepusher

                                  I'm not really talking about restaurants, I'm talking about an overall food experience.

                                  Walk through O+B's Foodwares in The Bay on Queen and compare that to walking through Eataly.

                                  Eataly is a sensory experience. Foodwares, which could be so much more than it is, is a notch above an office cafeteria. There's just no way to compare the two.

                                  And when was the last time O+B Canteen made anyone's must-visit list while in Toronto? Vanilla.

                                  Forget Eataly. I just want something interesting in this new project. That is my point.

                                2. re: magic

                                  Chris Nuttall-Smith and Karon Liu just tweeted that there will be no Eataly in Toronto for @ least 3 years.

                                  1. re: kwass

                                    Oh that's fine. I'd rather it not come here anyways. It's special in NYC.

                                    Most of the time when sucessful formulas set up shop in Toronto it never translates well on so many fronts. It's just not the same - to me at any rate.

                                    (Other than Momofuku and a small handful of others perhaps.)

                              2. re: magic

                                Just saw this, obviously there's nothing beyond apparent rumour and speculation but it's being tossed around:


                        2. re: TorontoTuna

                          Haha. Don't jump to conclusions, dude, I haven't tweeted a day in my life and I don't plan on starting. There's a new 60s yorkville and there's a new Kensington market, and in 20 years there'll be a new junction or roncesvalles or Hamilton. You're also misinterpreting what I meant by scenes, 60s yorkville was a scene created by its participants and there are many other, different scenes and cultures now thriving in this city, some more interesting and probably akin to your old handouts than others, but don't jump to the conclusion that things aren't happening because you don't know about them

                            1. re: disgusti

                              Who exactly are you responding to?

                              1. re: szw

                                No one I just made all that stuff up because I like the sound of my own e-voice

                        3. what's the best dining experience Toronto has to offer?

                          Casey's, St. Louis, Jack Astor's, Lone Star, Kelsey's, Milestone's, Montana's, Swiss Chalet?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: filtered

                            if you can combine them all together and serve me ALL YOU CAN SHNARFF BREADSTICKS, i'd be on it like a mutherfukker!!

                            (not really)

                          2. Well this is good news - anything is better than the existing bookstore IMHO. Although I live in Ottawa I visit Toronto once or twice a year and stay in a nearby hotel. The last time I was in the World's Biggest Bookstore as recently as last November there were mostly homeless people there... I have never eaten near Yonge Dundas Square nor do I plan on it since I am not terribly fond of large chain-like places. I will happily stroll over to the Dundas/Spadina area or Front Street East for dinner. On my next visit later this year I plan on bringing a pile of loonies and toonies to take public transit to Little India, 7 Numbers, Pacific Mall and a few other places on my "to try" list. The only places I have been to in the area lately are The Senator for breakfast and Hokkaido Ramen Santuoka for ramen. I'd love to find some good eating in the neighbourhood.

                            I think this spot will be ideal for new restos since the Delta Chelsea and the Eaton Centre Marriott are close by as well as the Eaton Centre and access to public transit. Hopefully the owners will open something chow-worthy. And, of course, I'd love to hear what other chowhounders have to say and I imagine it will be lots-;)

                            1 Reply
                            1. I really don't think this idea stands a chance of ever happening. The restaurant industry is pretty tough and any of these big chains they want to attract generally will only invest the money to open a place if they can get at least 20 year leases.

                              What restaurant is going to spend millions of dollars on a lease and millions renovating these places just to be evicted less than 10 years after opening.

                              Another thing is that there is a lot of competition at Yonge and Dundas and although there is alot of people on the area, not a lot of them are willing to make the walk down Edward street to go to a restaurant, especially mid winter.

                              And then on top of that you're gonna open your place right next to 3 other restaurants who are gonna be fighting for business before you all close in less than 10 years.