Toronto restaurants cautiously optimistic they will not be closed for indoor dining again

As restrictions lift in Toronto on Jan. 31 with restaurants allowed to open for dine-in at 50 per cent capacity, owners are optimistic they’ll never have to close for indoor dining again.

While lots of places got creative with takeout and delivery options, it was still sad that their beautiful dining rooms that took so much effort to build sat empty.

Bar Mordecai had just transformed dull real estate offices into a lush Wes-Anderson-inspired wonderland at the dawn of 2020, not knowing that their then-packed interior would soon have to stay empty.

“I think there is a lot of hopeful energy right now, for guests and the hospitality industry, that this will be the last time we will see a full lockdown,” Mordecai owner Emily Leblanc tells blogTO.

“That said, we have all also learned to be cautious with our optimism.”

A lot was invested in design and operating infrastructure at the spacious restaurant, which has spent the majority of its time open laboring under restrictions.

“At Mordecai, we are just looking forward to working with our full team together again, seeing our guests come back, and the space come back to what it was meant to do. We were not designed to be a takeout business,” says Leblanc.

“Being able to be open indoors is the only version of our business that truly makes sense. It is a relief to get back to that.”

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The intimate, romantic interior of Il Covo. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Italian restaurant Il Covo similarly relies on its atmosphere as a huge part of what makes it tick. Full of nooks and crannies, the moody space is inspired by Venice.

“I feel we’ll be open for the long haul now but you never know, a new variant would do the trick,” owner Ryan Campbell tells blogTO.

“Having the doors open for indoor dining often feels like the only way to survive. Running a restaurant is tough enough as it is let alone dealing with full closures. Having the doors open this week is a beautiful feeling and will hopefully we’ll bring in enough revenue to pay the bills, but I’m optimistic. “

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Dining room at Jules Bistro back when it was allowed to be packed. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Jules Bistro owner David Piltz is also looking forward to being open indoors, but similarly still has concerns about bills while still being restricted to 50 per cent capacity.

“Our biggest concern is that at 50 percent capacity it will be a challenge to keep all our staff fully employed and our fixed overheads paid for,” Piltz tells blogTO.

There’s a ray of hope in the fact that Jules is booked to their max allowable capacity for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1., even though it’s still only half of what’s needed to cover expenses.

“From the reservations we have received so far it appears our customers are excited to be able to dine with us again,” says Piltz.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez at Bar Mordecai

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