Oliver and Bonacini to take over Shopsy’s downtown spot
Oliver and Bonacini can’t be stopped. The restaurant consortium—which recently announced two new restaurants in the Bell Lightbox—is opening yet another outlet in the city. This time, it is one of the company’s café grills, which will take up shop in the space vacated by Shopsy’s at Yonge and Front Streets. With restaurants in Blue Mountain, Oakville and Bayview Village, the Oliver and Bonacini Café Grill is the casual (and more affordable) yin to Canoe’s posh yang. The downtown location is slated to open on March 15, 2010.
Company partner Michael Bonacini says the reason for the distant opening date is that the company won’t officially take possession of the space until the end of August. As the man overseeing the construction process, he is planning a spacious decor with a simple chocolate and white colour scheme. Like the three existing cafés, the new location will have a menu that combines American and Italian fare: panini, burgers, salads, pastas and the popular wood-fired pizzas. In addition to lunch and dinner, breakfast will be served every day, and a 150-seat patio will be installed.
Opening three new spots at once is a bold move, but Bonacini bounced back from initial worries when he looked at the numbers. “I would be telling you a big fat lie if I said the recession wasn’t a concern,” he says. “But we’re only eight to 10 per cent below sales compared to the same time last year, so I’ve been way more optimistic in the past month than I was in January. I’ve got my mojo back.”
The 33 Yonge Street spot is a prime location for bringing in tourists: it’s located across from the Hockey Hall of Fame and within walking distance of Union Station, the St. Lawrence Market and the Air Canada Centre. It certainly makes sense for Oliver and Bonacini to jump on the space; its casual-dining status won’t compete with neighbouring Acqua and Colborne Lane, and this is definitely a step up from other Front Street offerings, like Spring Rolls and The Old Spaghetti Factory (though there will always be a place in our hearts for eating spaghetti in a streetcar).