Arthur Carman, the renowned proprietor of Carman’s Dining Club, near Maple Leaf Gardens, passed away at his home Tuesday. He was 84.
Born Athanasios Karamanos in Greece, Carman and his storied namesake steak house once represented the epitome of fine dining in Toronto. Carman’s opened in 1959, with clientele that included Al Green, Nat King Cole, Lorne Greene and Sammy Davis Jr. Diners still reminisce about the smell of garlic in the air and the nostalgic decor that stood out in a neighbourhood that evolved from quiet residences in the Leafs’ backyard to a thriving gay village dotted with high-rises. The restaurant closed last year just as it celebrated its 50th year in operation.
A memorial site has been set up where people can write messages of condolence. Among the people who’ve contributed is George Bigliardi, owner of yet another eponymous restaurant just blocks away from Carman’s (it closed last year). He writes:
I was saddened to learn about the passing of my friend Mr. Carmen. Over the years I have always admired his courage and the achievement of building his restaurant into a Toronto institution. My restaurant was located on Church Street around the corner, and sometimes Mr. Carmen would drop by later in the evening and we would spend and hour or two in enjoyable conversation. I always believed that he did not receive the recognition he deserved for his considerable contribution to Toronto and the hospitality business. He was a great person, and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Arthur Carman is survived by his wife, Kathleen, as well as his extended family.