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La Palette shuttering its Kensington location this weekend

When Shamez Amlani muses about this coming Sunday, it’s not without a little sentimentality. Three days from now, the restaurant he co-owns in Kensington Market, La Palette, will shut its doors for good so that he and his team can concentrate on the Queen West location. Ten years ago, Amlani and his associates applied a meagre $18,000 to a grungy Chinese joint and turned it into an edgy French bistro. They never imagined that it would have taken off the way it did. “It’s a miracle,” Amlani tell us. “We shot at the moon, and we actually hit it.”

Back then, Kensington Market’s nightlife left something to be desired. “There was a junky bar across the street and not much else going on,” he recalls. La Palette helped pave the way for an influx of hip new venues, like Supermarket and Waterfalls, and was integral in organizing the neighbourhood’s Pedestrian Sundays.

Amlani, of course, will soon focus all of his attention on the new incarnation of La Palette on Queen West. The two restaurants will be consolidated, and Queen West denizens will see La Palette offering a lunch menu in the near future and staying open later in the evening.

As for the flagship, Amlani wanted to keep it going, but was facing an unfavourable lease. He’s not looking back, though. He sees the challenge of setting up shop on Queen Street—“a cesspool of burgers and wings and pizza, in many ways”—as similar to the one he faced 10 years ago in Kensington. “It’s history repeating itself,” he says.

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