Marc Thuet closes Conviction for good, but has two new restaurants in the works

Marc Thuet closes Conviction for good, but has two new restaurants in the works

Biana Zorich and Marc Thuet at the opening of Conviction in 2009 (Image: Karon Liu)

Just over a year after opening Conviction—the third incarnation of their flagship restaurant—chef Marc Thuet and partner Biana Zorich have closed the restaurant for good. A lapsed lease has spelled the end of team Thuet’s presence on King Street West—and the end of an era, seeing as the couple was among the first to colonize what is now a hot restaurant strip. Now they’re turning their attention to places as close as Rosedale and as far away as Alsace. Anywhere, they say, but King West.

“It was my first business. It definitely tugs at my heart,” says Zorich about the space at 609 King Street West, which has housed some form of Thuet restaurant since 2005. First it was Bistro and Bakery Thuet, then briefly became Bite Me! in 2008. The cheekiest change, however, came in May 2009, when Thuet and Zorich rebranded the boîte Conviction and stacked the staff with ex-cons for their reality series Conviction Kitchen. This summer, the restaurant was on hiatus for the filming of the show’s second season in Vancouver, which begins its run on Citytv October 24.

Now Thuet tells us that King West’s Conviction will officially shutter November 1.

Apparently, it wasn’t the reality TV curse that sentenced Conviction (sorry, David Adjey)—a third season of Conviction Kitchen, possibly in the U.S., is still under discussion—it was disenchantment with King West and the pull of new projects. “We just weren’t happy. We had to step away,” says Zorich of the five-year lease that recently came up for renegotiation. Expense plus the new buzz and businesses on the block soured the King West colonists. “When Marc and I landed there six years ago, it was a little hush-hush, a little bit of a destination place. It changed right before my eyes.”

Thuet is also weary of the celebrity chef plague: overextension. “Maybe I’m a control freak,” he says. “I have trouble opening five or six businesses and not being there.”

So what’s next? Thuet and Zorich are opening an inn in Trois-Épis, Alsace (which Zorich dubs “the German armpit of France”). They’re refurbishing a 600-year-old monastery for 2011; it will include a cooking school and be run by a new partner, Thuet’s brother.

Despite the overseas venture, Marc says he’s staying in Toronto, where a new, smaller restaurant staffed by Conviction expats is on the horizon for 2012. The team is considering the east end. The Petite Thuet bakery at 244 King East is already their breadquarters; could it become the new 609 King West? However, opening a new location in Rosedale seems more likely. “We know Rosedale very well. It would be a natural step,” says Zorich, who has a shop in the area.

The duo will also focus on their flourishing bread biz. They recently scored a contract to supply  the new Ritz-Carlton (they’re in talks with other hotels), and their dough can be found at all kinds of foodie hot spots, like the Cheese Boutique and the Black Hoof.

Finally, what celebrity chef is complete without a book? Thuet will publish French Food My Way this fall. The collection of Grandma-inspired French recipes is curated by season and meal. “The way I look at it, sometimes French food scares people off,” says Thuet. “I kept it so that everybody can go on my journey.”