Oliver and Bonacini empire expands into the Bell Lightbox

Oliver and Bonacini empire expands into the Bell Lightbox

King me: The Bell Lightbox (Image courtesy of Belllightbox.ca)

Gossiping about who feeds TIFF’s celebs and attendees (but mostly celebs) is one of Toronto’s favourite September pastimes. Chatter has already started about this year’s culinary destinations (book now for Nota Bene), but 2010 is getting its share of the spotlight, too, thanks to the new Bell Lightbox. The usual suspects—Bistro 990, Barberian’s, One, etc.—are in for a bit of a change once the centre of the festival moves from Yorkville to TIFF Group’s new home on King West. We’re paying close attention to the multi-cinema-condo-retail complex, where not one but two Oliver and Bonacini eateries are going in.

Cliff Snell, director of business operations at Oliver and Bonacini, says one of the new spots will be a 3,500-square-foot space on the main floor. It will be bistro style, with takeout, a café and a casual marketplace atmosphere. The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and well into the night to cater to the condo dwellers of the adjoining Festival Tower. “It’s so people in the city can drop by to grab something quick, and those living in the condos can come down to buy dinner and take it back upstairs,” he says, adding that there will be space for 90 on funky banquettes and a communal table (yes, another one) and an additional 90 on the patio.

Diners can opt for a more upscale dining experience on the Lightbox’s second floor, in a space decorated with rich woods, leather and stone. Though no menu or chef has been lined up, Snell says they will be using local ingredients in dishes reflecting several international cuisines—though he is quick to say that fusion cuisine is off the table. The 8,000-square-foot lounge, bar and dining room seats about 200 and, thankfully, is not taking the TIFF concept literally (don’t expect to see old movie posters on its walls).

There will also be a sixth-floor event space and terrace for private parties and, of course, TIFF shindigs. Lightbox construction began in 2007; both restaurants are slated to open in summer 2010.