Toronto Star

Hip bar-restaurant surprises, delights customers

Neighbourh­ood eatery with a downtown feel, Local 1794 brings the uptown home


For months, the Danforth East community has been buzzing about the opening of Local 1794, a bar/restaurant on the site of the old Colombo’s Pizza on Danforth Ave. east of Coxwell Ave.

Finally, the paper came off the windows on Dec. 15, but the place is perhaps not quite what the neighbour- hood had expected.

There’s no union affiliatio­n — the word local indicates it’s a local watering hole. Meanwhile, it hardly looks like your average neighbourh­ood bar. Decked out in warm walnut and maple, the place looks slick yet cosy.

“People keep coming in and saying, ‘This looks like it should be downtown,’ ” says Harry Tsoukalas, who co-owns the restaurant with his father, John.

The look is in keeping with Tsoukalas’s ideas about our changing city. “People want to stay local,” he says. They want to cultivate neighbour- hoods where the food, shopping and street life are just as good as on busy downtown strips — but they’re just blocks away and kids are welcome too.

The Tsoukalas family previously owned Taps & Tales a few blocks west on the Danforth, and closed it about three years ago. Ever since, they’ve been plotting and planning this new venture.

Convinced that the stretch east of Coxwell has nothing but potential, they found this location and started renovation­s last spring. That included redoing the plumbing, adding a massive addition off the back and building a wood-burning pizza oven from scratch.

They also installed a smoker in the basement.

The family did as much of the work themselves as they could, including mother Fofi doing most of the design. (It’s such a family affair that cousin Tom Andreopoul­os acts as manager.)

So far, it seems the upmarket pub approach is working. The Local 1794 has been packed since opening, with neighbours appreciati­ng the 25 microbeers on tap and the stellar wine list. The menu includes pubtrendy items such as fish tacos, poutine and pulled pork sandwiches.

But there’s also surf and turf, smoked chicken wings and a pizza with bison sausage. Maybe not what the neighbourh­ood expected, but clearly no one is complainin­g. Closing: Chez Laurent on Yonge St. north of Sheppard Ave. has closed after 27 years, as owner Louise Ferrari has retired and the chef, her daughter Leanne Rabinowitz, is planning to spend more time with family and focus on her cooking school Malplehern.

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