RIP: Famous Toronto Restaurants that are no More

Gone Grille

Whether gourmet nibbles and champagne is your thing, or the less refined greasy spoon diner, everybody’s got a favourite restaurant. But what happens when the owners choose (or are forced) to pack it in and move on? Here is a list of some of the more memorable eateries—including a few with bona fide legendary status—that have gone to that great big kitchen in the sky.


Before closing its doors for good in 2014, this far-from-fancy fish and chips emporium operated for 64 years out of its lone Mount Pleasant location. A no-fuss family affair, what Penrose lacked in pizzazz and scenery, it more than made up for in pieces of finely fileted cod and vinegar-doused taters.


Yorkville’s landmark patio and bar served the upscale downtown contingent, and hosted celebrity-dotted TIFF parties, for ages before closing its doors for renovations a few years back. Despite multiple promises of an interior overhaul and grand re-opening, there has been no activity on the restaurant’s social media pages since November 2013, and no answer at the listed telephone number. Will a return to stage ever take place? As for now, we’ve only got our memories.

The Organ Grinder


(Photo via Retro Ontario)

A truly one-of-a-kind dining experience, Toronto’s iconic Organ Grinder, once a prominent feature on the Esplanade, featured bright lights, loud music, and, as Uncle Moe Szyslak would say, ‘a whole lotta crazy crap on the walls.’ Opened in 1975, The OG was the destination for reasonably priced eats and family-friendly fun—not to mention the must-have venue for any child’s birthday party. Closed in 1996, much of the décor and nostalgic vibes are still retained in the form of its successor, the current Old Spaghetti Factory.


For a solid decade, this ultra-cool Queen West deli-by-day, lounge-by-night establishment boasted some of the best craft beers and perogies in the city. Plagued by legal troubles in the last few months of operation, a bailiff’s notice advertising a terminated tenancy finally went up in October 2015, all but confirming the sad rumours.

Captain John’s Harbour Boat Restaurant


(Photo by SimonP via Wikimedia Commons)

Toronto’s first floating restaurant, Captain John’s (that old Adriatic passenger ship permanently docked at the foot of Yonge Street) opened for business in 1975, after serving a lifetime at sea. Operating as an A+ seafood joint, hotel, and tourist attraction until just this year, the iconic sight (though some considered it an eyesore) was forced to close after years of speculation (and unpaid back taxes). With its recent removal from the cherished spot, a historic site is all but erased from the otherwise uninspiring waterfront landscape.


A swanky cocktail bar and bistro, offering skillfully crafted libations and scrumptious victuals, Geraldine managed a brief, but memorable run in the Queen West neighbourhood before closing its doors earlier this year. Mustached absinthe drinkers and oyster enthusiasts have reluctantly moved on.