07/28/10 – By GURPREET GHAG
I remember walking past 1285 Bloor Street West as a kid and desperately trying to avoid eye contact with any of the old men or drug pushers who smoked cigarette after cigarette in its doorway. I remember a few fights breaking out on the sidewalk in front of the building and cops telling me to be on my way home. I remember a few glances of old linoleum floors and dirty-looking table tops, all of which contributed to me never stepping a foot inside.
But recently, just a month or so ago, under new management and a new name, I walk past the spot with my eyes off the sidewalk, allowing my nose to be grabbed by the smell of peameal bacon and dragged across the shiny new floors and to a very comfy 60’s diner booth overlooking the eclectic corner of Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue.
As I admire the prints and paintings hung on the wall and drift off while listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rendition of Little Wing, I am brought a menu by one half of the new ownership team. Rose Guarnieri, one of the owners, is quick to let me know that she is in as much love with her new home as I am.
Guarnieri, along with her partner and head Chef, Anthony Menna had been planning to get married when they found that Dale’s restaurant was planning to close shop. Having both been from the area, and also looking for a place to open up their own restaurant, the two took all their wedding savings and secured the then haggard spot.
It was an opportunity she says that they could not give up.
“I remember living here and having to travel all the way to College to get a latte,” she said, also adding that the way the neighborhood was growing also made the decision easier.
And then after almost a year of prep, says Guarnieri, most of which consisted of the couple putting in a new floor, new table-tops, re-upholstering the booths and refurbishing whatever they could salvage, the doors were open to the public, and so far the response has been a great one.
“People are thanking us for moving in,” Guarnieri says and the brunch turnout has also been positive.
“We had thirty people in for our first brunch, and our last one we had seventy-nine.”
The Bloordale Pantry is located at the South-East corner of Bloor and Lansdowne and is open from Tuesday to Sunday serving a daily 5 dollar lunch special and a great dinner selection with nothing over $14.