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If it feels as though each new week brings with it news of more restaurants shuttering, that's because it's devastatingly true. The most recent victim of COVID-19 restaurant closures and the inevitable loss of clientele and revenue that they've caused? Canis Restaurant, a Queen Street darling for the past four years, announced yesterday in an Instagram post that it will not reopen once the province enters Stage 3.
Opened by chef Jeff Kang and business partner Adam Ashukian in 2016, Canis brought refined, seasonal Canadian dining to a relatively-nondescript section of Queen West. Artistic and thoughtful, it didn't take long for chef Kang's plates to catch the Toronto diners' attention. Early on, the restaurant earned accolades, including spots on En Route magazine's list of Canada's Best New Restaurants and, since 2017, a spot on Canada's 100 Best Restaurants. It was also named one of Toronto Life magazine's Best New Restaurants in 2017.
Canis closed its doors in March, as officials declared a state of emergency in Ontario due to COVID-19. In late May, the Canis space became home to Danny Barna's Larb Shack, a pop-up shop serving various kinds of larb, papaya salad, mojitos and more. Unlike other local restaurants that pivoted to takeout or delivery, though, Canis Restaurant did not reopen.
"It's time to say goodbye," wrote the team in an Instagram post on July 27th. "We have decided not to extend our lease and will not be opening our doors at Canis." The post goes on to say that, "[i] t's really sad to say that we won't be opening back but hopefully we will be back someday."
At the end of April, the Canis team debuted a Korean fried chicken pop-up named Kang Bang Furaidochikin at Après Wine Bar, Canis' sister restaurant. Après is now open, serving succulent fried chicken, kimchi and a fantastic selection of rare wines on their patio and through Uber Eats.
Helmed by the same team, you can bet the quality is there. Yet, even the best fried chicken can't stop us from hoping that chef Kang's creative, hyper-seasonal, Canis-style cuisine will grace Toronto tables again, someday soon.