Five things that need to change in Weston / Mount Dennis. Part 2.

As we approach the year end, here are some things that seem to be holding us back locally. This is the second a five part series, which began yesterday.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Customers line up at the opening of P&M Restaurant’s new location in May 2015 (file).

2. The Retail Experience in Weston Mount Dennis

Believe it or not but Canadians only buy 5% of their non-grocery goods online. The rest is done in brick and mortar stores. Unfortunately, businesses in Weston and Mount Dennis are under-patronized as it often seems easier to jump in the car.

Retail in WMD is a bit like the old weather adage. Everyone complains about our shopping but nobody does anything about it. People use all kinds of excuses for not shopping locally but the bottom line is that if people want vibrant local shopping, they have to encourage local stores that go some way to meeting their needs. Weston and Mount Dennis will not be confused with Bloor West Village anytime soon but there are glimmers of hope that need to be encouraged. There is a symbiotic relationship between patronage, meeting the needs of customers and a vibrant shopping area.

If people don’t like the appearance of the streets or feel threatened, (More on that tomorrow : Part 3 – The Public Domain) they need to talk to the relevant parties such as 311 or Councillor Nunziata’s office. Statistically, we should understand that we put ourselves in the greatest danger when we drive our cars or cross the road.

Landlords: our empty stores need to be occupied. The tax rebate for empty stores will be ending by June 2018. This is a good thing that will provide an incentive to quickly re-let a storefront. Empty stores detract from the ambience of a shopping area and landlords with empty stores should allow non-profit groups to use the empty stores until paying tenants are found. Weston BIA and Mount Dennis BIA should get the ball rolling on this. If landlords are still happy to allow stores to sit empty, the city should go one further and tax vacant stores at a higher rate.

When Greenland Farm supermarket closes, many Weston residents will lose their only walkable source of produce. Is there another store waiting in the wings? The owner / developer of the GF site can promise that a major supermarket chain will be moving into the podium of the new development when it finally materializes on the site. It will be a meaningless and empty promise as the podium space will be leased to whoever is willing to pay. Councillor Nunziata should do all she can to encourage a seller of produce along the lines of the Royal York Fruit Market in the Royal York Plaza.

Banks are disappearing. We need walkable storefront bank branches.

Readers, what businesses would you like to see in your local shopping area? What stops you from shopping in WMD? Which stores have you patronized?

Ginger Pho—you should go

The family and I finally had a chance to get to Ginger Pho, on Weston Road across from the Super Store, which opened about three weeks ago. (We’ve been travelling a lot, and boy are we glad to be back!)

In short—it’s great! You should go. We stuffed ourselves for $42, before the tip, including pop and appetizers. And it was good. We had leftovers and left-behinds, too.

The highlight, for me, was my wife’s vegetarian vermicelli with fried tofu and a spring roll on top. I loved it. The tofu was perfect (neither wet nor greasy, and marinated in something good), and the spring roll was great. The veggies were fresh and crispy, and the whole thing was a balance of healthy and sinful—and a steal at about $8. There are other vegetarian options, too, including a veggie pho, made without a meat broth.

We started with cold rolls ($5) which in the future, I’d skip in favour of the superb fried rolls. The kids’ chicken phos ($6 or so) came with some, for which they handily defeated me in chop-stick battle. What little I could prise from them was really great—not at all like your typical mass-produced rolls cooked from frozen; these had shredded chicken and a crunchy, blistered skin. Superb.

I had beef pho ($9), the server’s recommendation. The slightly-sweet, cardamom and cinnamonny broth was the same as the kids’, but I got bean sprouts, which would have been wasted on the little ones. The beef slices were nice, and the basil was pretty: flowering and purple. A little lime and a single chili added some colour. I got the large, which was a mistake. Even I couldn’t finish it.

The restaurant is lovely, and modestly busy. The service is great (though they did bring my wife’s meal a minutes before the rest of ours), and the menu is extensive and interesting, with lots of room for regulars to explore. There is draft lager and a few more adventurous options, including a cider and a Belgian.

 

Readers, who do you patronize?

Weston / Mount Dennis are communities that are on the upswing after going through some rough times in the past couple of decades. New businesses like Supercoffee and Perfect Blend have opened up while a few of the old ones like Wards and P&Ms have survived and are thriving. We’re wondering if you, dear readers, know of a local business that is worthy of a mention. It could be a store, restaurant or a service but one that makes you glad you live here.

Please mention that local business you patronize in the comments section. If we haven’t already, we’ll try and write a feature story on them.

 

Today in Weston – March 23, 2017

The menu at Zeal Burger offers a wide selection for burger lovers. Click for larger image.

Today I tried Zeal Burgers on a whim as I was passing. I won’t attempt to duplicate the excellent review our Lieselotte Noort wrote on this local restaurant last fall but I have to say owner Mark Ghopros makes one of the best cheeseburger and fries I have tasted in a long time. His walk-in special of cheeseburger fries and a drink is $10.00 all in.

Mark tells me that he’s planning an update of the menu soon to include some exciting new items.

Zeal Burgers: 1926 Weston Road. Phone: (647) 352-3933

Eggsmart

We’re spoiled for choice in Weston when it comes to restaurants.

Well, breakfast restaurants at least.

We now have at least three places that serve a cracking breakfast: P&M’s, the Sunset Grill (which, as my daughter pointed out, should be called the Sunrise Grill) and, now, Eggsmart.

The family and I had a good breakfast there in December. I think it’s pretty hard to knock one out of the park when it comes to eggs and bacon, but we had a good, solid, affordable hangover cure. treatment. distraction.

The eggs were perfectly cooked, as was the bacon. The coffee was hot and served frequently—just about the only thing I actually care about, and so often the death of an otherwise good restaurant. (I’ve oft been tempted to order two cups of coffee so that I could always have one on the go). The service was good, too, and put up admirably with four kids. That’s more than I could say for me.

My friend ordered a “Scramble”. In my weakened condition, I found myself drawing away from that reminder of the night before, but perhaps with a stronger constitution, I would have relished it. My companion said it was quite good.

The bill was reasonable. To be honest, I don’t recall it—perhaps due to the spikes stuck behind my eyes.

Eggsmart,2097 Weston Road, is open from 7 until the mid afternoon.