P&M Restaurant: (on) May The Fourth (we’ll) Be With You

Yes, that is a cheap and convoluted reference to Star Wars Day. Let’s move on.

On May 4th at 10:00 a.m., Frank Kalamaris is moving his P&M family restaurant into unknown territory. After investing over a million dollars in a building and equipment just down the street from his old restaurant (the former Central Bar and Grill), Frank and his family are moving from a tiny 22-seat space into a much bigger and grander location at 1946 Weston Road. They spent three years working on the new restaurant while keeping the old place going.

Frank and his wife Niki working last month in the old restaurant.
Frank and his wife Niki at work in the old P&M.

Anyone who dined at the old P&M knew it was special. Clearly, a family was working together to create an informal place where people could meet and feel at home. It was as if you were visiting friends or family. Most days were busy and thanks to the cheery greetings and close quarters, there was no avoiding hearing and becoming involved in conversation with your fellow diners. The place was unique and a genuine Weston Treasure™ for over 40 years.

A passer-by asks Frank when he's opening.
A passer-by asks Frank when he’s opening.

WestonWeb asked Frank if he worries that the new restaurant will lack the same kind of intimacy and friendly atmosphere, especially with more room and an alcohol license. He says he is planning to have the same feeling and ambience but with more room and nicer surroundings. “A member of the family will be there at all times to make sure that things go well and customers feel welcome.”

On mentioning that the old Central Bar and Grill had begun as a family restaurant but in recent years had become a bit of a dive, Frank replied, “Although we’ll have an LCBO licence and we’d like people to have a drink with their meals, it won’t be a place for people to come and drink”, he cautioned. “We won’t serve alcohol to people unless they order food. We don’t want to become a tavern, or a hang-out place. We will make sure that families have priority.”

Son George moves kitchen equipment into place.
Son George moves kitchen equipment into place.

Frank reflects on the success his family achieved in the tiny restaurant. “We did it by getting to know people and what they liked. We have never advertised; our reputation is through word of mouth, yet we served 20,000 burgers last year.” He is fully confident that the tradition will continue in the new P&M Restaurant.

The menu has been updated but many of the old favourites are still available.

Frank and Niki proudly hold the new menu.
Frank and his wife Niki proudly hold the new menu.

For those of you wishing to have an exclusive sneak preview of the menu, (or wish to keep it on hand for take-out orders), here it is. Click on each for a close-up.

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Opening day will be unusual for P&M’s as, after that, it will be closed Mondays (traditionally the quietest day of the week for restaurants). Saturdays will see a 7:00 a.m. start to accommodate Weston Farmers Market patrons.

On May 4th, there will be no fanfare or official opening ceremony (that may come later). Just the Kalamaris family continuing the tradition of serving good food in a friendly atmosphere.

P&M: Ready for the Move.

Frank Kalamaris and his family run a well known and very successful restaurant right in the heart of Weston. P&M has been serving Westonians since Frank’s father George opened for business on April 15, 1975.

Every day is busy but empty seats are especially hard to find during the lunch rush with only 24 chairs crammed into the tiny dining room.

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Up to four people jockey for position behind the 18 foot kitchen / serving area. Instructions are passed back and forth in English with the occasional few words of Greek mixed in. From this tiny work area, customers are served generous portions of delicious food. Wider at the front, narrowing to barely 7 feet wide at the back where the dishes are washed, the atmosphere is one of respectful friendship and regular customers are known by name.

Frank recalls arriving in Weston when it was at the height of its popularity with people flocking to its shopping district from miles around. ‘In 1975 There was a Canadian Tire across the street, a Kresge’s department store, a Loblaws supermarket, jewellers, shoe stores, gentleman’s and ladies’ clothing stores.’

Nowadays Weston is a lot different but Frank is so sure that things are turning around, he has invested $1.2M in a new location just a few yards south at 1946 Weston Road. Until recently, this was the home of the Central Bar and Grill which had in its latter years fallen into disrepair and had a dubious clientele. Frank has done a total inside and out renovation of the building and it is now unrecognizable.

The key to Frank’s success is quite simple, ‘You have to respect the customer’ he says in his trademarked gravelly voice. ‘They don’t want to be a number, like in the franchised restaurants, they want recognition and respect and to do that we treat them like friends and family’ To Frank, it’s not about the money. ‘Lots of business people come to Weston to take money out; they invest nothing and end up lowering the quality and driving away business. Success means doing what you have to do to get customers to return regularly’, and in that Frank has succeeded wildly. With plans to continue serving top quality food cooked to order; (things like fresh cut French fries, Black Angus triple A beef), he’s now planning to make the numbers of his extended family of customers bigger; a lot bigger. With the extra room and a gigantic open-concept kitchen he can seat more friends and serve a bigger variety of dishes.

Frank plans to supplement the regular fare with more international dishes and weekly specials. For those with a sweet tooth, there will be a dessert station with a full dessert menu. The new restaurant will be licensed (currently under application); a service bar will be there for staff.

Frank gave WestonWeb an exclusive preview of the renovated premises and even in an unfinished state, the new P&M’s is very impressive. Attention to detail and top of the line decor, furnishings and equipment will set this restaurant apart in Weston.

Frank stands behind the new bar.
Frank stands behind his new bar.
The left-half of the restaurant.
The left-half of the restaurant with the dessert station at the back.
Butcher block tables and ceramic decor.
Butcher block tables and ceramic decor.
The dessert station.
The dessert station.
Top of the line equipment in the new kitchen.
Top of the line equipment is being installed in the new kitchen.
Food preparation and storage area in the basement.
A huge food preparation and storage area is being set up in the basement.
The new premises under wraps.
The new premises at 1946 Weston Road still under wraps.

Frank doesn’t  know exactly when the new P&M Restaurant will open as there are a few finishing touches to be made and inspections to be completed. The Fire Department will need to calculate his seating capacity, but no doubt when the date is announced, many will flock to the new location. ‘I may need to have several opening days’, joked Frank, ‘But I would like to have Councillor Nunziata there; she has been very helpful in dealing with the City’.