Scarborough left out in the cold for Winterlicious

Toronto is serving the city its 10th annual edition of Winterlicious, the largest since its inauguration, but no new restaurants have been added to the menu in Scarborough.

The two participating restaurants east of Victoria Park Avenue are Joey Bravo’s Ristorante, located at 4505 Sheppard Ave. E., which is participating in its fourth consecutive year, and Sagano Restaurant at the Delta Toronto East, at 2035 Kennedy Rd., which is a first-time participant at Winterlicious, but a returner from Summerlicious.

At the official launch of Winterlicious at the Park Hyatt Hotel Thursday, the chair of the economic development fund and councillor for Ward 37 (Scarborough Centre) Michael Thompson told the audience he expected this year’s edition to be “bigger and better than ever before.”

A total of 175 restaurants will host Winterlicious this year, an increase from last year’s figure of 150. It will offer three-course prix-fixe meals ranging from $15 to $25 for lunch menus and $25 to $45 for dinner menus. The program goes from Jan. 27 until Feb. 9.

“It’s a voluntary process … to get involved but the purpose of getting involved is it increases [business’s’] bottom line,” Coun. Thompson said. “We make it available to everyone and continue to promote it but some people choose not to involve themselves because there are some fees that are paid.”

A fee of $1,150 must be paid per session for all participating restaurants.

The program has served 3.2 million meals and generated $140 million since its inception, but Donna Terzis, bar manager at Joey Bravo’s Ristorante, said the lack of participating restaurants in Scarborough may be a result of the lack of high-end food that is typically offered only in the downtown core.

“If the city gave information out better, maybe businesses might go up too.”

– Mitsuko Yamada

“I guess you’ve got to be pretty good,” she said.

Mitsuko Yamada, restaurant manager at Sagano Restaurant said while many restaurant owners know about the program, she was surprised to find how many people she talked to were unaware of the specifics and called the restaurant directly for information.

“Many people don’t know the actual dates for it,” said Yamada, citing the Internet as the main medium of promotion available.

Yamada said Sagano Restaurant’s deals officially begin on Jan 28.

“If the city gave information out better, maybe businesses might go up too,” she said.

Ever since the participation pool was opened to more restaurants in the GTA in 2009, Eirene Papaioannou, the city’s event support and partnership supervisor, said that many restaurants have been informed “every session,” but said that ultimately, restaurant participation is “purely voluntary.”

“If there are more restaurants in Scarborough that want to participate, they have the same opportunity as every other restaurant in the city,” Papaioannou said.

She added that reminder emails had been sent out but said, “It’s just that sometimes it may not be for that particular restaurant.”

Coun. Thompson said he was confident that restaurant participation in Scarborough will increase in the coming years.

“We want to see more restaurants from Scarborough, of course, because there are good restaurants in Scarborough,” he said.