Scarborough still unsure about Winterlicious

Winterlicious has been a staple event in Toronto since it started in 2003, but even after almost 10 years, its popularity still hasn’t caught on in Scarborough.

Winterlicious is an annual event that celebrates Toronto’s multiculturalism through cuisine. This year Scarborough has only two restaurants entered in Winterlicious. They are the same two that were entered last year.

Vishnu Karan Rasiah, the manager of Vi Pei Bistro restaurants in Scarborough, has never participated in Winterlicious. He believes this is because the event caters to a city atmosphere.

“With the downtown area it’s different,” Rasiah said. “It’s more tourists, entertainment district, more moving around and every day you get a new person come in.”

Entering in Winterlicious requires participants to pay a fee of around $1,000. For Rasiah, it’s about looking at whether investing in Winterlicious is worth it.

“Even if we were in Winterlicious, we’d have to do more advertising to bring in the people from downtown,” Rasiah said.

“We thought about it last year but you have to look at your return before you invest in something,” Rasiah said. “We can always bring in more business, but in our case we have our regulars. They already know us and they come back to us.”

Eirene Papaiannou, support supervisor for Winterlicious, says the event is for all restaurants to get involved in, not just downtown Toronto.

“It has always been intended for the entire city,” Papaiannou said. “Scarborough is Toronto …There are a number of reasons why they don’t participate and they are all very personal to each restaurant.”

Joey Bravo’s is one of the restaurants entered in Winterlicious from Scarborough.

 Tom Markakos, the owner of Joey Bravo's and Stacey Demma the general manager. Joey Bravo's is one of the only two restaurants entered in Winterlicious this year from Scarborough.
Tom Markakos, the owner of Joey Bravo’s and Stacey Demma the general manager. Joey Bravo’s is one of only two restaurants entered in Winterlicious this year from Scarborough. It is they’re sixth year participating and they feel WInterlicious is a great program to be involved in. (Winterlicious)

This is its sixth year participating. The manager, Stacey Demma, says it encourages business in the winter season.

“The way they promote it is it comes after the holidays. It gets the businesses a little bit of action during the time it’s extremely slow,” Demma said.

While Demma is aware of the downtown competition, she does not believe it should stop restaurants in Scarborough from participating and gaining exposure to their businesses.

“It’s more so catered towards the downtown core because of issues of tourism, but why can’t a business in Scarborough try and participate?”

Rasiah says he will think about entering his downtown Vi Pei location next year, instead of his Scarborough one.

Winterlicious runs until Feb. 7 throughout Toronto.