For Steven Mastoras, the closing of Whistler’s Grille and Cafe-Bar at Broadway and Mortimer avenues is more than the end of a job.
Mastoras has worked at the family-owned restaurant since the age of 17.
Now, after 36 years, the East York establishment has announced it will be closing its doors at the end of this year.
“I’m fortunate enough to be a young person still with lots of experience under my belt,” said Mastoras, who has been managing director for more than three decades. “But also a passion for a lot of different things.”
Mastoras has been an involved member of the East York community for his entire adult life. At 22 he was elected as a councillor for the Borough of East York, a position he held for six years. Though his time as a restaurateur may be coming to a close, he has no plans of stepping down from his public life.
“We will continue to live and be a part of our community,” Mastoras said. He plans to continue as a volunteer with organizations like the Toronto East Rotary Club”
Mastoras will also continue his work as a member of the Board of Directors for Restaurants Canada.
On Sept. 9, the Mastoras and Kanopoulos families took to social media to announce the property has been sold and their final business day will be Dec. 31.
Thank you to our amazing customers, staff, partners, friends & family for over 36 incredible years in business. #thebigW pic.twitter.com/SGRSiPoHtL
— Whistler's Grille (@WhistlersTO) September 9, 2017
Little information has been given on what is to come next for the location. The announcement notes the new property owners plan to “redevelop the site over the coming years.”
The hard-to-miss building sits at the corner of Mortimer and Broadview avenues. The grey exterior is adorned with bright red neon signs and art deco inspired paintings that feature lively jazz musicians.
Whistlers live jazz and blues nights have made the restaurant a cherished part of patio life in East York. During a year where the Toronto music scene has witnessed a tragic decline in venue options, the loss of yet another live music outlet strikes a bitter chord.
The release thanks patrons for their years of “loyalty and friendship” as well as stating how “grateful” they are the dedication of their “amazing staff.”
Fans of the establishment responded to the announcement by sharing positive memories of their own time there as well as sending the family their best wishes. Online messages show the restaurant appeared to have fulfilled its mission to serve the community through “family-friendly service.”
Wow! Whistlers is a true East York institution. Your family delivered a first class restaurant experience. Pass on our congrats to mom / dad
— DON BOYLE (@DonBoyle22) September 9, 2017
“We’ve got a lot of touching stories,” Mastoras said. “We’ve been a part of thousands of family celebrations over the years and we’ve taken care of each and every one of them with our heart and soul.”
Though no plans have been made yet, Mastoras said that patrons should expect “something special” the final night, which happens to coincide with New Year’s Eve.