One of Toronto’s most respected and well-known names in high-end food is opening a grocery store in the city’s most high-end shopping district.
Chef Mark McEwan—the influential restaurateur behind North 44, One Restaurant and Bymark—will be opening an 18,000-sq.-ft. McEwan fine food grocery store at the corner of Yonge and Bloor in the new One Bloor East condo and retail tower. Construction on the store will begin early 2018 and is scheduled to be complete later that year.
It will be McEwan’s third retail grocery location in Toronto after first opening a 22,000-sq.-ft. store in outdoor mall Shops at Don Mills in 2009, followed by a 6,000-sq.-ft. site in the PATH system under TD Centre in the heart of the city’s financial district in 2015.
Planning for the new store is still in the early stages, but it will cater to the needs of the neighbourhood, while operating on the same foundational premise of high-quality, ready-made foods and recipes curated by Mark McEwan’s own tastes, Jessica Rodrigues, director of communications for The McEwan Group told Canadian Grocer.
“People in the downtown core are changing the way they eat and Mark wants to make it really easy for them to get nice, fresh food daily whether its eating in the store’s café or bringing home quality ingredients into their own kitchens,” she said.
“Each one of our locations has a full serve kitchen and a head chef for that location so everything is cooked daily and everything is really fresh.”
In a 2012 interview with Canadian Grocer, McEwan explained how he was trying to meet the needs of modern food shoppers with his store in Don Mills.
“Everybody is moving toward a quality food story, an ingredient-driven story,” he said. “Customers want that story both from my restaurants and the store–is the beef hormone free, is it free range, is it antibiotic free?”
He also explained how his grocery model was inspired by shopping behaviours in New York City and European markets.
“When I go to New York, I watch people hop into stores and how they live in that urban environment,” he said. “They go in and buy food for a day-and-a-half; it’s very much that European concept, rather than filling up the grocery cart. Most of my clients are shopping for singles or couples; they’re buying food for two days, consuming and going back out and buying again. That is the offer we’re looking to fill.”
The new location will be on top of one of the busiest subway stations in Toronto, on the edge of two neighbourhoods associated with upper-income living: Rosedale and Yorkville. Aside from being in One Bloor East, which according to Retail Insider will house 789 condominium units, the new store will be directly across the street from an even larger tower in the early stages of construction. The stretch of Bloor Street has been dubbed the Mink Mile for its luxury retail brands. According to Cushman Wakefield, retail rents in the neighbourhood can reach US$250 per square foot, the most expensive in the country.
However, McEwan will be moving into a location which already has a Longo's Market store just across Bloor Street, a Whole Foods a short walk away and Eataly will open its first Canadian store (50,000-sq.-ft.) in the Manulife Centre just 200 metres to the west in 2019. Rodrigues said there is an appetite for all of the fine food players, but added that McEwan offers something unique compared to those other offerings.
“McEwan Find Foods is a different concept,” she said. It is McEwan’s recipes, often refined and perfected in his restaurants and prepared by chefs who have trained under him. “It is a chef-led grocery store. It is Mark opening up his pantry.”