Toronto, Ontario is a lovely city where outdoor dining is extremely popular in the summer months. And with so many great restaurants to choose from, it’s certainly possible to eat at a new place for lunch or dinner every day for weeks at a time.
On a Thursday night, King Street West was buzzing as my friend Cathy and I strolled along reading posted menus and getting the lay of the land. A tiny patio table opened up at the Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill and we settled in for a magnificent evening of wine, bruschetta and pasta, and some spectacular people watching. (I saw something I had never seen before. Cathy had to explain it to me.)
Unbeknownst to us, the owner was seated at a table just behind us. As a good restaurant operator does, he soon introduced himself and began telling us the story of his restaurant.
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Where to Eat in Toronto
The building where Al Carbone and his family have worked for 35 years dates to the 1850s. It was first a little mercantile with the family living upstairs and a carriage house out back. Over the years, the store and carriage house were connected, but not before a little tree had taken root between the two buildings.
So, rather than cut down a perfectly good tree, they built the restaurant around it. The tree, an Ailanthus, is commonly called “the tree of heaven.” It protrudes right through the middle of the Kit Kat kitchen. The kitchen staff and wait staff have to work around the tree right in the middle of everything.
Saving A Historic Restaurant in Downtown Toronto
We sat and talked with Al about his concern for aggressive development in his neighborhood. He fears that any day, they will get the order to vacate the premises so that a high-rise condominium may grow here instead.
As we talked, I ran my hands along the solid brick wall, feeling the strength of a structure that has lasted more than a century and a half, reading the friendly graffiti of the generations past. We touched the tree as Al instructed, making a wish that he promised would come true. I wished that condo developers would leave this place alone.
Kit Kat’s is lovely little spot on planet Earth where 30 individuals earn a living and guests from around the world enjoy healthy, homemade sustenance. It’s a neighborhood hang-out, a place for family celebrations and romantic dinners. No one is a stranger here. Al Carbone and his family make sure of that.
I hope is still there when you next visit Toronto.