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Random Ontario retail nostalgia

Additional retail nostalgia:

Places I miss:

1) Mother's Pizza, really good pizza, root beer in proper frosted mugs, and giant cookies. Tried the comeback version in Stoney Creek a couple of years ago and thought they mostly got it right, save and except for the 'house' music on the speakers and the missing silent films screening on the walls. Too bad it didn't stick.

2) Olive Garden. Lets be frank, the pasta and sauce was second-rate at best; and the decor a tad kitsch. But the soup, salad and bread special for lunch was a fabulous deal. The Pasta Fagiole was actually a decent soup; and the salad, while cheap was great with crunch, and dressing with bite and pepperoncino peppers (pickled) giving you great lipsmack! All with unlimited warm garlic sticks. Also the first Resto to serve me a glass of wine, when I was 14 and strolled in on a Sunday afternoon, by myself, Globe and Mail under my arm, having just come from a movie purchased with my allowance, LOL I remember being surprised when I was offered a wine list........ and then happily having a glass of Lambrusco with my meal.

3) Spring Rolls: really more recent, but until those last couple of years was really quite good value-for-money and honestly had one of the best Singapore Noodles I've ever tasted, and it helped they would make it extra hot to order for me!

4) Lichtman's books. Several locations, but the one I most often frequented was in Atrium on Bay. A place I developed my love of foreign newspapers in........I would wander in and look at papers from Chicago, New York, L.A, Montreal, London, Paris, etc. and which ever one had the most interesting stuff I wallked out with (paid for) LOL.

5) Grand and Toy. Nothing fancy about the smaller version of Staples that was a staple of every mall. But it had an awesome selection of pens, most of which you can could buy just one of, and open pads of paper you could test them on to see how they wrote. Loved that.

6) Marks and Sparks - Mostly didn't like'em, not a huge fan of most of what they carried here......but in my teens, developed a taste for their Spring Onion Crisps (potato chips). I don't recall ever seeing any other chips that went straight for an onion flavour w/o sour cream or something else.

7) PRO Hardware - think Canadian Tire, but you could fit in 5% of the space, and actually had staff who knew what you needed and could find it in 30s or less.

Spring Rolls is an interesting mention. Something that is still fairly recent, but has become an increasingly distant concept. Especially with rising food costs accelerated in the last few years.

When it first opened up it was a pretty popular spot. Good for families and large groups, and was budget friendly for the most part. When I worked at Bay & Dundas, I had a colleague who'd often order from their takeout window inside the Atrium.

Although its time in the sun gradually faded with other options popping up, especially the Sukhothai, Pai, Khao San Roads of the world. Along with Salad King just around the corner which seemed to gain increasing popularity.
 
Spring Rolls is an interesting mention. Something that is still fairly recent, but has become an increasingly distant concept. Especially with rising food costs accelerated in the last few years.

When it first opened up it was a pretty popular spot. Good for families and large groups, and was budget friendly for the most part. When I worked at Bay & Dundas, I had a colleague who'd often order from their takeout window inside the Atrium.

Although its time in the sun gradually faded with other options popping up, especially the Sukhothai, Pai, Khao San Roads of the world. Along with Salad King just around the corner which seemed to gain increasing popularity.

I don't know, but assume there was an ownership change, as the quality absolutely tanked in the last couple of years, the locations folded after the quality tanked, not before; at least in the core.

I'm not sure how well they ever did w/the more far-flung locations.
 
I don't know, but assume there was an ownership change, as the quality absolutely tanked in the last couple of years, the locations folded after the quality tanked, not before; at least in the core.

I'm not sure how well they ever did w/the more far-flung locations.

Oh yeah, the drop in quality through possible ownership change does cross my mind too as something that may have occurred. Also the eventual drop in customer interest of being used to the chain/restaurant for so long without offering anything fresh or new, that they became a has-been in the food scene.
 
I don't know if this rightly fits as nostalgia, by Robinson's in Dorset has closed. For those who are unaware, it is (was) the 'everything store' in a village of about 500 (so they say - I think that's a tad optimistic) and had been in the Robinson family for about 100 years until 2021. My wife's family used to have a cottage near there and you learned to not go on Saturday or any rainy day; it would be packed. I'm guessing it will re-open in some form. It's a hike to Huntsville or Minden.

 
They still have Olive Garden in Edmonton and BC! Wish it was back in Ontario :(
They closed because they weren't profitable in Toronto. It was edible. I did go to their Atrium restaurant several times, but I disliked their ice-cold salads. Even then we had a lot of really good Italian restaurants with similar or lower prices. I remember Toronto Life calling them "the pinnacle of inauthentic Italian cuisine".
 
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They closed because they weren't profitable in Toronto

I don't doubt this bit, but I've always wondered, just from a business perspective, how that was possible. They were busy. Certainly their Atrium location, but most others that I recall involved a wait for a table on a weekend evening or sometime even mid-day lunch.

I wonder what financial choices they were making here that they lost money on a full house. I would assume they had higher rent and labour expenses than they were used to in the U.S. but tried to hold their prices down.

But if you have a line-up out the door, you probably have some wiggle room on pricing; and it seems odd to me they didn't take advantage of it.
 
I don't doubt this bit, but I've always wondered, just from a business perspective, how that was possible. They were busy. Certainly their Atrium location, but most others that I recall involved a wait for a table on a weekend evening or sometime even mid-day lunch.

I wonder what financial choices they were making here that they lost money on a full house. I would assume they had higher rent and labour expenses than they were used to in the U.S. but tried to hold their prices down.

But if you have a line-up out the door, you probably have some wiggle room on pricing; and it seems odd to me they didn't take advantage of it.
You have to remember that most chain restaurants now are owned by by equity groups that neither know, nor care, about running a food service industry (Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants out of Florida). Even with what appears to be a healthy business, their only focus is bottom line, and if the higher food, labour, etc. costs in Canada are interfering with that, they walk. It seems there are still a handful in Canada. My brother used be fairly high up in the industry and finally got sick of it.
 
This pic brings back memories. Also the Richtree Marche just to the left of where the pic cuts off

"Smoke free as of January 12, 1996"

This came up in a conversation I had with someone recently who is about ten years younger than I am and so never lived in a time of smoking, and it was difficult for me to explain how common it was in the 1980's when I was a kid. Like half of the adults I knew were smokers, and about half of those would smoke a pack every day or two. It's amazing how rapidly that changed.
 
"Smoke free as of January 12, 1996"

This came up in a conversation I had with someone recently who is about ten years younger than I am and so never lived in a time of smoking, and it was difficult for me to explain how common it was in the 1980's when I was a kid. Like half of the adults I knew were smokers, and about half of those would smoke a pack every day or two. It's amazing how rapidly that changed.

I was a kid in the 90s but have some memories of when smoking sections inside restaurants and other spaces was still a reality before the regulations were in place. Going to Vegas and seeing smoking allowed inside casinos was definitely a throwback to how things used to be here.
 
This pic brings back memories. Also the Richtree Marche just to the left of where the pic cuts off

I used to love popping into that Marche for some Nasi Goreng. I appreciated that they provided a higher quality alternative to the fast food stalls. Kind of ahead of their time in way, with the whole market concept - with that being all the rage these days, it makes you think they'd do quite well if they were still around. I really miss their epic spot at Yonge and Wellington. Nothing has filled that huge space since they sadly went under...
 

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