It seems that one of the most exciting restaurants that opened in Toronto in the last decade, and that put us on the global map, is preparing to close its doors at the end of this year.
The first Canadian location of the hugely successful Momofuku restaurant chain opened in David Chang in Toronto in 2012. And now, exactly ten years later, it looks like it’s going to be shutting down.
noticeably absent from Toronto’s first Michelin guide was released last week, and it’s unlikely that contempt announced the move, but the long lockdowns and hardships caused by the pandemic haven’t made things easy.
Our source, a longtime Toronto employee who asked not to be identified, claims that this appears to have been in the works for some time. It is reported that changes were noticed in the restaurant in early 2022.
“It looked pretty much like a shutdown operation,” the source told blogTO. “Repairs were not happening, contact with the head office was not there [were] Equipment area measurement.
The source claims that a team of unknown people came to the restaurant in May to measure and photograph all three floors occupied by Momofuku at the Shangri-La Hotel. No explanations were given, but the source felt it was just another step on the road to verification.
“We watched these guys come and take measurements, we watched the third floor falter, we watched refrigerators not being fixed. Morale was appalling when I left.”
In an industry where openings and closings are so noteworthy, this news is noteworthy for the fact that process personnel have not yet been informed.
This is likely so that the restaurant can keep staff until the end of the year, which makes sense for the company, and not so much for the employees. The persistent labor shortage in the restaurant industry makes trained staff a valuable resource for any food operation.
The source, who left the operation in May but is still in contact with the remaining crew, explains: “Obviously the problem is that everyone may quit now, because no one will be hired in January.” “Because of low morale, many long-time employees have already left.”
blogTO has reached out to Shangri-La, Westbank and Momofuku for comment.
He was Hans Vogels, Executive Chef at Momofuku Noodle Bar from opening day until last June. He had this to say when reached for comment.
“After ten years working there, I have never received a phone call, nor an email, nor heard anything from the company. I find it strange that there was no thank you. I was not expecting a gold watch, but not even an email?”
Vogels was one of the few employees who worked with the Chang Empire for a decade. He claims that Zhang has largely stepped aside.
“Dave always said he was just the guy in the gorilla suit, but the truth is a lot of people went to work there because of him and his reputation and his desire to work with someone who was working at such a high level. And he’s not there anymore. Dave isn’t home.”
While it’s running, Momofuku has given this town some great talent – without it we wouldn’t have Soy Luck Club’s new Chinese cuisine, Donna’s chic comfort food, not to mention Oji Seichi and Emmer Bakery.
Zhang personally picked Eva Chen from Vancouver and took her here to lead Kojin, the third floor space that hadn’t found a foothold. Chen is now making waves in the East End at Avling Brewery and regularly sells Soy Luck Club pop-ups.
The past two years have lowered morale in the restaurant industry, but record closures in Toronto, which have been longer than any other major North American city, mean local restaurants have been hit hard.
Industry insiders predict that the upcoming holiday season will be the busiest since 2019.
The source said Momofuku will likely stay in space for the holiday season.
“Everyone knows how leases work, they don’t go in single digits. I had the impression we had a ten-year lease and that would be in effect now. I’m sure Momo has an exit date. Maybe they are allowed to do Christmas [the new tenant] Moving in January, do a reno and reopen in the spring. “Additional,” If you have to write a restaurant acquisition, this is the perfect way to do it. “
And who might this new tenant be? Our source spoke to a group of investors last week who confirmed that Mott 32 will take over the space in the new year.
“I haven’t seen any signed documents but they said explicitly that they are going to the Momofuku Space in Shangri-La in January for the early spring opening.”
The fine dining chain outside Hong Kong has six locations, including Vegas, Vancouver and Singapore, and has plans to open in Dubai and Cebu City.
Think high dim sum like Iberico Pork Shanghainese Soup Dumplings, Black Truffle Sui Mai and Hot-and-Sour Xiao Long Bao, or the $100 Peking Duck cooked in a specially designed brick oven that needs to be ordered 48 hours in advance.
The place that helped Torontonians grow their appreciation for fried chicken topped with caviar, gave us our first-ever taste of Shake Shack on home soil, and transformed us into a ramen-headed town.