Claire Livia of Livia Sweets and her partner, Jordan Pires, have taken possession of the old All Basha space at 1399 Commercial Drive. Their plan is to open a new restaurant and bakery called ‘Livia’ in its place at some point this winter.
The address – located on the northwest corner of The Drive and Kitchener St. – had already been pretty well gutted when Claire and Jordan showed me around yesterday afternoon. Save for an Coke fridge and multi-coloured paint job, little remains of the Middle Eastern restaurant and the little bakery (Elizabeth’s) that it once shared the address with. It’s as hard to remember the appearance of the no frills, quick-service shawarma joint as it is to imagine how a finished Livia might look.
When it’s done the 1,400 sqft space will have 40 seats inside and another dozen on the covered sidewalk patio. It sounds like they’re aiming to operate as a bakery/cafe in the daytime and then transforming into a relaxed, eastern Mediterranean bistro/trattoria in the evenings. That means they’ll be looking to convert the daytime take-out counter into a bar at night, which is to say a liquor license is definitely in the works.
They’ll have an espresso program, naturally, but I’m most excited about the food. Livia is a fantastic baker — a known entity in industry circles (full disclosure: we were proud to have her as a Scout contributor several years ago). She makes dreamy brioche, baguettes, challah, focaccia, cookies, cinnamon buns, cakes and macarons. She also supplies restaurants. (If you’ve ever had a burger or a chicken sandwich at Downlow, then you’re familiar with her awesomeness.) If you were unable to sample her baking at this past summer’s farmers markets, you can find her at the West End market tomorrow (Oct. 20) — it’s her last market of the season.
To develop the bistro/trattoria menu, Claire and Jordan have hired chef Deniz Tarakcioglu, who you might recognize from his many years of service in the kitchen at Cafe Medina. I haven’t asked for much in the way of detail on the food front yet. As you can see from the images below, it’s early days yet. I’ll check back in when the project and the menus start taking tangible shape. In the meantime, it’s OK to be excited!