Smith steps back
New patio turns unused space into something delicious
Pride, sunshine and patios: three things that form the axis of wonderful.
And with the sexy days of summer in full swing, Smith on Church St has created a new outdoor option just in time for the biggest festivity of the season.
The restaurant has just expanded its signature mashup of antique charm and tough modernity right into the property’s back alley.
Vintage wrought-iron gates open up to the new space, which is laid out with the same eclectic mix of antique plates and silverware decorated with sprigs of fresh herbs. Under twinkling strings of lights, diners will be able to order specials from the chef’s outdoor grill during Pride Week and get a buzz on with new summer drink specials.
"I wanted the lighting to be very star-like and magical," says owner Renda Abdo, noting the festive vibe brightens up a space that had previously gone to waste.
Abdo, an industry veteran, has two other restaurants in the city — Wish, which is 13 years old, and 7 West, which has been around for 24. “I say I opened [7 West] when I was eight,” she jokes.
Building the patio took about a week, Abdo says, but the time needed to get city approval and design the perfect space took much longer. She was lucky enough to get the go-ahead from neighbours who surround the space, including the owners of gay novelty shop Out on the Street. “The co-operation . . . really sort of opened that door,” she says.
Ian Kelly is owner of Out of the Street. For him, letting Abdo use the space was a no-brainer. “I’m really happy about it,” he says. Before, Kelly says, the space was an empty lot used to contain garbage. “Now it’s actually being used, and I think it’s really nice.”
Abdo says she saw the community changing, as gays continue to head west and open-minded condo dwellers visit the Village for drinks. She hopes the new space will bring everyone from the area together. “Anyone that feels and appreciates detail . . . that’s who our target is, whether you’re gay or straight,” she says. “As a neighbourhood, we don’t have enough of that.”
Smith’s back patio is open for business at 553 Church St.