By Martin Owusu
Toronto’s Junction Triangle received a new addition last week, with the opening of the Drake Commissary at 128 Sterling Road. The 8,000 sq. ft. bakery, bar and larder forms a cornerstone of Toronto’s Drake Hotel properties and produces original food items for the Drake’s primary retail extension, Drake General Store.
The location is the fifth location in a suite of Drake properties which include The Drake Hotel, Drake One Fifty (restaurant), Drake Devonshire (hotel in Prince Edward County) and Drake General Store (now with six locations) .
The Drake General Store, which opened its 3-storey flagship last summer at 1151 Queen Street West, sells a number of signature food items in addition to traditional gift shop retail offerings and signature maple syrups, sourced from the freshly minted, Drake Commissary.
In addition to serving the needs of the Drake Commissary and Drake General Store, the Drake Commissary’s kitchen functions as the culinary production hub and main supplier for all the Drake properties’ made-from-scratch menu items. This makes it a critical piece of the Drake enterprise.
The Drake Commissary itself is an uncommon combination of large-scale food production, food-retail and restaurant, smoothly held together by The Drake’s consistently curated themes of artistry, antiquity and authenticity.
Signature retail items like maple syrup, duck liver pate and cured salmon are made from scratch on location, and are integrated throughout the restaurant and bar space.
In addition to pre-made selections from the kitchen commissary, a 140-person seated dining area allows guests to sit-in and enjoy fast-casual menu items from the kitchen and coffee/cocktail bar. Guests can also order menu items from the Drake Commissary’s 40-seat patio.
While the restaurant, bar and dining area may take up most of the Drake Commissary’s 8,000 square feet, the commissary kitchen is the location’s intended centrepiece.
“The restaurant is a way to showcase what we’re doing in terms of [food] production. Without the restaurant, we wouldn’t have the draw,” said Ted Corrado, Corporate Executive Chef of Drake Hotel Properties. “But the heart of it is the food program we do,” he added.
Guests can peer into the Drake’s food preparation process from the restaurant through large glass windows.
“Traditionally the commissary kitchen is a space where you do all your production, and historically, it’s not guest facing. We took a different approach in that we want people to see what we’re doing. It’s all out on display,” said Corrado.
The area surrounding the Drake Commissary’s Junction Triangle location is industrial and notably underdeveloped. Directly to the south and northeast sits a Nestle factory. To the east is a small paper production plant, and to the south, an abandoned munitions factory.
The Drake Commissary, however, is leading the area’s redevelopment. A coffee shop is slated for construction across Sterling Road, and the former munitions factory is being redeveloped into mixed use condos and an artist’s space.
The southern tip’s expansion follows a trend of changing demographics in the larger Junction Triangle neighbourhood, as the neighbourhood’s rapid condo development and GO Train proximity continue to attract young urban professionals -- as well as new retail to serve them.
Originally from British Columbia, Martin Owusu is currently studying towards a JD/MBA at Dalhousie University. He has a keen interest in the combined potential for sport and business to build community.