Wexford Restaurant closing after 63 years of service

Published On June 2, 2020 | By ngonputh | COVID-19, Features, Food, Life, News
The Wexford Restaurant in Scarborough Courtesy George Kiriakou
The Wexford Restaurant in Scarborough. The famous eatery is closing its doors after more than six decades of serving food. (Courtesy George Kiriakou)
Neil Gonputh

The Wexford Restaurant in Scarborough announced Saturday morning it will be closing its doors after 63 years of feeding the community.

Jerry Kiriakou, the founder of the restaurant located at the corner of Warden and Lawrence Avenues, came to Canada in the early ’50s from Vevi, Greece, said his grandson and current owner George Kiriakou.

Dear Loyal Patrons and Friends,It is with heavy hearts that after 63 years of serving the Wexford community, the…

Posted by Wexford Restaurant on Saturday, May 30, 2020

“He [Jerry] opened it [Wexford] up in ’58 and has the whole family working there,” he said.

Family and community have always been at the heart of what the Wexford Restaurant is about, Kiriakou said. People would eat their meals and engage in conversation with complete strangers, he said.

Hockey photos at the Wexford Restaurant Courtesy George Kiriakou
Hockey photos at the Wexford Restaurant. (Courtesy George Kiriakou)

“It’s the community. It’s a gathering place. People enjoyed themselves,” he said.

That may be why so many people from various occupations ate at the Wexford Restaurant.

“We’ve had prime ministers, all different politicians, we’ve had sportspeople, we’ve had the Stanley Cup, we’ve had lots [of people],” Kiriakou said.

Former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Stephen Harper, former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother and current Ontario Premier Doug, Toronto Mayor John Tory, and hockey players Rick Tocchet, and Peter Zezel are just a few of the many guests who have dined at the Wexford.

But thoughts of closing had been on the family’s mind for some time.

“At 60 [years] we had another huge celebration. At that point we’re thinking it’s getting closer,” Kiriakou said. He’s part of the third generation of family operating the restaurant and maybe it’s time to consider retirement.

PM Stephen Harper with George Kiriakou, Tommy Kiriakou and Peggy Popalis at the Wexford Restaurant Courtesy George Kiriakou
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper with George Kiriakou, Tommy Kiriakou and Peggy Popalis at the Wexford Restaurant. (Courtesy George Kiriakou)

Kiriakou also discussed how labour intensive their business was.

“We were open every single day, except for Christmas and New Years…we were open from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.,” he said.

After 63 years, the long work hours and the passing of his uncle a few years ago had Kiriakou questioning how long he wanted to keep the business going.

COVID-19 also played a factor.

Premier Doug Ford and George Kiriakou at the Wexford Restaurant Courtesy George Kiriakou
Premier Doug Ford and George Kiriakou at the Wexford Restaurant. (Courtesy George Kiriakou)

The pandemic has affected everyone’s business, Kiriakou said, noting other restaurant closures like Vesuvio Pizzeria and Spaghetti House in the Junction and Pappas Grill in Greektown.

In the case of the Wexford, the timing of COVID-19 may have pushed them to a decision they were already leaning towards, he said.

Kiriakou said the closure shouldn’t be framed by COVID-19, but rather remembering why it was so successful and lasted so long in the first place.

The difference with the Wexford Restaurant and other chain eateries like Tim Hortons or McDonalds was the people and the feeling of community, he said.

“Everyday, people would show up with a smile and talk, ‘oh, I hear you have a new baby,’ or ‘it’s your birthday today,'” Kiriakou said. “It was almost like an extended family, people enjoyed coming in.

“The community supported us and we support them, and we are quite thankful,” he said.

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