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.

2 Responses to Wexford Restaurant closing after 63 years of service

  1. June 05, 2020 12:30 noon (Toronto)

    My name is Iynkaran Sambandhan, came this country May 1990,via from Europe. Since I came this country I notice this restaurant all the time. nearly 30 years Warden/Lawrence , This restaurant is a symbol of that area. Even though there is many many restaurant in GREEK VILLAGE (Tasts of Danforth) Our Srilankan familes like your tast of Danforth festivles. I hope may be some of your Grandchildren (3rd generation) may sell some body who knows the restaurant business (some other communites like Indians, or Philipnes or even Caribanen people. Any Good luck for you families and good rest in Greek Island. (good weather), If you invite me I must take a pictures of you entire family? By the way when you going to close the restaurant? Any Closing day -TASTE OF DANFORTH, invite me?

    • Barry A Cohen says:

      I have had the honour of knowing this wonderful family for over44 years. The success they have achieved is well earned and the result of much sacrifice throughout the years.
      The restaurant a symbol
      of the family spirit that cane first and was always present in all that they did
      Canada welcomed them in and they responded by becoming an integral part of the culture and community.
      People went to the Wexford because it was warm, caring and let you know you were important to them.
      I guess all good things have a timeline and the family has chosen to retire at this time.
      My heartfelt congratulations to the founder Jerry and to Tommy and Tony for making the Wexford the wonderful place it was.
      Enjoy all the fruits of your many years of giving back to the community and be proud for all you, as a family, accomplished.

      Barry Cohen

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