F.L.I.P. Kitchens

A Toronto food hall is helping start-up businesses flourish

Toronto is quite literally a melting pot of cuisines, and F.L.I.P. Kitchens has brought it all under one roof.  Along with celebrating the city’s diverse culinary scene, the food hall is helping aspiring entrepreneurs run their first brick-and-mortar locations – with a much smaller financial risk – all while growing a more sustainable food sector in the city.

F.L.I.P. is the acronym for Food Learning Innovation Place. A project by the City of Toronto, the new concept is intended for four unique first-time kitchen leaseholders to have the opportunity to operate their own business with a focus on newcomer, queer, women and BIPOC entrepreneurs, on a cost-recovery basis and below-market rent.

Bunhaus F.L.I.P.
Bunhaus on Instagram

Located at 5210 Yonge St., the space is equipped with five kitchens and room for indoor and outdoor seating.  Restaurants currently occupying the space include Bunhaus, an Eastern European establishment that serves stuffed buns and soup; Chic Peas Veg, a plant-based and vegan eatery; Da Endz, specializing in Jamaican comfort food; and Teta’s Kitchen offering Lebanese and Indonesian fare. 

Vendors sign a two-year leasing agreement with an option to extend for an additional year. Along with the space, they also have access to the Toronto Small Business Enterprise Centre, which offers guidance and the tools required to start and grow a sustainable business.

CaterToronto will run the fifth kitchen, a non-profit organization focused on advancing the careers of racialized women and newcomers in the food sector.

Although caterToronto’s kitchen is not yet operable, according to the company’s executive director Vanessa Ling Yu, they’ve been busy readying F.L.I.P. Kitchens for grand opening activities including hands-on culinary workshops; food and beverage tastings; small farm and independent makers’ shopping; pop-ups; kitchen dance parties, student research and tours, and epic social dinners.

Weekly programming will connect the general public to neighbourhood residents and professionals in the food sector to raise awareness, provide training and build networks.

“Enabling F.L.I.P. Kitchens is another way the city is working to support new and diverse restaurant entrepreneurs and the recovery of restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said a representative from the City of Toronto. “F.L.I.P. Kitchens aims to assist equity-deserving groups from the BIPOC and Indigenous Community and supports Toronto’s Black Food Sovereignty Plan.”