Bar Buca

King Street Food Company was planning a massive expansion across the city

According to documents filed at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto’s King Street Food Company (KSFC), the hospitality group behind some of the city’s biggest and best-known fine dining restaurants including Buca, Bar Buca, and many others, is insolvent and looking to restructure its financial situation in an effort to carry on operations to maintain the brand and reopen when they are able.

If the possible failure of King Street Food Company, which operates under the brands Jacobs & Co., Buca, Bar Buca, La Banane, CXBO, does occur it would be a massive blow to the city’s restaurant scene. 

What the court documents reveal is that the company has a large debt load of $34 million owed to its creditors and is facing a 98 per cent drop in sales following the pandemic. But, it also reveals the extent of the company’s ambitious expansion plans, and what the city is missing out on if KSFC is unable to continue operations.

Here is a glimpse of what the company had in the works according to the “Factum of the Applicants” filed on Nov. 6. 

  1. Buca St Clair: Buca has plans to move up the middle of Toronto and first opened at Yonge and Eglinton. The Buca St. Clair location was next up, and, according to the court filings, was “planned to be approximately six thousand and one hundred (6,100) square foot and one hundred twenty (120) seat capacity Italian family-style restaurant. Construction of this restaurant was substantially completed in March of 2020. Although it has not formally opened, this restaurant is currently being used to run part of the KSF Group’s takeout business.” 
  2. Buca Vaughan: The Buca expansion was planned to continue right up to Vaughan and a new 5,600-square-foot Buca restaurant and Bar Buca “planned to be opened in Vaughan as part of a broader mixed use planned community.” According to filings, construction has advanced on this project to date. 
  3. Man Ray Bar a Vin: Planned to open above the very popular La Banane restaurant helmed by chef Brandon Olsen, Man Ray Bar a Vin is described as “an approximately two thousand and seven hundred (2,700) square foot private dining, event space and cocktail bar.” According to filings, the project is substantially complete and was “weeks away from opening when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit.” Ouch. 
  4.  KSF Commissary: This massive project was scheduled to be opening in the newly developed Globe and Mail Centre and would have clocked in at more than 10,000 square feet.
  5. KSF at CIBC Square: Another major restaurant project, the KSF at the CIBC Square is planned to be an approximately 13,000 square feet restaurant in a new commercial office tower that is currently under construction in the Financial District.
  6. KSF at the PH: The Park Hyatt hotel was destined to be the location of KSF at the PH, a 12,000-square-foot Japanese restaurant.  
  7. KSF at The One: This one is massive. KSF at The One is described as “an approximately forty thousand and three hundred (40,300) square foot restaurant, café and event space planned to be opened as part of the One Bloor West condominium and hotel development.” 
  8. Buca Bay: Lastly, a new 6,700-square-foot Buca was planned for Brookfield Place at Bay and Wellington. According to the court documents, the lease for the restaurant has been terminated by the landlord. 

Obviously, KSFC was engaging in a major expansion program that would have, and still could be transformative for the local dining scene. Currently, Jacobs & Co. is offering takeout, while Buca is also doing pick-up and delivery out of its 2 St. Clair West. La Banane and CXBO have remained temporarily closed since the pandemic began in March.

According to the court documents, KSFC has obtained protection under the Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA), a federal law allowing insolvent corporations that owe their creditors over $5 million to restructure their business and financial affairs. 

The documents reveal that KSFC hopes to continue to operate their takeout and delivery businesses “to stabilize the business operations to enable the Group to develop a strategy for the reopening of locations when possible.”

Although KSFC appears to have a long road ahead, CCAA protection may represent a path forward for the brand with the documents stating “a Court-supervised process will allow the KSF Group to develop and oversee an orderly restructuring of its business that will allow its brands to continue to thrive when more favourable conditions return.”

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO