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Holt Renfrew to Debut New Restaurant Concept at its Bloor Street Flagship This Month

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Large-format luxury multi-brand retailer Holt Renfrew will unveil its newest restaurant concept next week at its 50 Bloor Street West flagship in Toronto. While it had initially been announced that the restaurant would be branded as a Colette Grand Café as has been the case with three other Holt Renfrew stores, signage recently went up for the rebranded ‘Holts Café’ which will open to the public on January 22. 

Despite the last-minute change in name, the new Holts Café on Bloor will be operated by Chase Hospitality Group, which also owns Colette Grand Café as well as other notable restaurant concepts including The Chase, Kasa Moto, Planta, and other concepts. Chase operates Colette Grand Café locations at Holts stores in Vancouver and Montreal as well as at the Yorkdale location in Toronto. Colette Grand Café launched in 2014 at Toronto’s Thompson Hotel. 

UK-based architect Alex Cochrane designed the new space, with renderings indicating a luxurious environment overlooking busy Bloor Street towards the recently opened Eataly at Manulife Place. Executive Chef Benjamin Lillico will bring a “contemporary Canadian menu” to the new Holts Café Bloor Street. 

Views will be particularly prominent, given that the Holts Café will feature 20-foot-high glass windows overlooking the street. The dramatic windows will be part of the new facade of the Holt Renfrew Bloor Street flagship which will be unveiled later this spring. 

Holts Cafe. Rendering: Holt Renfrew
Holts Cafe. Rendering: Holt Renfrew

The new Holts Café will occupy the same space as the previous restaurant on the mezzanine level of the Holt Renfrew bloor Street flagship — the restaurant is located on the same floor as the updated 8,000-square-foot women’s footwear hall which re-opened in the store in the fall of 2018. The new restaurant will seat up to 145 guests in the dining room, bar, lounge area and private dining room. 

The restaurant design will include terrazzo floors, vibrant furniture colours, and rich-brass accents throughout the space, according to Holt Renfrew. An open brass screen will make parts of the restaurant visible from the women’s footwear department, which will open up the space and possibly add some natural light to the mezzanine level. 

The ‘contemporary Canadian cuisine’ will be “driven by European influence”, according to Holt Renfrew. Chef Lillico will focus on sustainability as well as quality-driven ingredients that will be sourced locally and seasonally. The menu will “pay homage to ‘Holts Café’ classics and staples with a warm, inviting, fresh and simplistic approach”. Service times will include brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and an expanded evening dinner service. More details on the menu will be released soon, as well as programming and special events. 

A Colette Grand Café had initially been announced for the Holt Renfrew Bloor Street flagship, though signage in the store changed during the first week of January. In December of 2017, we reported that Holt Renfrew had partnered with Chase Hospitality Group to rebrand five of Holts’ in-store restaurants to become Colette Grand Cafés. Of the five restaurants in Canadian Holt Renfrew stores, three ended up rebranding as Colette Grand Cafés in Vancouver, Yorkdale, and Montreal. In Vancouver, the Colette Grand Café restaurant is located on the main floor luxury hall alongside brands including Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and David Yurman. At Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Colette Grand Café occupies a back space in the Holt Renfrew store across from a recently unveiled ‘world of’ Burberry concession. The Montreal restaurant is located on the lower level of the 1300 Sherbrooke Street West Holt Renfrew store with its own street-facing entrance onto Rue de la Montagne. 

Colette Grand Cafe in Vancouver. Photo: Open Table

Edmonton’s in-store restaurant had been announced to be rebranded as a Colette Grand Café, though the transition never ended up happening. When Holt Renfrew closed its Edmonton store on January 11th, signs still called it ‘Holts Café’. The Montreal Holt Renfrew store will be closing this spring once the newly expanded Holt Renfrew Ogilvy is completed at 1307 Ste-Catherine Street West — the 250,000-square-foot Holt Renfrew Ogilvy will become the largest luxury store in Canada, by far. Holt Renfrew has not updated us on its plans for a restaurant in the new Montreal Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store, though a restaurant will be opening on the store’s fifth floor along with personal shopping suites and other additions. 

Two of Holt Renfrew’s other stores were supposed to see restaurants open in them. In Calgary, Holt Renfrew had announced in the fall of 2014 that it would open a restaurant on a newly opened fourth level of the store along with personal shopping suites ad a VIP ‘Apartment’. Oil prices tanked by early 2015 and sales at Holt’s Calgary store were said to have gone down. The fourth level of the store has yet to open to the public more than five years later. 

Colette Grand Cafe in Yorkdale. Photo: Auburn Lane

In Mississauga, as well, Holt Renfrew opened a beautiful 140,000-square-foot store at the Square One shopping centre in the summer of 2016. The new store was supposed to include a large second-level restaurant that could be accessed by a dramatic marble stairway from the expansive main floor of the store. The restaurant has yet to open, and nothing has been recently announced for the space. 

Holt Renfrew’s 50 Bloor Street West store is currently being renovated with some components set to be unveiled this spring. That includes a new facade for the store — its first new facade in more than 40 years since the store opened at that location, which will make the store almost unrecognizable. The main floor luxury hall at Holts Bloor is almost completed, with two last beauty vendors expected to open soon. Last year, Holts unveiled the renovated women’s shoe hall in the Bloor Street flagship which includes dedicated boutique spaces for Christian Louboutin, Gucci, Dior, and Roger Vivier. The store’s beauty hall relocated to the concourse level of the store last year, which saw Chanel open its first standalone beauty boutique in Canada adjacent to it. More renovations will continue at Holts’ Bloor Street store including on the women’s designer floor and elsewhere. Holt Renfrew operates a standalone men’s store nearby at 100 Bloor Street West and while it had been announced last year that men’s was relocating back into the 50 Bloor Street flagship, sources say that the 16,500-square-foot, two-level 100 Bloor men’s store will remain where it is for the time being. 

We’ll update this story once the main floor luxury hall at Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street flagship is completed within the coming weeks. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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