The first NBA Courtside Restaurant, a premium, sports-inspired dining experience celebrating the National Basketball Association, will open this spring in downtown Toronto.
The 10,000-square-foot establishment, at 15 Queens Quay East, near the base of Yonge St., will celebrate the NBA through custom art and decor, a modern food and beverage program, an exclusive retail space, outdoor and private dining, and more.
NBA Courtside Restaurant will be operated by Toronto-based Urban Dining Group, a family-owned and operated business serving the Greater Toronto Area since 1989. Toronto-based chef Erica Karbelnik, who won Top Chef Canada Season 9 and Chopped Canada Season 3, will serve as NBA Courtside Restaurant’s Culinary Ambassador and will oversee the development of a globally inspired menu.
“Canada for us is an amazing market for basketball. There’s over 17.3 million fans in Canada. So that’s about half of the population and a lot of our international talent drives interest in their home countries. We had a record-breaking 22 players from Canada on the 2022-2023 opening night rosters. So for us Toronto is definitely a market where we’re very excited to be opening the first Courtside Restaurant,” said Stacie Cohen, Senior Director, Branded Attractions, NBA. “This will be the first one.
“At this point we’re looking forward to be opening the first one in Toronto and from then on we’ll see where our plans lead to. Right now, we’re focused on the first.”
The restaurant will be within walking distance of the Scotiabank Arena, the home court for the Toronto Raptors. NBA Courtside Restaurant will showcase the stages of an NBA player’s journey from dreamer to champion through artwork and décor inspired by the league and its influence on popular culture, including historic moments from NBA history.
The dining rooms will feature artwork by artists KWEST, Victor Solomon, and others. Guests will be able to view a series of NBA Top Shot Moments featuring some of the top plays from the NBA season on display in the restaurant. A large-scale Woodland pop art-style mural titled The Journey by Anishinaabe artist Jenny Kay Dupuis will be featured on one of the restaurant’s exterior walls.
“There’s no better location for the first NBA Courtside Restaurant than Canada, where basketball has a rich history and tradition,” said NBA Canada Senior Vice President, Leah MacNab, in a statement. “We can’t wait to welcome fans and guests from around the world to this incredible venue, where they can celebrate their shared love of the game in a unique way through a delicious meal and welcoming atmosphere.”
The retail space within NBA Courtside Restaurant will offer a curated collection of both Official NBA and Exclusive NBA Courtside Restaurant apparel and merchandise from 47 Brand, New Era, Mitchell & Ness and Wilson, and will feature a selection of prints and products featuring custom illustrations by Dupuis.
“It’s an honour to be a part of something in our city that is so special. Toronto loves the game. It’s part of our culture, and to showcase that in such a creative way is truly amazing,” said NBA Courtside Restaurant Culinary Ambassador, Chef Erica Karbelnik, in a statement. “From the artwork and wine to the food, this is a Toronto gem that will continue our love and passion for basketball. I am lucky to be a part of the NBA Courtside Restaurant and am excited to see what the future holds with the NBA.”
Cohen said the menu is an international cuisine but the concept has included what it calls NBA “easter eggs” which will give nods to the NBA and basketball. The 23 ounce pint glass is a subtle nod to basketball’s GOAT who played with the number 23 – Michael Jordan.
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