By Brad Whitehouse
Associate News Editor
The collapse of the Empress Hotel building this April could have been the end of Salad King. But while plates of pad thai rotted away in the crumbled establishment, owner Ernest Liu cut a deal to reopen the Thai restaurant around the corner in a new location this December. Renovations are under way on the second floor of 340 Yonge Street, above the Footlocker and less than a stone’s throw away from the Gould Street location.
“Before we signed the lease [in July] it seemed like the whole city knew we were coming here,” laughed Liu.
Re-opening in the same location wasn’t an option. The Empress Hotel is in legal limbo right now as the owner, Mumbai-based Lalani Group, wants to bring in the wrecking ball. But the city of Toronto claims the 122-year-old building is a heritage site.
Ryerson has also expressed interest in purchasing the building, given its location on campus. “If the price were right we might be interested, but everything would be pending board approval,” said Janet Mowat, director of public affairs.
Liu estimates that he lost about $1 million in damage from the collapse. But despite the wreckage one thing remains intact: the menu. Liu says they will continue to dish out the same fare. And don’t expect a makeover of the restaurant either.
He plans on keeping the same atmosphere and aesthetic, and is working with design firm Munge Leung, who designed the Gould Street location. Liu says he wanted to involve Ryerson interior design students in the renovation process.
Like most Ryerson students, secondyear food and nutrition student Lesia Polischuk, will probably want to be involved at the end of the process, when it comes time to chow down on cheap Thai food once again. “I’ll be there when it reopens,” she says, “even if it means trekking through the snow.”