Pop-up pantries are all over Toronto ever since the lockdown, but the latest one to open is in an unexpected place.
Bar Neon started using the shipping container between their patio and Cosmos Nature Laneway as a takeout bread and wine shop around mid-September.
You can actually get everything you'd normally get from the restaurant for takeout here, including their scratch sourdough, pita and dips and even their famous oysters, plus a selection of wine, beer and spirits.
They're partnering with Ambassador for pickup orders, and the shipping container will also double as a pickup window for Uber and DoorDash.
Popular dips ($7 - $8) include tzatziki, muhummara and taramasolata.
Accoutrements like pickled asparagus ($12), garlic scapes ($7), organic olive oil and Aegean fleur de sel are also available.
There are a variety of red, white and sparkling wines, but for something a little different try a $20 Greek white with strong herbal pine undertones.
Manager Corey Patey describes it as Bar Neon's "way of being COVID-proof," explaining, "If we go into another lockdown we're still able to sell everything we normally do."
Bar Neon is currently renovating their Wallace location and using it as a commissary and catering space (this is where all sourdough and pita is made). They've also been doing grocery pickup out of the commissary space and may do that here too.
The container was previously used as a shed of sorts, for storage, but it's been totally converted with fridges and even a wood stove and AC.
Patey says the idea came about when brainstorming what do for "steady revenue" in order to survive, coming up with this two-pronged solution: "We're able to operate the kitchen inside and takeout here."
When it comes to how people are responding to the new pantry, Patey says, "So far, so good," though "Some people are still unfamiliar with Ambassador." It's recommended you place your order beforehand through the app.
Patey also says the patio has been pretty full lately, so some guests who can't get a spot choose to grab a few snacks from the shipping container and wait in Susan Tibaldi Parkette across the street for a table to free up.
Hours are currently Wednesday to Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., but they're looking to open seven days a week within the next couple of weeks. As for winter, they're planning on staying open with their toasty heater to keep them warm.
by Amy Carlberg via blogTO