TORONTO — Pearl King — a dim sum restaurant located on King Street in Toronto — has closed, with operators citing a decline in revenues and drop in pedestrian traffic as key reasons for the shutdown, according to BlogTO.
Largely blaming the King-Street pilot project for the closure — an initiative meant to increase TTC traffic flow on one of the city’s busiest streets — the restaurant will now operate solely out of its Pearl Harbourfront location on Queens Quay.
“It is sad, but [we] have to announce that we are closing the operation of our organization in this location…” reads a notice posted in the restaurant’s window. “In order to cut down the business cost and due to depression in [the] market, as well as all these changes on King Street, we will have to close.”
The news comes after months of protests and pushback from King-Street restaurant operators who rebelled against the one-year pilot project, which forced all traffic between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets to turn right after travelling one block.
The controversial pilot project, which began last November, infuriated some restaurant owners, who felt the pilot project took away key access to parking on King Street and decreased foot traffic in the neighbourhood overall.
However, a study presented by the City of Toronto in April showed that customer spending was in line with seasonal spending patterns over the past three years and reported all-day pedestrian volumes “remained high,” while the number of cyclists on King Street saw a “moderate increase.”
While city officials opted to bring free two-hour parking back to King Street in early January, the move didn’t satisfy some restaurant operators.
Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill protested the King-Street pilot project by playing street hockey to highlight the change in traffic patterns. The protest was organized by Kit Kat owner Al Carbone, who also set up ice sculptures that read “Make King Street Great Again” and “SOS” (Save Our Streets), blaming the pilot project for ruining what he hoped would be a successful Christmas season for his business. Robert Garabedian, owner of Maki My Way also said his business was impacted by a lack of foot traffic.
Pearl King is the first restaurant to officially close on King Street since the pilot project began last November.