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Mile End Stalwart Lawrence is Closing Temporarily For a Spring Rebirth

“I’m hoping to make it look a little bit more luxurious without losing the soul of what Lawrence is.”

Lawrence/Facebook

Mile End modern-British-and-more destination Lawrence is shutting its doors this weekend — but fear not, as its owners are giving the restaurant a refresh and will relaunch it at the end of spring.

Co-owner Marc Cohen tells Eater that after a three-quarter decade in business, he and the other co-owners (Sefi Amir, Annika Krausz, Ethan Wills) have grown a lot, meaning it’s time to hit the reset button.

“It’s been seven and a half years since we opened, and I think our idea or our dream restaurant is slightly different to what it was...when we opened we were young, we didn’t have a lot of experience, everything was kind of...DIY. I remember doing renovations and Sefi tiling.”

“I got to learn how to use a nail gun,” adds Wills.

An Instagram post announcing the temporary shutter says that Lawrence is to undergo some “physical and spiritual” renovations.

While what exactly this means for the dining options is still in the works, Cohen suggests that his team is looking to refine Lawrence as much as possible.

“Lawrence needs to be perfect. [Sister restaurant] Larrys is rough and ready and it’s packed and it’s loud, and the food is very simple and the food comes out when it’s ready, and people enjoy that rough and tumble, but sometimes you don’t want to be elbowed in the face five times in a meal.”

But this refresh doesn’t mean Lawrence will be pushed up the haute cuisine scale towards fine dining, tablecloths, and tasting menus with foams and dotted plate rims.

“We want to remove the formality and the commitment that’s tied to Lawrence, lots of people want to be able to define their own restaurant experience, they didn’t always want to spend two hours there,” says Cohen, saying it aims to be “a decadent, pampered experience that’s still on the customer’s terms”.

Staples like the extremely popular brunch, as well as the charcuterie and fish program will stick around for Lawrence 2.0, although with a more tightened approach: for example, instead of a large charcuterie plate of six items, those cured items may be integrated into other places.

On the beverage side, cocktail offerings in particular are set to get a shake up, with Wills saying that it’ll get more adventurous.

As for the physical renovations, Krausz (who designed the original Lawrence space) is aiming for something a little more sumptuous.

“I’m hoping to make it look a little bit more luxurious without losing the soul of what Lawrence is, making it look a little more elegant...for example, the lighting we put in, we were some of the first to have that in the city and now you can find that at Canadian Tire.”

For those looking for one last fill of the original Lawrence, it closes this Sunday (April 1) — the restaurant is doing a “greatest hits” menu with items like sea urchin linguine, pig cheek and apple tart, and very seasonal crab on toast.

Sunday night will also feature a special wine event from Toronto sommeliers the Grape Witches, with the aim of doing a wine event that’s accessible and educational for non-industry folks; a clear-out of the Lawrence cellars means wine by the glass will be on offer for anywhere from $5 to $20, alongside snacks and “fun beer”.

Lawrence’s principals have set June 1 as the reopening date — stay tuned for more.

Lawrence

5201 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, QC H2T 1S4 (514) 503-1070 Visit Website

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