Our History

history

The Senator is Toronto’s oldest restaurant, dating back to the 19th century when it was just a house at 249 Victoria Street. Since then, the Senator has put its heart and soul into making the freshest, highest-quality food for generations of good-food lovers.

THE HISTORY OF THE SENATOR

Dedicated to all the customers of the Senator; but especially for Nick and Cecil

1860 – 1929

The origin of the house at 249 Victoria Street that became the historic Senator Restaurant, dates back to the earliest property records kept by the Town of York.

In this era, the newly formed City of Toronto – named after the Mohawk Indian phrase “meeting place” – was a residential and commercial melting pot of the many cultures that were immigrating to Canada. Dundas Street was known as Wilton Street and the property was owned by the General Council of the Salvation Army.

1929 – 1948

In 1929, prior to the Great Depression, Toronto had become one of the leading cultural centres of the world. The restored ELGIN/WINTERGARDEN and PANTAGES ED MIRVISH Theatres are the last two original vaudeville houses of the era and with MASSEY HALL they have now formed the downtown theatre district. Robert Angeloff, a Macedonian entrepreneur, converted the house to the BUSY BEE DINER. The “B” consisted of an open kitchen and counter and became a local destination for traditional meals and coffee to go. In 1938 Luke and Vangel Eftimoff purchased the Busy Bee which they later sold to George Nicolau, a cook with a vision.

1948 – 1984

George renovated and expanded the Busy Bee and renamed it the SENATOR. Designed and built by the Toronto Refrigeration Company, the SENATOR remains today in its original style and fixtures from 1948. After the war, downtown Toronto along Yonge Street – known across Canada as “the strip” – became the destination for  the new restaurants and nightclubs in the city; BASSEL’S , STEELE’S, THE BROWN DERBY, TOWN TAVERN, COLONIAL TAVERN, SILVER RAIL and  LE COQ D’OR but regrettably these are all now gone. George retired in 1964 but the restaurant continued to be operated by his heirs. With his son Nick working the stoves and nephew Cecil serving customers, the SENATOR became a Toronto landmark earning a reputation for the “ best egg sandwich and coffee” in town.

1984 – 2013

In the past 30 years, under the ownership of the Sniderman family, the SENATOR has become a Toronto landmark and dining institution. The oldest restaurant in the city still has a youthful spirit and we have served generations of Torontonians and visitors alike who appreciate our high quality standards; listed on back page. Now in our 84th year of continuous operation in the same location, we take pride in the traditions and commitment to our family business. The SENATOR began as a home and “meeting place” and remains one to our many valued friends and customers.