As part of the ‘Riverside BIA: 40 Years, 40 Stories’ series we’re putting a spotlight on Tabule Middle Eastern Cuisine. We spoke to Diana Sideris – one of the owners of this long-standing and much-loved restaurant business in Toronto’s Riverside neighborhood.
By 2012, Tabule owners Chef Rony Goraichy and Diana Sideris had had success with their first location in Midtown/Davisville, and were looking to expand. They were eyeing Toronto’s downtown east.
“Part of our brand was to make sure we were in a neighborhood, not just any location,” says Diana. They looked at 810 Queen Street East in Riverside, which housed a medical clinic at the time.
“There was Bonjour Brioche right next door and then De Grassi Street and the bridge, and we just connected with it,” recalls Diana, “since day 1 when we opened in 2013, we had people bringing us flowers. People were so supportive of us being here.”
Tabule transformed the existing space on Queen with their modern decor, vibrant back patio, and really added value to the neighborhood, which people appreciated. The restaurant has had a consistent contemporary aesthetic since the beginning, designed to compliment and fit in with the Riverside neighborhood.
The years have proved Tabule are much loved in Toronto, for example, they’ve won several years in NOW Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards for ‘Best Middle Eastern Restaurant’ and ‘Best Falafel’.
What is one of your most cherished experiences/times being in this community?
“Our first festival experience was with Riverside Eats & Beats Streetfest, it was the first big community event we had ever done”, says Diana.
This experience motivated Diana to help start the Midtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA). She started by approaching a couple businesses and then growing the movement to bring all businesses on board through the formal process. It was all because of the inspiration from Riverside BIA.
And since that first taste of being a part of something big, Tabule has been a huge community supporter in Riverside, taking part in local festivals and events throughout the year, and supporting good causes like Fife House, Nellie’s Shelter, The Red Door, the Riverside Antler Breakfast, and many more.
In late-August 2020, Tabule took part in ‘Riverside Eats Virtually: an evening with locals chefs, for a good cause!” in support of Mustard Seed, Fontbonne Ministries food program in Riverside. The incredible video created for the event where Chef Rony prepares ‘Fattush Salad with Seared Hallum Cheese’ shows the warmth of the Tabule family and the fresh, traditional recipes they pride themselves on.
When asked what the experience of running a local restaurant during a global pandemic has taught them, Diana shared, “it reinforced just how much the local community really wanted us to be here”. She said locals would send flowers and their children’s drawings to thank the restaurant for staying open during such a challenging time.
“During tough times, it really gives you the courage to keep on going… it’s these kind of rewards and being part of a strong community that make it worth it”.
The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighborhood of community-builders.