Angel Investor on the Best Toronto Restaurants to Host Business Meetings
Toronto’s known for its incredible restaurants, bars, and cute coffee shops, with new spots opening almost every week. And with so much choice, the search for the right place for business meetings with people in different industries can be challenging (and time-consuming).
I spent nearly a decade at Jet Cooper and Shopify hosting dinners and events, and more recently while building Backbone Angels and Ghlee, have been spending more time in smaller one-on-ones at coffee shops and brunch spots. I really believe that the environment you’re in can make or break deals, direct conversation, and set the tone for the type of business meeting you’re going to have. With that being said, I’m happy to share all my go-to’s in Toronto, for every type of meeting.
For a Breakfast Meeting: 1 Kitchen Restaurant
I love breakfast meetings. As an early bird, I’m the most productive in the mornings. Combined with the fact that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, it’s a win-win.
1 Kitchen Restaurant is the perfect spot to start the day. With casual, communal seating, 1 Kitchen Restaurant is perfect for collaborative business meetings, and it serves as a pre-work social setting or networking setting.
My go-to dish is the Farmer’s Market Scramble–a delicious mix of egg whites and a host of veggies served with a harvest salad. It’s the perfect meal to start your day off on the right foot.
For a Brunch: Lady Marmalade
If you’re looking for a great spot for a 1:1 or intimate group business meetings, this is the place. With incredible service that’s both quick and friendly–plus a bright space, this brunch meeting will feel like a sunny summer day, any time of the year.
My favourite dish is the Huevos Migas, but being a vegetarian I substitute the sausage for avocado. For those who love spice, Lady Marmalade‘s in-house hot sauce is a must-try.
If you want to spice things up, you can order a glass of wine or champagne to go with your beet juice, both are full of antioxidants.
Located in the East End, Lady Marmalade’s interior is immaculate – designed by one of our favourite architects in the city, Omar Gandhi. This is the perfect place to spark creative brainstorming!
For a Working Lunch: Fresh on Spadina
Throwing it back to my Jet Cooper and Shopify days, Fresh became a mainstay for a good working lunch session. The Shopify office was just across the street, leading to many meetings here (the location has only improved with their recent renovations, opening up the space for more tables and sprucing up the decor!).
The best part is that Fresh can accommodate virtually any dietary restriction, with the entirety of its menu being vegan and having a huge range of gluten-free options. The Quinoa Onion rings are a must, and my go-to is usually The Big Salad.
For an Upscale Lunch: Noodle Bar
For a high-end lunch in the downtown core, there’s no better place than Noodle Bar. Located right in the centre of the city at University and Richmond, David Chang’s Toronto installation is always a crowd pleaser.
There’s always something on the menu that I’m excited to try, though it is always changing. My favourite dish right now is the Extremely Spicy Noodle.
There are so many great, upscale restaurants in Toronto but this one takes the cake for a lunch meeting. The fact that it’s always busy with high energy is perfect. No one is paying too much attention to you because people are always coming and going. Feel free to talk shop – the next table won’t know!
For an After-Work Cocktail: Founder Bar
When 5 PM hits but the work isn’t done yet, Founder Restaurant & Cocktail Bar is my go-to spot on Dundas West. The operation is managed by co-founder Chef Kendall Collingridge. The cocktail and food menus change regularly, but I always have a dry gin martini with extra olives. I can confidently say that Founder makes the best martini in the city.
As an investor in the business, I adore the bar and the vision behind the place which came together among a few of our close friends. Afshin Mousavian, who is the ultimate host and the most discerning cocktail connoisseur, worked to bring the idea into reality in 2018.
Funny enough, we actually had one of his cocktails at our wedding, dubbed the “Af Drink.” When he later came to us with the idea of opening up a bar, we knew we had to be involved. My husband Satish and I knew anything he did would be incredible.
For an Elevated Dinner: Byblos
For when you’re looking to close the deal over dinner, Byblos is my go-to for business meetings. While it’s a more high-end experience, it does so without being stuffy. Plus it has a great menu, and an elevated wine list, to please anyone you’re hosting for dinner.
I have so much nostalgia for Byblos: date nights with Satish, countless celebratory team dinners, and winning over candidates to make the move from the US to Toronto. It’s truly the ideal spot for any special occasion, business included.
Arati Sharma is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and technology leader based in Toronto, Canada. She is the Founding Partner of Backbone Angels, an investor collective led by women executives from Shopify.