Hemant Bhagwani sells his Toronto restaurants
Image: Suresh Doss
One of Toronto’s best-known restaurateurs, Hemant Bhagwani has sold his restaurants and plans to take an extended break to travel and recharge.
“I will be traveling extensively for rest, recuperation, rejuvenation – and inspiration,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “I will be back once my batteries are recharged. I will then start a new journey in the Toronto food industry.”
When asked about his travel destinations, he names London, Dubai and Goa, a coastal region in India. The cuisine there focuses heavily on seafood curry dishes and dishes often feature coconut as an ingredients and frequently show the Portuguese influence leftover from Goa’s colonial past.
This may give a hint as to where Bhagwani is leaning for his eventual next venture as he says, “for me every other Indian restaurant is the same — [there are] so many parts of Indian [cuisine] which are still unexplored.”
Bhagwani started his successful run as a Toronto restaurateur with Kamasutra on Bayview in 2004. Three years later, he opened Amaya to critical acclaim and had a big part of convincing uptown Torontonians that Indian food could be more than just takeout.
Two summers ago he made headlines again when he converted Amaya to Indian Street Food Co. (see our detailed profile of ISFC for more on his history in restaurants) and then started charging an administration fee (that was shared with the back-of-house employees) instead of tips.
Vahid Hoseyni has purchased the restaurants on Bayview and another company has bought the Amaya Express operation, Bhagwani says.
Despite the fact that he has sold all of his restaurants and left for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to imagine that Bhagwani will be able to resist returning to Toronto’s culinary scene for long.