The Más Playas restaurant group opened its fourth Toronto location, Playa Cabana Bar Esquina, at 6 Eglinton Ave. E., mezzanine level, in August 2020 and although they have faced challenges as a result of the pandemic and ongoing construction in the neighbourhood, the restaurant’s Mexican vibe has been well-received by midtown residents.
“One of the biggest things that’s helped us survive opening in a pandemic is the Yonge-Eglinton community,” sales manager Sandra Axellson said in an interview.
Restaurant manager Keron Johnson echoed her enthusiasm, saying the location’s success has had a lot to do with its loyal customers who “have ordered multiple times through the pandemic” and are now coming back for indoor dining.
Más Playas owner Dave Sidhu was inspired to create the restaurants when he travelled to Mexico and “totally fell in love with” its people, food and culture, Johnson said. After meeting a family from a small village who invited him to stay in their home and shared authentic Mexican recipes with him, Sidhu decided to open a place when he returned to Toronto.
The word “playa” means beach in Spanish and they try to keep that same beach vibe at Playa Cabana, Axellson said. She called the Yonge-Eglinton location is one of their most beautiful designs, with an atmosphere where diners actually feel like they are walking into a bar in Tulum (a Mexicabn town on the Caribbean coast).
For now they are sticking with all COVID protocols, including continuing to maintain some social distancing even though they are no longer required to do so, which Axellson said “goes a long way for customer satisfaction.”
In addition to safety practices, Johnson said, “We’ve really tried to keep an eye on the quality of the food going out, including special methods of packing to ensure the quality is sustained through delivery.”
The staff at Playa Cabana has been going to great lengths to boost customer morale, including putting on a costume party for Halloween and creating customized, theme-based menus for different holidays.
The restaurant is adamant that their customers are given the best value for their dollar, such as generous portions, quality and taste in a fun atmosphere, whether it is for a date night, birthday party, Christmas party or Bar Mitzvah.
Currently, Axellson said, they are booking a lot of holiday parties.
“Families are booking for larger family events so they can get a little taste of being on a Mexican beach,” especially if they are holding off on family trips due to COVID concerns, she said.
Playa Cabana Bar Esquina is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12 noon to 9 p.m.