April 19, 2024


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Farah bullish on his new Spanish restaurant in Halifax | Local-Business | Business

As an eye-catcher to capture the attention of passersby, it’s hard to beat a life-sized steel bull in front of your restaurant. 

Khalil Farah spent $13,000 to have the thousand-pound bull built in China. It’s modelled on one that stands outside his favourite restaurant in Spain. 

“If I wanted to get it made in the States, it probably would have been about 40,” said Farah, owner of the newly opened Los Toros, located on the Halifax waterfront. 

Farah, who also owns Orso Pub and Grill and the Snappy Tomato, has been in the restaurant business since 2006. After he and his wife travelled to Spain several times, he decided Spanish cuisine would be his next concept. 

“If you look here, at the waterfront, we need diversity,” Farah said. 

“The main thing when you go eat in restaurants is Italian. But we think that people are now more accepting of different foods, different spices, it’s not like 1990 anymore. So, I thought to bring in Spanish, tapas, pintxos (Basque-style tapas), stuff like this, paella. Nobody does paella here, and I think it will be a good add to the waterfront and to Halifax in general.” 

To reserve your table, visit us at Lostoros.ca #halifaxnoisefood #halifaxwaterfront #downtownhalifax #haligonia

Posted by Los TOROS auténtico español on Sunday, January 10, 2021

Farah had been looking for a waterfront location and thought he might open a restaurant in the Queen’s Marque project. But his Realtor told him there was a chance to take over a space owned by the Armour Group — also the developer of Queen’s Marque, which is basically next door — that once housed the venerable Stayner’s Wharf. 

“We had to put in an offer of how much we wanted to pay, and we asked for six months (free rent) originally so we could renovate,” said Farah. 

“The lease is for 10 years. However, when the time came to sign the lease, the pandemic started so I said we have to take this into consideration, it’s going to be hard to get people to work and to be open. So, they ended up giving us close to 11 months’ free rent.” 

Farah spent most of that time renovating.  He now has a 95-seat restaurant with additional seating for 160 outdoors.  Filling those seats is just one of the challenges of opening now. 

“I’m not nervous about the number, not at all. I was nervous about the kitchen, and I’m very worried about the pandemic, if people can come out and if we can seat enough people to pay the rent because the rent is not cheap here. That’s my main concern, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel now,” he said. 

“We were going to open in November and then we decided to wait to see if they were going to close again, and they did close again. I had a full team, but I lost most of my kitchen staff. Servers, I probably lost two or three.”  

The pandemic has also affected shipping times for supplies. Wine, vermouth and sherry are imported from Spain, but not all of it has arrived.  The shipping time for cheese has doubled from three to six weeks.  Fortunately, as with cured meats, the freshness of aged cheeses is not a concern. 

Farah said Spanish cuisine is so varied it could form the basis of menus for 20 different restaurants.  His will feature paella and, on Friday and Saturday, the first two nights of business, which were “fully booked,” every single table ordered it. 

The most popular paella so far is the mixed, which includes both meat and seafood. 

“I expected the vegetarian to be ordered a lot, but we’ve sold only one,” he said. 

“It takes time, but we do have 12 burners. I’m going to take the months before summer . . . to see how much we can put out. We put on the menu that it’s a 30-minute wait because it does take about 20-22 minutes to cook, and you can’t make it faster, it doesn’t work.”