A little background of the hellish processes of opening up SBH. 38 Wellington St. East was originally Solferino Gelato & Cafe before we had taken over the spot, without the core of a standing restaurant (no exhaust, proper kitchen, and seating space), we knew we were in for a trek. We received the keys to the spot on January 15th, 2009, but hadn’t begun renovations until early February.
As some people may know, contractors cannot/must not be trusted. I won’t go into detail and complain ’cause this post will just ramble on and on about how everything/everyone working with us was ruining our lives. All in all, until we found Paul Mercer, Matthew Birtch, and all those over at SMASH Recoveries we were knee deep in assholes. So we’d like to give a long-awaited shout-out to them.
Anyways, here’s a look at the demolition.
Dining Room (front to kitchen view)
It basically looked like this for a good 3 months.
To the right: Reclaimed elmwood provided by SMASH,which is all the wood now invested in SBH.
At this point we started to feel a little bit better, even though it was May 2009 and our target date was to open in April 2009. Hardwood was installed and table were completed. The frame against the wall is now the bathroom wall partitions (notice the missing pieces, another thanks to asshole contractors).
Douglas fir bench is installed as well as the industrial light fixtures and chandeliers. Tables are formed and a thick layer of epoxy is coated. The scent of lacquer, epoxy, clear coat, and other highly toxic smells, still linger in my mind.
It may seem a little late, but we have decided to begin this blog as an alternative to an actual website with all that “flash mumbo-jumbo,” annoying pop-ups, and ridiculous design quotes. We thought that blogging would allow us to share with the world our dream, philosophy, and day to day life here at SBH (Swish by Han). Our names are Leemo and Leeto Han, two brothers born in Toronto, Ontario raised in the “City of Brotherly Love” Philadelphia, PA (guess we can be categorized as Korean-Canadian-Americans).
We are food and our food is us. Although our cuisine here at SBH centers around the traditional flavours of Korea, we have travelled the world enough to accumulate a sizable amount of gastronomical knowledge, which we are trying to share with the world without bastardizing any particular genre of cuisine. Korea is the heart of our family, but our eyes have been opened up enough to know that, just like people, food can marry “interracially” and stay in harmony.
So why did it take so long to finally decide to begin this blog or have some kind of communication with this internet savvy world? Well during the process of designing a website we never seemed to be happy with any of the outcomes. Nothing was able to really express our voice and explain what we are trying to accomplish here at SBH. Plus we were starting to run out of menus to give away.
We’re here to portray the beauty of Korea, not just with the flavours, but with its culture, style, and… love for beer and “soju.” When we came back to Toronto for the first time in over 15 years, we saw the evolution of all the diverse cuisines ei: Vietnamese, Indian, Greek, Japanese etc. But people still don’t have a clue of what “kimchi” is, but can walk into any sushi joint and be able to distinguish the differences between “nigiri” “maki” and “sashimi.” What have they done to allow the rapid globalization their nations’ food here in Toronto. So we came to a one word conclusion, PASSION. The passion to share, learn, and experience is not just a “one way street.” So hopefully we can become an outlet to globalize Korean cuisine and still stay respectful to our traditions.