Waterloo region food news you can use from Andrew Coppolino

Food columnist Andrew Coppolino looks at recent changes to the food scene in Waterloo region.

Harmony Lunch in uptown Waterloo has closed again, Little Mushroom getting set to expand

This is the Channa Bhatura breakfast at Mast Mirchi. (Andrew Coppolino)

The food scene in any region is usually a rapidly changing one with new restaurants opening, long-standing restaurants closing and highly anticipated expected openings.

Waterloo region, which according to Statistics Canada is the country's fastest growing census metropolitan area, is no different. 

It was surprising to many that the long-standing Harmony Lunch in uptown Waterloo closed recently. The 90-year-old business served its last pork slider at the end of January.  

Similarly, Kitchener's popular Fork and Cork Grill, which had a splendid brunch operation, abruptly announced that it was closing at the end of January. The owners put a handsome amount of money into renovating the former biker-bar. A combo café-hair salon has taken the space. 

Less of a surprise was the somewhat rapid opening and closing of Anchor Bar at Waterloo Town Square. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based bar, which purportedly started the Buffalo chicken wing craze, just never seemed to get a foothold among diners in Waterloo. High rents likely played a role in the decision, too. 

Well-reported and commented on were the recent Boston Pizza shut-downs that left many employees scrambling. The Stratford location has since been re-opened by that franchise's original owners. 

Harmony Lunch in uptown Waterloo closed at the end of January. (Harmony Lunch/Facebook)

New spots and coming soon

More happily, a huge success story is Waterloo's new Korner Kitchen, which opened recently on Weber Street at Lodge Street. The breakfast joint was very popular at its small Victoria Street location. It basically tripled its seating at the new location and even that seems like it won't be enough. 

Smaller venues have popped up as well. Mast Mirchi is an Indian-Pakistani restaurant on Weber Street E. with a half-dozen booths and a focus on take-away and delivery clientele. Lady Glaze Donuts has filled a donut hole in Belmont Village when it comes to the current demand for crafted and less commercial donuts. 

You could have bet all of your hops that with a name like Beertown a pub was bound to be successful. It's pure genius. With anchor outlets in Cambridge and Waterloo, there are now eight locations open and pending. Look for new ones soon in Guelph, Barrie and Toronto. With beer and vegan food menus too, they look like a runaway success. 

A restaurant that has generated a buzz of anticipation is Ramen Rebels, slated to open soon in the Weber Street-Northfield Drive area of Waterloo. Noodles in this region are hot: Crafty Ramen opened in downtown Kitchener, and Ramen Rebels is hoping to fill a void in their neighbourhood.

Kingsway Plaza, where you will find East-Side Shawarma, will soon be home to The Flavors Authentic Pakistani Takeout and Catering. (Yes, that's the American spelling.)

On Weber Street at Montgomery near Eastwood Collegiate, indications are that J and K Cuisine Inc. Grill & Bar is getting ready to open. My guess is Caribbean. The plaza is now virtually all food businesses, which is great for the neighbourhood.

Thankfully, the region's superlative sushi restaurant, Ken Sushi House on Phillip Street is expanding its space to allow more seating. That should be completed in the next several weeks.

One of the region's most dynamic catering companies, Little Mushroom, is similarly expanding at their new facility on Sheldon Drive in Cambridge – they are adding a 30-seat lounge scheduled to open after Easter. According to owner Stephanie Soulis the executive dining lounge, with chef Jason Hanoski, formerly of Grand Trunk Saloon, will feature "taste of place" food, events, chef takeovers, take-away lunches and shareables for after work. 

In addition to food, water and the environment is also a consideration. 

"Our aim is to be operating as zero waste while serving delicious artfully crafted meals," Soulis said.