The Depanneur | She Does The City

The Depanneur is a sun-drenched place to spend your mornings surrounded by fantastic foods and the energetic, charismatic people who are passionate about making them

Annie Webber | APRIL 25, 2012 |

Len Senater wanted a different party.  He wanted a small gathering of friends to cook together, joined later by a few more to enjoy the fruits of their labour.  When the best he could do was a church basement that required no swearing and everybody out by 8pm, an idea was born.  That idea is all grown up now, and it’s on the corner of College and Rusholme Park.  It’s called the Depanneur.

A depanneur, in other, more francophone parts of our country, is more or less a corner store.  Some people’s Montréal-based friends will accidentally/adorably refer to a corner store here in Ontario as a “dep” — but this eatery is so much more than that.  Originally a corner store, Len kept the gum stickers (pictured below), gave the name a Mtl twist, but rooted his shop’s philosophy to the original meaning of the word – which is someone who helps you out of a jam.

“I wanted a place where more interesting food things can happen than in a regular restaurant,” says Len of his open concept kitchen and eating space.  With a commercially inspected kitchen, a commercial dishwasher, plenty of cooking tools and space, it’s the ideal spot to whip up something tasty.


This Little Piggy Went to the Rusholme Park Supper Club | Sheryl Kirby

This Little Piggy Went to the Rusholme Park Supper Club

BySheryl Kirby | February 23, 2012 |

It’s probably inappropriate of me, but I’m in the middle of reading a cookbook on Appalachian food, and attending a dinner featuring 9 different pork items on the same weekend meant that there were more than a few quotes from Deliverance being spouted at Jason Rees’ Porknography dinner at the Rusholme Park Supper Club this past weekend.

Jason and sous chef Jamie (aka. The Pork Ninjas) promised us a 3×3 dinner (3 courses with 3 different pork items at each course) and they did not fail to deliver.

We started with the weirdest bit first, as The Pork Ninjas served up pork cheek, something that carries a bit of squick value but is actually very delicate and tasty.

Pork cheek was diced and fried and served as guanciale  in bruschetta (top) and in a spaghetti carbonara (left) on an edible Chinese soup spoon (think a spoon-shaped cracker). More fried cheek was added to Southern-style grits that were topped with slices of cheek and roast apples.


Breakfast & Lunch Cafe By Day, Supper Club By Night | Ate by Ate

Breakfast & Lunch Cafe By Day, Supper Club By Night – The Concept Space and Food Experience at The Depanneur, Part I

Deb | December 24, 2011 |

Have you ever been to a place that makes you feel so inspired, so excited, and so at home that you can’t believe it hasn’t always been a part of your life?  A place that makes you feel so full of life that all you want to do is soak in everything that goes on around you when you’re in this space?  If you have, you know the amazing sense of warmth and comfort I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, I’m about to tell you about the best foodie discovery I have made since I started Ate by Ate.  No wait, scratch that, the best foodie discovery I have EVER made.  I KNOW, this is a big deal!  You all know how I feel about finding gems around the city so when I say I’ve found a holy grail, you know it’s a monumental phenomenon.  Not only have I found a wonderful, exciting food spot in the city that serves healthy, delicious eats, but encompasses everything I love about food.

The Depanneur, located on College Street between Dufferin and Dovercourt, isn’t just an eatery that serves weekend brunch, organic food, and daily breakfasts and lunches.  It’s a concept space.  A breakfast and lunch cafe by day; a supper club by night.  The Depanneur holds workshops, cooking classes, serves breakfast and lunch, hosts themed dinner parties, provides an open kitchen space for passionate lovers of cooking and food, and functions as a launching pad for food entrepreneurs and independent food businesses.  I am so happy I got the chance to sit down with Len, owner and brains behind The Depanneur, to talk about the space and its contextual situation within the greater food community.


First Look: The Depanneur | Post City

First Look: The Depanneur, a café, corner store and supper club mash-up on College Street

BY JON SUFRIN | Sep. 14, 2011 |

When Len Senater got out of the graphic design business to get into food, he knew that he wanted to eschew the traditional restaurant model. Most restaurants are too impersonal, he says, plus, the financial risks are too high to get truly creative. After taking over a run-down convenience store at College and Dovercourt and spending months on the renovation (“it was more like an exorcism,” he says), Senater opened up his hybrid creation, The Depanneur, in late August.

The concept: By day, The Depanneur acts as a particularly green-focused grocery store and café. Cooking essentials like organic produce and dairy line the shelves, while coffee (from I Deal $2-$4), breakfast sandwiches ($3-$4) and organic ice cream (from Organic Meadow, $1-$3.50) sate the to-go crowd. Particularly observant patrons may notice that nearly all the furniture is on wheels: the interior makeup of the place is mutable to make room for The Deppaneur’s alter-ego, the Rusholme Park Supper Club. Currently in its beta-testing stage, Senater would like to see the supper club as a regularly-occurring event hosted by different chefs and food-lovers. The host will be responsible for a prix-fixe menu and will join the guests in a family-style dinner. Ideally, theme nights will occur: a literary themed dinner, perhaps, or a musical dinner where the dishes are based on songs. For Senater, the space is all about creating a unique experience.


Welcome to the new food order | Toronto Star

Len Senater in front of the old convenience store he aims to convert into The Depanneur, a coffee shop that will convert into a supper club in the evening. (VINCE TALOTTA / TORONTO STAR) 

Welcome to the new food order

Toronto’s A La Cart food-cart program didn’t die in vain. Creative ideas abound for new eating spaces that break the traditional restaurant model.

By DAVID SAX | Sat., May 14, 2011 | Toronto Star

Len Senater has a plan, or more accurately, a scheme. Over a lunch of reheated homemade Indian food in his kitchen (“It’s leftovers,” he offers with a shrug, “it’s what you have for lunch”), the 40-year-old designer paints a picture of a food-focused community space outside the boundaries of the traditional restaurant. Next month, in an old convenience store at the corner of College St. and Rusholme Park Cres., Senator will open The Depanneur, a low-key coffee shop that during the day will serve coffee (no espresso), tea and toast.

Coffee shops are nothing radical, but his plans for The Depanneur at night make Senater a bit of a maverick. He’ll close to the public, push together the tables and host the Rusholme Park Supper Club, a sort of permanent pop-up restaurant with a rotation of chefs, menus, concepts and diners.

“The idea of locking myself in the back of a restaurant, slaving away to cook the same thing for people I never meet, does not seem to be a fun way to spend my days,” says Senater. “I asked myself, ‘How could I get closer to food in a fun way while avoiding the traditional pitfalls that plague the restaurant model?’”

It’s a question that many in the city are asking these days, especially since the disastrous A la Cart food-cart program was mercy-killed by City Council last month. That doomed experiment — inspired by food lovers and chefs to bring more diverse choices to Toronto’s streets — was micromanaged and strangled by bureaucracy, bankrupting owners and disappointing eaters.

But it did not die in vain.