Permanent closure and rebranding of a Toronto Russian-themed restaurant
A teahouse that opened in Toronto with a Russian theme is closing and rebranding to remove all traces of Russia.
The future of the Moscow teahouse looked a bit murky, opening during shutdowns selling caviar with price tags in the hundreds.
The company already had another location in Ottawa, which is also closed and renamed. The concept is based on the Russian teahouse in New York.
Not only did the business open in Toronto during the shutdowns, but it also opened just before Russia attacked Ukraine. They were even forced to defend themselves and stop serving Russian products after facing backlash.
Although people supported them after the backlash, Ilon Tyan, chief marketing officer of the Dreammind Group (which oversees the Moscow teahouse and many other restaurants), told blogTO “public sentiment turned against the support of the brand”.
“Due to the ongoing tragic events in Ukraine and as a war refugee, supporter of human rights, peace and justice for all, I can no longer operate the Moscow Tea Room brand,” says a statement sent to blogTO that Dreammind plans on posting on social media, signed by President Abbis Mahmoud.
The Toronto and Ottawa spaces are being cleaned up of their Russian theme and renamed JOI on Avenue and JOI on Sussex respectively.
“Menus will undergo a significant overhaul to have more on-trend, shareable plates that will remain premium but at a much more accessible price point in line with the likes of Moxie’s or Cactus Club,” Tyan told blogTO.
“We will be moving away from the classic tea service, but will continue to offer premium tea with off-menu entrees/desserts.”
The Moscow Tea Room is closing in Toronto on April 23 and is expected to reopen as JOI around May 11, with the Ottawa location closing a week later on April 29 and reopening as JOI around May 6.