By Dwain Wellington Rattray
Pride Editorial Operations Manager
TORONTO, Ontario – When opportunity knocks, visionaries open the door. Such was the case with Phyllis James in 1995 when space opened up on Arrow Road, in Toronto, and she stepped forward to implement her vision; this was the birth of the Epiphany brand.
James tells Pride News that she wanted to, “Bring entertainment to another level.” With the opening of Club Epiphany, James managed that task masterfully.
During the mid-1990s to the early/mid-2000s, Club Epiphany held its own both as a restaurant and as one of the hottest nightspots in the city. Often referred to as, “The heartbeat of our community,” it was no strange thing to see celebrities passing through on any given night.
James notes that, “Anyone in town would pass by Epiphany.”
Entertainers frequented a space they knew to be safe and had great vibes; mix that with outstanding music plus excellent, authentic Caribbean food and a hub for the Caribbean masses is created.
James, who has roots in the hospitality industry, says of Club Epiphany’s esteem: “Its reputation exceeded even what I expected.”
Many have wondered why Club Epiphany, a space alive with the spirit of the islands, closed its doors. The answer is simple enough.
“The club consumed me,” James says simply. Needing to employ a fulltime nanny, James says she wanted to be a present parent for her children. With a restaurant opening at 9 am and club closing at 2 am—17 hours later—the desire to play a more active role in her family easily triumphed.
James recounts that just soccer practice and games alone, required five days per week, including weekends.
A soccer lover herself, the effervescent entrepreneur did not simply vanish into the quiet Toronto night of failed or closed businesses. People that know her are aware of James’ passion for soccer.
With FIFA World Cup 2014 in full swing, Pride News visited the restaurant, Epiphany, to have a look around and taste some of its good food. James says that the “World Cup is good for business.”
The restaurant boasts three TVs where customers can enjoy the World Cup to their leisure. Though Club Epiphany is no more, James is still in the business of making sure that she takes care of each customer. Suffice it to say, the restaurant still dishes out outstanding cuisine that can easily be served at any fine hotel.
World Cup fever has brought with it, specials to help customers relax even more than they already do. When dining in the restaurant patrons can enjoy the wing special at 25 percent off and the famous homemade fruit-punch (which can also be adjusted to rum-punch) also at 25 percent off.
When—not if, when—you go by, tell them that Pride News sent you. By all means take advantage of the daily lunch specials between 11:30 and 2:30 starting at under $5.00—drinks are separate.
Always keeping the customer in mind, Epiphany also offers a Wednesday Wings and Festivals Special. Those dining in, can purchase wings at the ridiculously low cost of only $0.50 each.
Whenever you decide to pay Epiphany a visit you will be greeted with the steady rhythms that made it a hotspot; the weekend is reserved for partying. Catering to a mature clientele, Friday through Sunday sees the introduction of a live DJ, spinning the tunes that will make you want to return each week for more.
The Friday’s ‘after-work jam’ starts at 6pm and goes until midnight, with Saturdays following a similar pattern. Sundays are a treat with ‘oldies but goodies’; the evening includes a complimentary barbeque between 5 and 9pm.
What is certain is that James is still in the business of creating smiles by serving an experience not soon to be forgotten. Perhaps the reason for James’ success is in the “food cooked with love.” Perhaps it is something else entirely.
“The diversity of our menu pleases everybody,” says James. Along with traditional Caribbean fare, Epiphany’s menu is also home to calamari, tofu and various Oriental dishes. James, who says she “loves to cook,” is careful to add her own unique flare to create a winning dish.
An island girl at heart, James says her favourite dish to prepare is fish (this writer suggests you try the fish!)
Epiphany offers that palate experience through its catering arm. In addition to regular restaurant activities, catering is also very much a part of the new Epiphany brand.
Offering free Wi-Fi service to customers, Epiphany Restaurant is located at 111 Millwick Drive (Unit 6) in North York. It may be contacted at 416-740-2225; or visit its website: www.epiphanyfoods.ca.