Coming and going

Quinpool Road lost a dining mainstay when the Athens closed.

Halifax’s dining scene has been in flux since the pandemic began

A year-and-a-half of change fills the city’s dining scene, and it’s more than masking up to head inside. Behind the host who checks your proof of vaccination and reminds you to leave your contact tracing details, there’s an entire industry in upheaval. Some restaurants have crumbled, others have switched things up, and they’re all navigating pandemic challenges, new competition, and diners’ fast shifting preferences.

What we’ve lost

Some of Halifax’s most familiar favourites turned their ovens off for good during the pandemic. With lockdowns, rental spikes, and trouble finding workers, the dining industry has had a run for its money —and some have decided to leave with the bill. Cheers to the bites that Haligonians will surely miss.

WATER AND BONE (2016–2021) 
5687 Charles St.
Ramen house
When the pandemic struck, Water and Bone owner Jamie MacAulay closed his ramen restaurant on Charles Street. Rather than opening it again, he launched a new restaurant: Coda Ramen at 2157 Gottingen St., writing on the restaurant’s website, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I need to be.” But the new venture couldn’t weather the COVID storm either, closing for good earlier this year.

ATHENS FAMILY RESTAURANT (1982–2021)
6273 Quinpool Rd.
Greek cuisine 
Best known for: Weekend brunch

THE SUBMARINE (1975–2020)
5384 Ingis St. 
Subs, sandwiches, and Lebanese cuisine
Best known for: Donair subs

THE FICKLE FROG PUB (2000–2020)
5675 Spring Garden Rd.
Pub grub
Best known for: Wild yellow amberjack 

What we’ve gained
Amidst the gloom, some restaurateurs see opportunity. Meet these brave newcomers. 

QUINN’S ARMS
6285 Quinpool Rd.
British gastropub 
Must try: Sunday roast 

THE FEASTS
6293 Quinpool Rd.
Indian, Thai, and Korean cuisine 
Must try: Biryani

BUSAN KOREAN BBQ
6311 Quinpool Rd.
Korean Barbecue
Must try: Bibimbab 

What’s changed
For restaurateurs with changes in the works, the pandemic offered a chance to pause and reset. As you return to the dining scene, you’ll find some old favourites have a new look.

LION’S HEAD TAVERN 
3085 Robie St.
Classic pub-style cuisine 
What’s changed: Gone is the dark and gloomy dining room, the scene of so many half-remembered karaoke nights. Lion’s Head Tavern took it up a notch (literally) with a new rooftop patio, but didn’t move too far. The new location is shining at the corner of Robie and Young, adjacent to the old site.

BUD THE SPUD
Downtown Halifax
The original food truck
What’s changed: Since the 1970s, Bud the Spud has been a Halifax mainstay. Not only is it where you’ll find the best fries, it’s also a harbinger of summer. Leonard True (who died in 2020) launched the food truck, but Buds come and go — since then it’s passed through many hands. No one knows yet what next summer holds for it, but there will be another change. The latest owner, Jody LeBlanc, recently sold 

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