An elevated, fast-casual restaurant creating plant-based pizza and ice-cream opens its first location in Toronto. With three existing restaurants in Western Canada and the United States, the expansion eastward proves that Virtuous Pie is accelerating the availability of a plant-based menu throughout North America.
The interior design translates Virtuous Pie’s core values of supporting the local community and a healthy planet. Materials and finishes are designed to reflect the neighbourhood vernacular and a seamless connection is made between the indoors and out.
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Virtuous Pie chose the vibrant and diverse community known as Little Italy on College Street West for its first Toronto location. The neighbourhood’s rich cultural history and mixture of architectural styles inform the design of the interior; a space that is reflective of, and integrates into, the existing community.
Pizza making is front and center with an open kitchen and exposed pizza oven anchoring the 1370 square foot interior. Diners can pick up an order from the twenty-foot bar or dine in at various seating configurations throughout the restaurant.
The entryway of the restaurant serves as a portal to emphasize the fluidity between the exterior and interior spaces. A garage door takes the place of the front window, opening in temperate months to eliminate any barriers between environments. The communal table extends from the interior to the exterior seating areas to complete the integration.
Materials and finish play a critical role in emphasizing the values of the brand. Sky blue in the entryway mimics a clear day to elicit feelings of contentment and well-being associated with experiencing an idyllic day outdoors. Charred wood, a finish reminiscent of the pizza making process, is used throughout the space; as platters on which pizzas are served and as cladding on the ceiling and exterior façade, further eliminating the transition between interior and exterior space.
Natural stones, metal, and wood are layered together to mimic the varied materiality found throughout the neighbourhood. The use of contrasting linear and curvilinear forms further reference this variation. A panelled wood wall features patterning reminiscent of brick details commonly seen in neighbouring architecture.
Seating is provided at the front window for an open-air experience and engagement with the outdoor patio during the summer months. A combination of fixed booths and individual tables, which can be configured for single or communal seating provides a flexible dining experience.
Lighting, artwork and graphic wayfinding, are used to reinforce the brand, support the local community, and foster inclusivity. At the restaurant entry, circular artwork by Toronto artist Kal Mansur supports and reflects the local creative community. Gender neutral bathrooms are provided alongside custom graphics for wayfinding. Inside the bathrooms, a custom light fixture in a triangle configuration references a pie shape, a playful nod to the brand's logo.
The use and placement of greenery is an essential element in the design referencing the plant-based menu and blurring the boundaries of interior and exterior environments. Cascading plant tendrils emanate from various locations at ceiling height diffusing the light and casting shadows onto surrounding surfaces.