Food + Drink

November 15, 2017

Spotlight: Sarah Huggins from Mary Be Kitchen


Whole food for the soul is the philosophy behind Mary Be Kitchen, Yonge + St. Clair’s newest restaurant. With a strong emphasis on health, wellness, and community, we think they make a perfect addition to the neighbourhood.

We asked co-founder Sarah Huggins to tell us more about this philosophy, how the restaurant came to be, and why they chose Yonge + St. Clair. Find out more below.

What is your professional background?

I am a lawyer by training and spent 10 years practicing law at a large law firm downtown before going to work in-house at the Toronto International Film Festival. In my free time I developed recipes, photographed food and kept a food blog that chronicled my (mis) adventures in feeding my family.

Tell us about the story of Mary Be Kitchen and how the name came to be.

Mary Be Kitchen is an homage to healthful home cooking; it’s the kind of food we would all cook and eat at home if only we had the time to do so. Lots of roasted veggies, leafy greens, whole grain salads, stews, antibiotic and hormone free grilled chicken, organic grilled tofu and comforting stews. So we thought it was fitting to give it a feminine persona, and we named it after my grandmother Mary.

Why did you choose Yonge + St. Clair?

We live in the neighbourhood with our family, and wanted to create the type of place that we felt was missing in the area. The kind of place we would want to go to on a regular basis, not just to eat but to drink great coffee and tea (we pour Pilot brew and espresso and Genuine Teas), have a glass of local wine or craft beer, meet a friend or colleagues, read a newspaper over weekend brunch, or get some work done. I see it as a bit of a community hub for the area, and I love that our guests are already coming in and using it for that purpose. For me it’s more than just another restaurant; it’s a gathering space, a meeting room and a community resource.

The fact that the intersection is undergoing a huge refreshment right now is just the icing on the cake for us. We are so excited to be part of revitalizing this awesome part of the City’s history. Many people would know that this is the site of the original Fran’s restaurant (for 61 years, in fact). We had a fellow in for lunch the other day who told me he worked the grill here back in the 50s. This was the hottest place in town in those days, and we hope it will be again.

Your menu looks incredible. What is the philosophy behind it?

We call it “whole food for the soul.” Good for you, but free of the diets, gimmicks, fads and labels that can be intimidating for people. It’s the kind of food you can eat every day and feel healthy and satisfied, not deprived. It’s a sustainable and joyful way to be and to eat.

Tell us more about the architects who designed the interior (which looks fabulous by the way!)

We worked with Reflect Architecture — Trevor Wallace and his colleague Sonja Tijanic. They designed a couple of great downtown restaurant spaces (Wilbur and Quantum Coffee among them). As midtowners, we were constantly lamenting that we had to travel downtown to find cool spaces to eat and hang out, so we wanted to bring a little of that downtown experience uptown. I hope we succeeded.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Sarah!


21B St. Clair Avenue West
Weekdays 8AM-9PM
Weekends 9AM-3PM


photography: Cameron Bartlett