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The exterior of the House of Chan restaurant on Eglinton Avenue West (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
The exterior of the House of Chan restaurant on Eglinton Avenue West (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)


A look back at 50 years of the iconic House of Chan Add to ...

I don’t think she’s changed a damned thing. The menu’s the same, the curtains are the same, the carpet’s the same, the pretzels that are sitting on the bar are the same. It’s completely old-school, and that’s a great thing. I think the water in the lobster tank’s the same.

– Barry Avrich, film producer and director

Most people call it “The Chan,” or “Chan.” But nobody has ever asked me who Chan was. Who was Chan? Nobody! Chan really isn’t a person. It just sounded Chinese.

– Penny Lyons, current owner

Never mind the expression “comfort food.” This was a comfort place. This was a comfortable place. And it was always like that. The place was always like it is.

– Eddie Greenspan

We have great-grandparents coming in with their great-grandchildren, and they’ve been coming into Chan for years and years, their grandparents would bring them in. It’s a huge following of many of the same people, and then a lot of professionals, sports people. There was a big retirement party for Richard Peddie [the outgoing MLSE chairman]there last night: Brian Burke, Bryan Colangelo. Oh, it was fabulous!

– Penny Lyons

At a public meeting on Nov. 28, a TTC official announced that several businesses near Bathurst and Eglinton, including the House of Chan, would need to be demolished in 2014 to make way for a station for the new crosstown Eglinton-Scarborough line. The land where the Chan stands is slated to become a secondary entrance and substation for the Bathurst stop.

I heard it from a customer of ours. He was in the public meeting that night. Halfway through the meeting, he called me – he was shocked. I got the news on Monday, and Tuesday was my day off. And Wednesday I saw Penny, I told her. She said, “That’s why I’m standing at the bar, drinking.” She was a little upset then.

– Peter Pau, House of Chan manager, employee since 1981

I read it in a community newspaper. I read it and the bottom of my heart fell out. I couldn’t believe it. Somebody couldn’t even send us a notice at the restaurant that they were thinking about demolishing us?

I made a few phone calls. I’m in the middle of something right now so I don’t want to say too much about it, but we’ll either close shop or we’ll relocate. But it looks for sure as though Chan will be demolished to make way for the new exit. The entrance is going to be on the northeast corner where the doughnut shop is. I get the exit.

So many customers have been coming in now, they say, “You’ve got to move, it doesn’t matter where, we’ll follow you.” You know?

I personally think that it should look as similar as possible, especially the red booths down both sides, people just love that. Plus the tables down the middle. I would like to see it look very, very similar. I know the food’s going to be the same, and the waiters will be the same, so all of that will be very, very helpful. But if it also looks the same I think people are going to like it. It’ll feel like a new Chan.

– Penny Lyons


I started going there when I was, oh man, after school, in high school. I only ever wanted to go to the House of Chan after school, and the poison of choice was egg-drop soup and egg rolls. We could never have afforded a dish, and it wasn’t dinner so you didn’t need a dish anyway. It was a snack. Chan was a nasty, slightly mildewy, cheap, crappy Chinese restaurant. No one with any kind of food taste went there for dinner. Going to Chan for dinner was something that people who didn’t know anything about food did.

– Joanne Kates, restaurant critic

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