Your guide to star-spotting at INK venues during TIFF ’19

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is back for 2019 and a star-studded list of guests will flood the city for the festival’s 10-day duration. With TIFF comes the parties, events and interviews, which means the city will be on high alert for the best in celebrity sightings. INK Entertainment venues have been known to host a celebrity or two, so here are a few places in Toronto for your best chance at star-spotting.

Bisha Hotel & Residence

Home to the IMDB Studio at the Visa Infinite Lounge in previous years, Bisha is no stranger to a celebrity or two. The hotel hosts the world’s trendiest guests on the regular and the lobby bar – Mister C – been home to a few pre and after parties for TIFF films. Stars spotted in the past include Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney and Greta Gerwig.


Akira Back

Located on the second floor of Bisha Hotel, Michelin-star chef Akira Back, the buzz worthy menu, private dining room and cool decor designed by Studio Munge is enough to draw any celebrity in. Canadian icons Ben and Jessica Mulroney are loyal patrons of the restaurant, as well as Jessica Biel and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been spotted indulging in Back’s signature dishes.



The rooftop restaurant – located on the 44th floor of Bisha Hotel – has unparalleled views of Toronto and was recently dubbed the city’s best patio by BlogTO. Already a popular and Instagrammable destination for locals and tourists, you can bet the stars will want to take in the views and fresh menu, like Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Geena Davis and Martin Short have done.


Sofia Restaurant & Bar

While it may not be located right in the heart of TIFF action, Sofia is a pearl nestled in Yorkville and secluded from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The fine-dining destination offers Italian-inspired cuisine and a menu curated by executive chef Rob LeClair. The luxe space holds the charm of modern dining with a dash of Hollywood glamour, as well as a private outdoor patio – This checks every box for a TIFF event. Stars spotted in past include Drake, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum and Dan Aykroyd.


Byblos Downtown / STORYs Toronto

Byblos and STORYs are staple spots for star-spotting during TIFF. Byblos – the award-winning Eastern Mediterranean restaurant – has celebrities flocking each night to get a taste of the incredible menu, as well as being host to a few after parties. Sharing the same space, STORYs has been home to many a pre or post screening party, as well as the RBC Lounge. Stars spotted in the past include Jessica Chastain, Brie Larson, Emma Stone, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey and Bryan Cranston.



Patria is the ultimate spot on King West for private dining and party experiences for TIFF events. The Barcelona inspired restaurant is discreetly tucked away and boasts impressive Spanish flavoured menu items. It has also has been host to a bevy of premiere parties, including an appearance by Ryan Gosling.



You cannot miss the big yellow doors when you’re walking down King Street – and neither can the biggest names in Hollywood. Weslodge has been the host to many a TIFF event and has had stars such as Richard Gere and Gary Oldman spotted inside. Matthew McConaughey even booked out the venue last year for an invite-only tasting of his Wild Turkey whisky.


Spoke Club

The exclusive members-only club has hosted many galas and premiere parties in the past. Now under the helm of INK Entertainment, Spoke Club boasts a newly renovated private rooftop patio and bar that will be idea for all A-list guests seeking the most exclusive events. Stars spotted in the past include Penelope Cruz, Bradley Cooper, Woody Harrelson and Gael Garcia Bernal.

INK Entertainment goes green with the gaarden

INK Entertainment just announced its latest partnership with Hoegaarden, a refreshing Belgian wheat beer made with orange peel, by bringing a taste of the tropics to Queen Street West. The gaarden will be Toronto’s go-to rooftop beer garden patio with lush greenery encasing the space, as well as views of the city’s skyline and the perfect place to soak up the sun.

The gaarden will offer shareable light bites and cocktail menu curated by expert mixologist Nishan Nepulongoda. The beverages will feature fresh ingredients and include patio favourites such as frosé, pina coladas, a jalapeno margarita, a new spin on a Caesar and a beer cocktail, plus Hoegaarden on tap.

“The gaarden offers a whole new energy to Queen Street West,” says Charles Khabouth, CEO, INK Entertainment. “It is the perfect place to take a midday break from shopping along Queen West or to enjoy Toronto’s summer nights.”

Launched June 7th, the gaarden will be open to the public Wednesday to Saturday from 4PM to late. It will feature communal tables with high-top chairs, a 20-seat bar and private booths with bottle service available.

Check out the gaarden online at or on Instagram at @thegaardento. Please enjoy responsibly.


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Weslodge wins Best Restaurant in Dubai

Congratulations are in order for the team at Weslodge Dubai and the JW Marriott Marquis as they have just topped Lovin’ Dubai‘s list of 25 Best Restaurants. INK Entertainment‘s lone property in Dubai is among some of the top names in hospitality: Nobu inside the Atlantis, Armani Amal located in Downtown Dubai, Hakkasan at Atlantis, The Palm – Just to name a few.

Located on the 65th floor of the hotel, Weslodge has a breathtaking view of Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa. The restaurant gives tourists and locals a taste for modern Canadian comfort food, as well as the signature cocktails that makes Weslodge here in Toronto stand out.

To see the full list and to learn more about Weslodge Dubai, head to Lovin’ Dubai’s article here.

ICONINK readies for warm weather with Summer Series launch

ICONINK announced today its brand new Summer Series that will take place inside Toronto’s hottest dining destinations during the city’s favourite season.

“Entertaining our guests with unique and inventive experiences is our ultimate objective,” Hanif Harji, CEO, ICONINK. “Our Summer Series was specifically designed as an opportunity for our guests to enjoy our restaurants in memorable ways, including wine events, hands-on culinary classes, special spirit tastings, and more.”

Launching at the end of April, the Summer Series events will take place at ICONINK restaurants and patios:

  • An intimate evening at Mediterranean outpost Byblos Uptown (2537 Yonge Street) on Tuesday April 30th hosted in partnership with esteemed Lebanese winery, Chateau Musar. For $155.00, only 45 guests will have an opportunity to try a delicious five-course prix fixe menu by corporate executive chef Ben Heaton with back vintage Chateau Musar wine pairings. Dinner reservations are for 7PM and tickets are available through the restaurant.
  • A special dinner at the Italian-inspired FIGO (295 Adelaide Street West) hosted by Prince Edward County’s very own mother-daughter duo from Grange of Prince Edward on Tuesday May 7th . Compelling conversation and story telling will be complimented by refreshing VQA wines and chef Ben Heaton’s four-course prix fixe menu. A perfect way to celebrate mom, the event starts at 7PM and tickets are available for $85.
  • Back by popular demand, Patria’s (478 King Street West) paella party will be hitting the streets of King West this summer with personal size paella’s available for purchase.
  • For the first time ever, an intimate group of guests will have the opportunity to make their own croissants at French Made inside the Bisha Hotel (80 Blue Jays Way). Dates and further details for these events to be announced soon!


To learn more about ICONINK and its restaurants, head to

STORYS Building partners with Street Haven for lunch & bingo event

This week, the team at The STORYS Building were joined by the women of Street Haven for lunch and bingo. A local organization offering women in need of emergency support, housing, addiction services and learning resources, these ladies were treated to a well deserved day of fun and relaxation.
We extend thanks to our generous sponsors at Shoppers Drug Mart, Joe Fresh, Woodward Farms, Essence, Kaf and Mister Produce who made this event possible.

INK Entertainment to open two new restaurants at Celino South Beach Hotel

INK Entertainment is proud to announce the opening of two new culinary concepts – designed by Navigate – inside the new luxury boutique hotel, Celino South Beach, located on Ocean Drive in Miami, Florida. Alongside the property’s unveiling in April 2019, Patrick Ochs, the renowned Corporate Executive Chef for INK Entertainment USA, will launch his Italian concept, Pubblica Italiana, alongside Dalia, his latest Mediterranean venture.

Both restaurants, as well as all in-room dining, poolside dining services and hotel bars, will be managed and operated by INK Entertainment and will be its second largest project in South Florida – the first being the highly celebrated and successful Byblos inside the Royal Palm Hotel.

“We are thrilled to expand our culinary portfolio in Miami in partnership with Ricardo Tabet and Optimum Development,” said Charles Khabouth, Founder and CEO of INK Entertainment. “We are looking forward to making Celino South Beach a true culinary destination that we have no doubt will completely revolutionize Ocean Drive with exceptional class, cuisine and design.”

Inside Pubblica Italiana, Italian-inspired cuisine will meet locally sourced, high-quality ingredients. Rich flavours commands the menu and highlights handmade artisanal breads and pastas set to impress future patrons. An extensive wine list will feature the highest grade selections reputable wineries from around the world. The bright and contemporary interior compliments the modern sophistication and old-world aesthetic, as well as the balance of food, culture and design inside the space.

Dalia and its menu will bring some of the Mediterranean’s most celebrated delicacies South Beach. Described as simple and elegant, Dalia will apply a modern approach to classic dishes; with chefs visible in the kitchen, alongside an illuminated display of fresh oysters and an authentic wood-fired oven. The extensive drink menu will feature cocktails, as well as carefully curated list of international wines to compliment the seafood-centric fare.

“I am extremely eager to announce this partnership with INK Entertainment, who’s two new culinary conceptions will infuse originality, passion and world-renowned cuisine into our newest property in Miami’s most iconic locale,” said Ricardo Tabet, Co-Founder and CEO of Optimum Group. “We aim to bring an entirely new lifestyle of indulgence to South Beach with the Celino project, ensuring unparalleled accommodations, exquisite globally-influenced dining options and a genuine luxurious guest experience to help revive the street as an authentic hotspot once again”.

The restaurants, courtyard and cocktail bar will be located at The Celino South Beach, opening Spring 2019, on 640 Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida. For more information, head to


Charles Khabouth reveals secrets to sartorial success in Forbes interview

Following his EY Entrepreneur of the Year win in the Entertainment and Hospitality sector, CEO and Founder Charles Khabouth sat down with Forbes to discuss INK Entertainment and its properties, his legacy in Toronto’s hospitality industry and all things fashion. 

To read more about Charles, his favourite designers and the success of INK properties, head to the full interview here.

Photo by Jesse Milns for Forbes.

Byblos Uptown set to open December 6th 2018

Hanif Harji, hospitality leader and CEO of ICONINK, and Charles Khabouth, Chairman of ICONINK, are pleased to announce Byblos Uptown – the third location of the brand and first uptown venture for ICONINK – will open to the public on Thursday, December 6th 2018. The new Byblos location will be at the helm of ICONINK Executive Chef Ben Heaton (Patria, Estia, Weslodge, La Societe, Sofia and KOST). 

Similar to its downtown Toronto and Miami locations, Byblos Uptown will be rooted in the cultural and regional mosaic of the Eastern Mediterranean with the sharing style menu extending the brand’s culinary philosophy. Guests can expect to see favourites Turkish manti dumplings, house-made labneh and wood-fired pides on the menu, plus new savoury dishes such as m’taabal, ras el hanout black cod and ora king salmon. A wide selection of local wines, beers and signature cocktails will be available to compliment all dishes.

“We wanted to expand our reach in the city and open a location in Toronto’s north end,” said Charles Khabouth, Chairman, ICONINK. “Not only is this a great opportunity for us to further develop our brand and establish roots in this vibrant neighbourhood, it allows our culinary team to explore new menu ideas that expand our culinary offering,” explained Hanif Harji, CEO, ICONINK.

Transforming the space from previous brand North44 is longtime interior design partner and award-winning firm Studio Munge. “Immersive scale and artisanal touches define Byblos Uptown,” says Alessandro Munge, Principal, Studio Munge. “Where traditional technique meets modern form, guests enter through a 19-foot archway and are embraced by graphic handmade tapestries from Marrakech, woven light fixtures, and dozens of authentic Persian rugs.”

Byblos Uptown will be open seven days a week: Sunday to Wednesday 5pm to 11pm and Thursday to Saturday 5pm to 1am. For more information and reservations, head to the Experience Byblos website.

Sofia Restaurant & Bar wins Mark McEwan pasta taste test

Chef Mark McEwan partnered with Post City this month to taste test Toronto’s best hand-crafted ravioli and agnolotti. Sofia Restaurant & Bar had some stiff competition – including runner-up La Palma, Piano Piano, Terroni & many more – but INK Entertainment’s own came out on top!

As stated in the Post City article, McEwan loved the ricotta-stuffed dish – by head chef Rob LeClair – with chanterelles, hazelnuts and black truffles. “I really like the combination, really elegant and simple, as pasta should be.”

To try the Agnolotti Al Tartofo for yourself, reservations can made via Sofia’s website. Sofia Restaurant & Bar is located at 99 Yorkville Ave.

Gabrielle Union celebrates birthday at Byblos Miami

Actress, activist and author Gabrielle Union celebrated her 46th birthday this past weekend inside Byblos Miami. The event had an old school hip-hop theme with guests dressing in attire to match. Union celebrated with her spouse and NBA player Dwayne Wade, family, friends such as Fat Joe, plus a surprise performance by rapper Lil Kim.

Check out highlights from the party below.

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To book your next event or make a reservation at Byblos Miami, head to their website