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Our Story

The History of the Festival and the Organization that Runs it

History

The Pilaros Taste of the Danforth was initially modeled on the enormously successful "Taste of Chicago". It began as a celebration of Hellenic cuisine and culture. It has grown to become a celebration of both its Greek heritage and the multicultural nature of the City of Toronto. While a number of events and programs are reflective of the area`s Greek roots, the Festival programming and its audience have grown to encompass a much broader spectrum of the Toronto community.

The Festival began in 1994 when a group of restaurateurs on the Danforth were trying to figure out how they could entice people to come to the Danforth and enjoy their amazing Greek cuisine. They decided that rather than advertising individually, they would be better off pooling their resources and advertising together. Rather than suggesting that potential visitors come to eat at one restaurant over another, they decided to set up “tasting” tables - so that individuals could try food fare from a number of restaurants.

In the first year, approximately 5,000 people attended the Festival. Twenty-three restaurateurs participated, selling an eclectic mix of "tastes" from tasting tables. The following year, attendance grew to 100,000. By 1996, the Festival was so large that the Danforth had to be officially closed, so as to accommodate over 500,000 visitors. Today, the Festival has grown to approximately 1.3 million visitors, during the course of three days and two nights. They come to enjoy food, entertainment and culture. The Pilaros Taste of the Danforth is one of Toronto`s signature events, showcasing the best our multicultural city has to offer from music to the arts and from sports to food.

The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA

The Festival is run by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA.

The concept of a Business Improvement Area was created in Toronto, but BIAs can now be found all over the world. In 1970, merchants in Bloor West Village formed the first BIA in response to competition from shopping centers. Toronto currently has 72 BIAs, representing more than 32,000 commercial property owners and tenants. The number is still growing.

The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA is an excellent example of how a BIA can unite local restaurateurs and retailers along a street to promote businesses. The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA is a not-for-profit organization, run by a volunteer board, chaired by Constantine Voidonicolas.

GreekTown Gives Back to the Community.

The Festival combines exquisite food, culture and music with extraordinary philanthropy to benefit the local community. Over the years, GreekTown has donated more than $1.5 million to Toronto East General Hospital. Most recently, in 2012, GreekTown generously donated $250,000 to the hospital to enhance pediatric care. This past year, GreekTown also donated two $5,000 SmartBoards to local schools, William McCordic School and William Burgess School, for children with special needs.

The 7th annual Danforth Dash Bed Race is back and takes place on Friday, August 9th to kick-off the Festival. The race runs from 1:00pm to 2:00pm and is scheduled to take place just east of Broadview.  Local businesses, the hospital’s Emergency Services and the media will be competing to see who can win the 2013 Golden Bed Pan Trophy.  For further information, visit http://foundation.tegh.on.ca.

Big Economic Impact for Toronto

In 2010, the Festival conducted an Economic Impact Study.  It was determined that the Pilaros Taste of the Danforth made a significant impact on the local economy that year, generating $32 million in economic activity.  Event-related spending alone supported the equivalent of 158 full-year jobs in a single weekend.  The Festival also generated approximately $4 million in tax revenue. Since then, the Festival has only grown.

The Festival's title sponsor is Pilaros International Trading Inc., a leading importer of Mediterranean food products, primarily olives and olive oil, what the ancient Greeks refer to as "the Essence of Life".
The Pilaros Taste of the Danforth is also supported by the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation, Celebrate Ontario and Canadian Heritage.

Torontonians love the Festival. In fact, in 2012, our satisfaction score was at 97%, and 93% of respondents said that they would be returning this year in 2013.