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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Food Court at Yorkdale

Today my daughter has errands to run at Toronto's Yorkdale Mall - if, she tells me, we can find a parking space.  (Indeed, as we passed it enroute from the airport on Sunday morning, cars waiting to enter the Mall were lined up for several blocks along the approaching street.)  But on this gray, November Monday afternoon we are fortunate, and quickly find a convenient space in the well-lit cream colored underground garage.  No dreary concrete gray here.
The mall is a testament to the term 'upscale,' both in terms of shop ownership as well as in description of the physical space.  There are shops whose names I usually only read in magazines, upscale, and airplane magazines: Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Holt Renfrew,  _(kitchens)__, you name it.  Shops whose wares are top of the line, wares sometimes funky, but not always discernible from those you'd find at Target, Kohl's, Penney's or, face it, Walmart ...except for the price tag.  The walkways are generous, and generously filled with shoppers, or folks sitting on ample benches deployed among banks of the season's poinsettias.  Storefronts are of ubiquitous mall floor-to-ceiling glass, floor-to-ceiling of the store, that is, with marble continuing the wall up to soaring ceilings. Walls and floors, ceiling, all light colored, and well let as well.  Plenty of eye candy at every turn.
The shoppers, however, are a testament to Toronto's identity as a multicultural mecca, and folks of every color and description sit down together to satisfy their appetites at Yorkdale's white color-themed, food court.  Opened just last summer, the airy, open sided third floor ellipse is reachable by polished steel elevator (out of order today) or sleek escalators rising to second and third floor spaces overlooking the main level of the mall.  Supposedly there is a table reservation service, but while we were there, we and other folks found our places easily enough on our own.
At least nineteen restaurants surrounding the ellipse offered foods from around the world, and each of them was doing a brisk business at one-thirty when we arrived.  (Perhaps a smaller section nestled between two of the restaurants was the reserved area.) I perused the offerings from one Greek and two Chinese eateries before settling on barbecued pork and veggie noodles from the latter.  There were short, fast moving lines at each restaurant, where three to four polite and efficient servers tended the drink dispensers, and cash register and counter, which another one or two constantly replenished with food fresh from their kitchen.  Diners could choose between eat in or take-out, disposable or real cutlery.
A shoulder-height white wall ran here and there between the counters and the thousand seat eating area, where white tables bore inscriptions reminding customers to return (white plastic) trays to the white tray counter, where a woman cleared and stacked trays and dishes for a runner to trundle to wherever they were to be washed.  Italian designer chairs with black seats, fortuitously sturdy and comforting to my arthritic bones, lent a subtle air, while gray benches flanked both sides of the white half-walls.
People watching was as satisfying as the meal, and I settled down to do just that as daughter set out on more errands than I needed to know.
Next to me sat a middle aged white man finishing his lunch, on the other side an Asian woman of about the same age and occupation.  A well built young security guard passed by, eyes ahead, subtly adjusting what must have been a bullet proof vest by slight movements of his shoulders. What must've been copious tattoos just peeked out from under his short sleeved shirt.  Slender young women in black and jeans walked or stood with studied unconcern on tall, black, high heeled boots.  An Afro beauty with both pompadour sporting a burst of miniature braids, scanned the menu board same as anyone else.  A middle-aged blonde found an open space, and glided by on her motorized chair, smoother and faster than many of the walkers, dipped in closer to read a menu, zipped on the the next place.  Young couples with babies in carriers or strollers, hopeful-faced toddlers in the mall's bright red signature strollers, grandparents with no other agenda than to not worry, and be happy, sometimes with each other, sometimes just a grandmother with children (usually a daughter) and grandchildren in tow, young men in a variety of guises...some 'just guys' laughing and moving toward their choices with ease, some business-world hopefuls in suits fitted at the waist, a predominance of dark, if not black hair, skin of every color.
A slender maintenance woman with a huge roll of toilet paper under one arm would periodically pass
me, pushing a slender mop in a single line, round and round the ellipse.  A young blonde mother carefully positions a blanketed carriage near the couple's selected table, where the dad soon appears with their lunch as she peeps under the blanket to reassure herself before sitting down with apparent pleasure.  An Asian mother carries her tiny baby in a front-carrier while she pushes the stroller, apparently re-thinking the weight of motherhood and how irrevocably her life has recently changed.  A quintet of young adults walk in talking and laughing of the guys stops to stare at the variety of restaurants, while a young woman in the group continues talked as she scans one whole side of the ellipse in a single glance.  They move as one to the chosen venue.
The tone is busy, purposeful, upbeat, satisfied.  An ambience like a busy bazaar in most any place in the world.  A pleasant place, the pleasing company of people on a common mission, a pleasant way to spent an afternoon.

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