Local businesses preparing for 'more mellow' TIFF as Hollywood strikes continue

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TORONTO — When the Toronto International Film Festival rolls around each year, few people are as busy as Charles Khabouth.

The nightlife impresario owns the Bisha Hotel and more than a dozen restaurants and clubs where the likes of Margot Robbie, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Javier Bardem have reportedly sipped wine, rubbed elbows or partied in recent years.

The tempered expectations have come from twin Hollywood strikes that have halted film and television productions and scuttled press junkets, red carpets and star powered-premieres as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America hit the picket lines over the spring and summer.

Many expect a good turnout from foreign and Canadian stars falling outside the strike rules but are bracing for smaller crowds as Hollywood hitmakers stay home. "We even post memos inside the restaurant saying please don't take time off. These are the two busiest weeks of the year." The company's two restaurants, Coffee Oysters Champagne across from Roy Thomson Hall and Marked by the Scotiabank Theatre, already have reservations for parties celebrating German and Canadian films, intimate directors' dinners and a return visit from a large Australian group.The hospitality business’s largest booking this TIFF is for 230 guests, down from the 500-person parties it hosted last year.

Erin Breckbill, vice-president of sales and marketing for Peter & Paul’s Hospitality Group, attributed the Greek restaurant's forthcoming busyness to her company being one of TIFF's official hospitality partners and the host of RBC House, a top party spot the festival's lead sponsor hosts annually.

Source: Entertainment Trends (entertainmenttrends.net)


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