Within the first 48 hours of Canada slipping into a pandemic-induced lockdown, Charles Khabouth had to close more than 20 bars, clubs and restaurants he owns in Toronto and Montreal, lay off 2,600 employees, pull the plug on multiple construction projects and cancel some of the most popular summer festivals in both cities.
He alternates between sounding stunned, dejected and hopeful when talking about the plight of Ink Entertainment, a company he founded 36 years ago that has, to a large extent, been responsible for crafting the sleek, exclusive, corporate-but-fun, ritzy-but-arrogant vibe of Toronto’s entertainment and clubbing districts.
“Shocking, sad, draining, straining: I don’t have a good adjective for this, let’s put it that way,” he said over the phone from his penthouse unit in Bisha Hotel, the company’s “crown jewel” in downtown Toronto that opened just two years ago.
“We’ve been moving very fast lately, we’ve had a lot of projects in the works and for that to come to a halt in just a few days is just sad. I’m sad.”