Collingwood hotspot, The Pine, coming to Creemore

 In Business

Five days a week, Cassie and Jeremy Austin work in their Collingwood restaurant, The Pine. Since opening in August 2020, they have amassed a loyal following. In their first year of operation they were ranked #51 on the list of Canada’s Best 100 restaurants. Last year, they moved up to #47.

These days the Austins spend most of their remaining time preparing to launch another new venture. In the spring of 2024, they plan to open The Pine, Creemore in the former gas station on County Road 9 at the north end of Mill Street.

Cassie and Jeremy met more than 15 years ago when they both worked at a restaurant in Thornbury. They went on to study at George Brown College in Toronto – Jeremy in Culinary Arts and Cassie in Food and Beverage Management. For the next several years, they travelled the globe, honing their skills. Jeremy made stops at the W Hotel in Montreal, then worked with a Michelin-starred chef in Italy. The pair moved to China where they worked in Wuxi, Hong Kong and Shanghai. When they decided it was time to come home, they wanted a place that would be close to nature and quality local ingredients, and landed at Cassie’s parents’ farm near Maxwell. For two months, they operated a pop-up restaurant with 12 seats at a giant outdoor harvest table. They called it The Pine, in recognition of the forested surroundings. Based on the success of that venture they were inspired to try a bricks and mortar location in Collingwood.

The Pine, Collingwood is an intimate spot offering a 17-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The focus is on local ingredients sourced from suppliers like Royal Acres, Harvest Moon, New Life, Dragon Acres and the Good Family Farm. Each week one to three dishes on the menu are changed so that every two months, it’s a whole new menu. This spring, the Collingwood location will transition to become Mocking Bird, featuring eight shared-plate dinners of regional Chinese cuisine. The tasting menu will move to Creemore.

“When we opened a 12-seat tasting restaurant with counter seating in Collingwood, people told us we were crazy,” said Cassie. “Being in Creemore is a dream come true. Our philosophy is to crawl before we run so we’ll probably start out with 16 seats and grow slowly.”

The eventual capacity of the Creemore location will be 24 seats.

In addition to the restaurant, the new location will feature a retail space called Juniper offering a curated selection of tableware, dining and kitchen accessories.

“People are always asking where they can buy the things we use in the restaurant so this will be a place to get all your dinner party needs,” said Cassie.

The Collingwood location operates with Cassie and Jeremy plus three full- time staff.

“In Creemore, we’ll probably need eight to 10 staff in the restaurant, plus the store,” she said.

The Pine, Collingwood attracts many diners from Toronto and beyond, and Cassie anticipates that will also be the case with the new location.

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